Sunday, December 10, 2006

Get Serious

The Phillies acquired Freddy Garcia from the White Sox. This is an outstanding move for a team serious about winning in 2007.

The Phillies are not that team.

Garcia is as close to a sure thing as any starting pitcher in baseball. He's a workhorse who will pitch at least 200 innings next season, and do so effectively. With some luck, he'll make the All Star team and be a marginal candidate for the Cy Young Award. (No word on how good a fielder he is.)

The cost to get him was two pitchers who will most likely have no value in the major leagues in 2007. The Phillies will pay Garcia $10 million next year, which isn't bad at all in a market where Gil Meche and Vicente Padilla are getting $11 million a year for multiple years. But Garcia will be a free agent at the end of the year. When he leaves, the Phillies will get a couple of draft picks in return, but they'll only be replacing the two prospects that were traded to the White Sox.

This deal only works if Garcia is the missing piece of the puzzle and the Phillies get into the playoffs in 2007. He isn't, and they won't. One of the reasons they won't is that they need another good hitter. If winning in 2007 is the plan, why, oh why, did they give away Bobby Abreu for nothing last July? There's no one available who's as good as he is. The Yankees will pay him $15 million next year, and in a market where Carlos Lee and Alfonso Soriano are getting more than that, it will be a bargain. Consider it the price of entry into serious playoff contention. As usual, the Phillies refuse to pay it.

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