Offseason Changes: Phillies
In: Cliff Lee
Out: Jayson Werth, Jamie Moyer, Greg Dobbs, Mike Sweeney, Chad Durbin
The biggest news of the offseason in Philly, of course, was the acquisition of Cliff Lee and the departure of Jayson Werth. Not much else changed about the Philadelphia roster, and that could be considered a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective.
On the one hand, by signing Lee the Phillies have assembled the best four starters on one club since … well, since maybe forever. It’s all on paper, though — it will remain to be seen whether Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels stay healthy and take 32 starts each. If they do, and they perform reasonably as well as expected, it will be a long year for NL hitters.
However, will the Phils score enough runs now that Werth is gone? Rookie Domonic Brown is supposed to be up to the task of replacing Werth — in a platoon role with Ben Francisco — but it’s hard to imagine the youngster posting a .900+ OPS in his first year. I’m a little surprised that GM Ruben Amaro didn’t acquire a veteran bat to guard against Brown flopping and/or further decline by Raul Ibanez — though, it probably makes more sense to see what happens in the first few months of the season, and make a deal if necessary before the trading deadline.
In addition to the big gain and big loss of the winter, the Phillies made a few under-the-radar moves, signing a few intriguing players to minor-league deals with invites to spring training. Specifically, Jeff Larish, a power-hitting corner infielder who was a top prospect for the Tigers not long ago. Larish has never been given ample opportunity to prove himself at the big-league level, and may now be a “AAAA” player. He hit 20 HR in 334 AAA at-bats last year, posting a .910 OPS, so he has some pop — he could grow into the old Greg Dobbs role of pinch-hitting and filling in at 3B. The Phils also signed outfielders Brandon Moss and Delwyn Young, as well as second basemen Pete Orr and Josh Barfield — all of whom have MLB experience. I’ve always liked Young and found Barfield interesting — though they likely would have had a better chance of making the Mets rather than the Phils.
Finally, the Phillies signed LHP Dan Meyer, who had a breakout year with the Marlins in ’09 but missed most of last year due to a sword-swallowing accident … er, check that, wrong Dan Meyer … I mean, a serious calf injury. In all seriousness, the NJ native was impressive in ’09, and if he can regain that form in 2011, the Phillies may have obtained one of the best bargains of the offseason.