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December 7 2006

That was quick.  A year ago the Phillies went into the season with what would prove to be one of the worst starting rotations in all of baseball.  Of the five guys that made up the rotation to start last year, one of them is dead, one's in the pen and the other now plays for the White Sox.  A fourth looks like he doesn't have much  time left as a Phillie.  And all of the sudden the Phillies have six starting pitchers, the worst of which is Adam Eaton.

The Phillies pulled the trigger on a deal last night, trading Gavin Floyd and a player to be named later to the White Sox for right-handed pitcher Freddy Garcia.  The player to be named later is Gio Gonzalez, who cannot be traded until after the Rule 5 draft today.

Certainly nobody is excited to see Gonzalez go, but the Phillies seem to have done a nice job of capitalizing on the success he had in the Arizona Fall League.  Floyd could still pan out but he sure has struggled in his multiple chances with the Phils.  If you want to criticize Gillick for emptying the farm system you can, but sooner or later you have to try to win.  If you're going to pick a time you can't go wrong with now.

On the down side, Garcia will make $10 million this season before becoming a free agent in '08.  So here's hoping that now thing works out or we'll be hearing more about how Gillick leaves an organization in tatters.

You can also wonder about trading one of the biggest chips in a weak farm system to get stronger in an area where you were set already.  Clearly this move is part of a larger strategy that puts the Phillies in an envious position of having a pitcher to trade in a market where Ted Lilly is worth $40 million.

The trade leaves the Phillies with six starting pitchers, Garcia, Jon Lieber, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, Cole Hamels and Adam Eaton.  The popular thinking is that the Phillies will trade Lieber and perhaps center fielder Aaron Rowand to address their needs, which are in the bullpen, in right field and at catcher.

Garcia turned 31 in June and went 17-9 with a 4.53 ERA for the White Sox last season.  He has thrown at least 200 innings for six straight years.  Over his career he's twice been an All-Star and twice been in the top ten in Cy Young voting.  He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Carlos Beltran in 1999 (he finished just ahead of Jeff Zimmerman and Brian Daubach, though, so it's possible it wasn't a rookie class for the ages).

The Phils no doubt have more moves coming soon -- what they get when they trade Jon Lieber will go a long way towards defining how sound the strategy was that had them acquiring Garcia.  Undeniably, however, in the short term the Phillies are better today than they were yesterday.

In this article on the Phillies web site Manuel blames the pen for eight to ten losses down the stretch last season.  The pen was awful down the stretch but eight to ten games is, well, a stretch.  He also suggests that Jon Lieber had a problem with conditioning.  Less of a stretch.

The Phillies talked with Aubrey Huff's peeps yesterday.

The Phils and the Nats may have discussed a Madson for Ryan Church deal.  The Cubs may also be trying to trade for Church.

Alan Embree has agreed to a deal with the A's.  Mike Piazza also looks headed to Oakland.

This article says that the Brewers and Orioles have a deal in place that would sent Kevin Mench to Baltimore if the O's cannot sign Luis Gonzalez.

The Royals are trying to trade Reggie Sanders.

This article says that the Rockies do not plan to trade Brad Hawpe despite interest from multiple teams that include the Phillies.

Adam Eaton is a done deal.  Gillick must be trying to get his entry for understatement of the year in under the wire:  "we've probably got a better starting rotation than we had at the beginning of 2006."

The Red Sox may offer Trot Nixon arbitration.

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