Schilling to Phillies?

Curt Schilling pitching for the PhilliesWell that’s a picture I don’t want to see again.

Before Curt Schilling was a big-mouth pitcher making cross-country headlines and competing for Cy Young Awards with the help of bloody socks, Curt Schilling was a big-mouth pitcher no one listened to because he toiled in Philadelphia for a very bad Phillies team. He looked to be a future star in Philadelphia while in his mid-twenties, winning 30 games in 1992 and 1993. However he won less than twenty over the next three years combined, and appeared on his way out of town before having a breakout year in 1997, pitching 254 innings and going 17-11.

The Phillies were an awful team back then, with a starting lineup comprised of guys like Rico Brogna, Marlon Anderson, Gregg Jefferies, Desi Relaford … oh wait, better description … um, the second-best pitchers to Schilling back then were hurlers like Paul Byrd, Robert Person … oh, never mind, take my word for it … even with a bunch of ex- and future Mets, they stunk!

Anyway, Schilling was dominating from then on, but was the only man on the Phillies staff who resembled a Major League pitcher, and they finally traded him to Arizona at the deadline in July 2000. From there you probably know the story — combining with Randy Johnson to beat the mighty Yankees in the World Series, pitching for the Red Sox with the bloody sock, calling out steroid abusers, blah blah blah.

After the World Series, Schilling becomes a free agent. He was asked recently about whether he’d consider returning to Philadelphia, and here was his answer:

“You have to put that my first choice is to stay here (Boston),” he said during batting practice last night. “But if it doesn’t work out, the Phillies are absolutely on the short list of places we’d want to go.

“There are probably still some people in Philadelphia who would rather not have me back. So we’ll just have to see how it goes.”

Lovely. Let’s hope that a) there are enough people in Philly who don’t want him back; b) the Red Sox want him back; or c) the Yankees are willing to open up the wallet for him.

Yes, the guy’s a pain in the neck and getting older, but he can still throw the ball with the best of them on some nights. He’s still one of the top ten or fifteen guys you’d want to start a postseason game. And at age 41 next year, he should still be able to give a team 150-175 innings, maybe 10-12 wins.

Sounds a lot like another 40-something year-old free agent pitcher, doesn’t it? Would you take Schilling or Tom Glavine if given the choice?

There is one side effect of the Curt Schilling signing with the Phillies — it could possibly keep them from signing Mike Lowell to play third base. Not sure about you, but I don’t want to see the Phillies getting either of these current Red Sox.

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. RockStar78 October 15, 2007 at 2:23 pm
    I really can’t see the Red Sox letting Lowell walk. But if they do, I doubt the Phillies would be able to afford him and Rowand, so if Lowell gets signed, then Rowand likely walks. That would hurt because he’s an important part of that clubhouse. As for Schilling, it would certainly be an upgrade to their starting rotation. However, I can’t see him being the workhorse like he once was, so that would mean more innings for that horrible bullpen. I’m sure he’d require a 2 year deal as well.
  2. isuzudude October 15, 2007 at 2:36 pm
    It’s good to see you have the eye on the ball, Joe. I saw Schilling’s comments a few days ago too, but unlike yourself, I’m not putting much stock into them. For 3 reasons:

    1. Along with Boston, Schilling has also expressed interest in going to Tampa Bay (http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2007/08/schilling-would.html). With that being the case, I’m apt to believe his “short list” is a bit longer than he’s willing to let on.

    2. With Utley, Howard, and Werth all arbitration eligible, a vacancy in CF created by Rowand’s departure, and a good deal of their starting rotation filing for free agency, I doubt Philly will have enough money left to spend on Schilling. He’s probably looking for $11-13 mil per year, and I don’t see Philly coughing up that kind of coinage on one player, particularly a 41 year old, when they have so many other issues to throw money at.

    3. Schilling allows a ton of home runs (he’s 22nd on the all-time list of HRs given up). He allowed 21 HRs in just 24 starts this season. That’s almost one per game. If he were to relocate to the launching pad known as Citizen’s Bank Park, the only thing that might prevent him from giving up 40 homers in a season would be his obligatory stint on the DL. He’ll figure that out, demand more money out of Philly to adjust for the ballpark, and will likely take an offer elsewhere from a team that plays at a more pitcher friendly ballpark (hey Curt, how about Shea?)

    Hence, I put the odds of Schilling landing in Philly at less than 15%. And even if he does, I’m not sold that he makes them an improved ballclub.

