The winter meetings start today in Florida. General consensus is the Phillies will be looking for help in the bullpen, at catcher and in right and, stop me if you've heard this one before, to trade Pat Burrell.
Oddly enough, after trying to trade him for nearly two years, Pat Burrell's value and the number of problems his absence would create for the Phillies may have peaked at the same time. You have to wonder, given their current situation in right field, that a corner outfielder who can hit like Burrell is what the Phils are looking to add rather than what they're looking to get rid of.
With so many of the big free agent bats off the board Burrell may be one of the better hitters available by trade or the free agent market. Some have suggested that if the Phillies do manage to trade Burrell they could push Rowand into left field. To do that they would need a massive upgrade at some other position to offset the offense they lost in left. It seems highly unlikely they would get it.
Rowand is an elite defensive player who is likely to be outhit by most left fielders in baseball in the coming season. Here's what he's done in the past two years:
Rowand's monster year was 2004. He hit 310/361/544 with 24 home runs and drove in 69 runs. But other than the '04 he hasn't hit for much power, hitting just 42 home runs in 1,565 non-'04 at-bats over his career.
And here's what the Phillies' left fielders did last season with the bat:
Using OPS as the measure, only four teams got more offense out of left field than the Phillies did.
And here's what the worst teams in the NL in terms of offense from left field did, again using OPS as the measure.
Had Rowand gotten every at-bat in left field for the Phillies last year and produced offense at the same rate, the Phillies would have gone from getting the fifth most offense from left field to getting the 14th-most. And given the drop the team seems sure to see in right field with the loss of Abreu and Dellucci, it's hard to envision a trade that pushes Rowand to left without being a devastating blow to the offense overall.
An article here revisits some of Pat Gillick's previous glory from the winter meetings, specifically the deal consummated at the 1990 meeting in which Gillick brought Roberto Alomar and the cursed Joe Carter to the Blue Jays.
The Royals may be interested in Miguel Batista.
David Weathers is still talking with the Reds but says there's a less than 50-50 chance he'll be back with Cincy.
The Cardinals may be looking to trade Juan Encarnacion. Encarnacion hit 278/317/443 with 19 home runs in 557 at-bats last season. He walked 30 times, improving his career on-base percentage to .316 after ten seasons.