Aaron Rowand has agreed to a five-year, $60 million contract with the San Francisco Giants.
In two years with the Phillies, Rowand posted a 290/353/479 line with 39 home runs and 136 RBI in 1,017 at-bats. He was an All-Star and won a Gold Glove, both in 2007. His contributions on the field have been significant, but there’s no question that the Phils are also going to miss him off the field as well. Rowand was one of the driving forces that helped forge the Phils into a team that was fun to watch in part simply because they played hard day after day, even seven games behind with 17 left to play. Whatever it is that’s in Aaron Rowand that makes him lead with his face when he meets the wall in the pursuit of the ball, some of it got on the Phillies. And it’s not just that he went after the ball like he did, either, it’s that he caught it.
Rowand has played for two teams in his career and played a significant role in getting each of them to the next level — that isn’t a coincidence.
With all that said, however, the news of the day from yesterday that would have been worse for the Phillies is that they had signed him to a five-year, $61 million contract. With or without Rowand on the team, the Phils seem committed to playing Shane Victorino regularly — if he’s going to play regularly it needs to be in center field.
Rowand’s absence brings new challenges to an organization that has had a weak off-season. Victorino should be able to handle center defensively without much of a dropoff, but he’s not going to hit 27 home runs or slug .515. An injury to Victorino would be catastrophic for the Phillies if it forced Roberson, Bruntlett or Brandon Watson into regular playing time in center. The Phils are going to need to make up for some of the offense they’ve lost, and it appears the places they could do that are in right field and at third or catcher.
For the players on the field the challenge is going to be to continue to play like Rowand does now that he plays for another team.
Mike Costanzo and Luke Scott were two of the five players that the Astros sent to Baltimore for Miguel Tejada.
This article says that the Phillies offered contracts to all their arbitration-eligible players: Ryan Howard, Brad Lidge, Jayson Werth, Ryan Madson, Eric Bruntlett and Chris Snelling. Among players not offered contracts by other teams it suggests the Phils may be interested in Josh Towers, Mark Prior, Dallas McPhearson, Morgan Ensberg and Willie Harris.