    The scarier thought, as you touched on briefly, would be to see Lowell go to Philly. They need a 3B, and he would make their lineup even deadlier, as if it wasn’t hard enough facing Rollins, Utley, Howard, and Burrell. However, coming off a career year, Lowell is going to want huge dollars, and again, I think Philly has too many issues to address to be able to spend all their available cash on one guy. So, though the thought of Lowell and/or Schilling going to Philly is nerve-racking on face value, I’m not sure us Met fans really have all that much to worry about.

  3. joe October 15, 2007 at 2:53 pm
    I don’t know how much Schilling’s HR totals will go up … he’s already in Fenway, which I understand is something of a bandbox 😉

    Let’s stir the pot a bit … if Tom Glavine signs with Atlanta, would you be on board with going after Schilling for the same $$$ ?

    True he’s not a workhorse anymore … but do you think he might be worth having around at the end of September / beginning of October?

    Let’s also presume that signing Schill would have absolutely no effect on whether the Mets go after a workhorse such as Livan or Carlos Silva — which I think is fair because with or without Glavine the Mets will still need another starter.

  4. isuzudude October 15, 2007 at 3:27 pm
    To address those questions…

    Yes, I’d be on board for signing Schilling to a similar deal that Glavine will get from Atlanta (which I’m thinking will be between $8-10 mil per year). I don’t see any other better starting pitcher available through free agency than Schilling this offseason, despite his age and tendency to give up the longball.

    Schilling is in the same genre as El Duque, where you can only “expect” 150-175 innings from him in a season, and cross your fingers he’ll be around if/when you make the playoffs. Because that’s where most of his value is. But I’m much more comfortable penciling Schilling in for 10-12 wins on the Mets than Hernandez…but my cautious optimism would also likely come at almost double the going rate for El Duque ($6.5-mil for ’08). And, considering your presumption that Silva or Livan is also brought on board if Schilling is signed, then that spells the end of El Duque in the rotation (barring a Perez/Maine trade or an in-season injury). As I’ve stated before, I’m not too fond of having Hernandez in the bullpen.

    In the end, I prefer Schilling over Glavine, but I’m not particularly keen of either one with the Mets next year. With Pedro and El Duque already question marks as far as durability and health is concerned, we don’t need another guy who can only be “expected” to contribute 150 innings. Especially at Schilling’s projected cost. As you’ve harped on in previous posts, Joe, the Mets need innings eaters who can take the burden off the bullpen. And the best route to fulfill that need is to sign Silva at whatever the cost and then bring in a slew of other candidates (via trade, free agency, or non-tenders) to compete for that 5th spot with El Duque, Pelfrey, Humber, Mulvey, etc.

  5. joe October 15, 2007 at 3:43 pm
    I definitely agree regarding making Silva, Livan, or some other workhorse (via trade?) a priority. I’m not so sure that getting the workhorse, plus a Glavine/Schilling, is necessarily spelling the end for Duque in the rotation. (And if it is, it’s not necessarily a bad thing either.)

    I’d much rather go into the season with 6 legit starters and see what happens. Just take one look at the Phillies’ starting rotation and how it evolved from March – September. Anything can happen, and better to have surplus.

    Oliver Perez’s mechanics are a Dr. Jobe surgery waiting to happen, Pedro’s recovery can’t be considered “full” just yet, El Duque’s almost a guarantee to injure something at any moment … and who knows what else might crop up.

  6. isuzudude October 15, 2007 at 5:02 pm
    A sidebar to this conversation: Joel Pineiro has re-signed with St Louis. Something along the lines of 2 years for 13-million. If Piniero can get El Duque money for 11 solid starts, it’s going to be scary to see what the Mets might have to throw at Silva this winter to win those sweepstakes.
  7. sincekindergarten October 15, 2007 at 5:10 pm
    Silva might be a 4 year-$48 million guy. I’d be on board with that. Sure, Silva isn’t a strikeout pitcher, but he eats innings, and he gets groundouts, and with an infield with Castillo and Reyes in the middle, he’ll get them recorded.
  8. joe October 15, 2007 at 8:40 pm
    Holy S … 2 years $13M for a guy who was DFA’d and dumped at the deadline. Talk about setting a market precedent.

    I thought the deals for Suppan, Marquis, and Meche were ridiculous … this is going to be one expensive winter for teams spending money on pitching (oh, I guess that would be everyone).

    SK I think you are right on with that assessment. Just think that kind of deal was considered blasphemous for Greg Maddux when he was in his prime — and it wasn’t THAT long ago.