“Who do you think should have the better, more productive off-season?” asks Baseball Digest Daily’s Bill Baer. “The World F™in Champions, or the September Choke Artists?” Moving into a new ballpark and trying desperately to appease an enraged fan base, I’d say the latter, while Baer muses that the Phillies “have had an embarrassingly low-key, settle-for-less kind of off-season under new GM Ruben Amaro.” (link swiped from Repoz and Baseball Think Factory)
Amaro declined to offer arbitration to Pat Burrell, a Type A free agent, because he believed he would accept the offer. Thus, the Phillies would have been forced to pay Burrell a 2009 salary likely in the $16-18 million range, more than they believed him to be worth. Instead, they went out and signed another Type A free agent, Raul Ibanez, for $31.5 million for three years including $6.5 million in 2009. At the cost of two first round draft picks the Phillies saved about $10 million. But 25% (and potentially 50% given incentives) of that then went to free agent Chan Ho Park, whose 2008 season was the first in which he finished with an ERA+ over 93 since 2001. And $6.5 million went into re-signing Jamie Moyer who is much more likely to put up Adam Eaton-type numbers than Cole Hamels-type numbers.
In signing Ibanez, Amaro essentially set the market for good-hitting, poor-defending outfielders like Burrell and Adam Dunn. However, if one is going to set the market by making the first splash, one usually wants to get the best player. Among the free agent corner outfielders, Ibanez is arguably out of the top-five. Considering that Adam Dunn is a Type A free agent who was not offered arbitration by the Arizona Diamondbacks, is consistently more productive offensively and comparably poor defensively, it makes no sense to sign Ibanez when you have Dunn available.
The New York Mets, pathetic disappointments the last two seasons, should have had to settle for Ibanez and Park. That Amaro, with his ineffective moves, willingly jumped out and screamed to the baseball world, œHey, we™ll settle for less. I don™t mind! shouldn™t settle well with the Philadelphia fan base.