If we look back to last year at this time, what had the Phillies done to improve their team? First they allowed Aaron Rowand and his leadership to go San Francisco where the Giants showed why they are one of the worst-run franchises in sports (see Zito, Schmidt...). They decided that Jayson Werth, someone who had cracked 100 games just once in his big league career, a year in which he batted .234, would be starting in right field. The other starter in right field was to be Brett Favre look-alike, Geoff Jenkins, who in the previous season hit .255, his worst average since oh-two. They traded away quite possibly the fastest man in the major leagues in Michael Bourn to the Astros. In return? We received a closer who had lost his job three times in the past year, someone known for his inopportune ability to give up a big home run (i.e. Albert Pujols) in Brad Lidge. Sounded perfect for Philly at the time - a city known to get on a player the second something goes wrong. Along with a former star-closer, we received some utility man - a baseball player with a hefty blonde beard.
(Nothing is wrong with a healthy blonde beard... over 40 days long thanks to the Flyers improbable playoff run. Let's hope this year's is longer.)
The Angels signed Tori Hunter to an enormous contract worth 90 mil over 5 years. If a percentage of that money is for his leadership, then I applaud them. If not... well... enjoy your investment.
The Braves picked up Tom Glavine for a cool 8 million dollars. They got a solid 13 starts and 2 wins out of him.
The Dodgers shelled out 36 million over 2 YEARS for Andruw Jones, who apparently worked hard at spending that money on ice cream while batting .158 in 75 games.
The Yankees decided to commit 27.5 million dollars a year on one player, A-Rod. Looks like half of that money will be going to his ex-wife now, as that marriage is not the only thing he lost last year.
Randy Wolf, Carlos Silva, Luis Castillo, the list goes on and on. Looking at the Phils, they hardly made much of a splash in the free agent pool. They made small moves and spent less on a few players than many teams spent on one player. What I'm getting at, is that the big names don't necessarily add up to a World Series Trophy... which we now have.
The Yankees throwing out over 140 million dollars for 7 years of C.C. Sabathia just to make sure that C.C. knows who has the money to top the Santana deal (137.5 over 7 years) may not be the smartest way to spend what is equivalent to more than the Marlins entire team payroll for 2008. The Mets deciding to spend 37 million plus incentives on Francisco Rodriguez may look good at the present. So did signing Barry Zito to what was then the richest contract for a pitcher. "K-Rod" as Francisco has come to be known, is not living up to the K part of his nickname, which stands for strikeout, for those who do not know. His strikeouts per 9 innings dropped dramatically by almost 2 strikeouts last year, and have steadily dropped since 06, which was also his best year with regards to ERA and saves to blown saves ratio. The bottom line, is that this is a good signing. It is the correct move by the Mets organization, just as signing Jevon Kearse in 2003 was the right move. It looks good on paper, but lots of signs point to trouble in the future. K-Rod's '08 postseason line for the best-in-the-AL Angels? A loss and an ERA of almost 8. He walks into New York with the record for most saves in a season, lots of money, high expectations and a slider that isn't doing the wonders that it once did.
What did that blonde bearded dude do for the Phillies in 08? Only scored the game winning run in game 3 of the world series and game 5, which gave Philly its first championship in 25 years. And that head-case, Lidge? Only went 48 for 48 in save opportunities overall including a 1.95 era and 92 strikeouts in 62 regular season games. Pedro Feliz? The signing that no one outside of Philadelphia even cared to notice had the second best fielding percentage in the National League and drove in the aforementioned Eric Bruntlett for the World Series winning hit.
Some big signings work out. Many do not. It's hard to argue with a lot of signings, but the ones that matter are the Bruntlett's, the Feliz's, and the Chad Durbins. They help solidify ballclubs. With all that said, I would love to sign Derek Lowe and keep Jamie Moyer and Pat Burrell, but let's hope that we can pick up another Bruntlett for the departure of So Taguchi and another Scott Eyre for the gone-in-longer-than-a-Flash Tom Gordon. Here's to hoping that K-Rod finds as much success with the Mets has Andruw Jones has with the Dodgers!