Thursday, December 11, 2003

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

The Phillies' second straight off-season spending spree receives Bill Lyon's stamp of approval, delivered in typically lyrical, rhapsodic style, in today's Inquirer. tabs the Billy Wagner trade as the No. 3 fantasy move of the off-season and adds that Eric Milton is "a sleeper this season, assuming he can stay healthy." And Mike's Baseball Rants takes the Tim Worrell signing and checks in with an amusing look at the Phillies' generally dismal history of picking the wrong family members to play for and manage the team: "In almost every pair of baseball brothers, the Phils have gotten their hands on the runt of the litter almost every time."

Meanwhile, before Kevin Millwood's return to the fold seemed likely, Ben Jacobs of Universal Baseball Blog, Inc., worried about the Phils' lack of an established starter (there's no permalink; see "The art of dumping salary" from December 4):

The problem I have with Philadelphia at the moment is that its rotation contains four pitchers who, while young and full of potential, have all been inconsistent. If all four take a step forward and fulfill their promise next year, the Phillies could have a great rotation. If all four take a step back, then Philadelphia's rotation will be a big weakness. Most likely, the top four will be a little above average and the rotation as a whole will be somewhere in the vicinity of average. With a good offense and a good bullpen, that could very well be good enough to make the playoffs.

I'll leave the last word to Mike, whose piece on this year's changed free-agent market included this once-unthought-of counsel:

If all this leaves you disillusioned and disaffected, my advice is to root for a team like the Yankees, Red Sox, or Phils. At least they are trying to field the best team that they can get their hands on. Are they spending hoards of money? Yes, so? Is it your money? Isn't that preferable to a team like the Brewers that gets handed a new stadium and then so mismanages the team that it must trade any and all veteran players to whittle down the team salary to the lowest for a team since the 2001 Contraction Twins?

If your cynicism runs so deep that you eschew these teams -- thinking that the Phils will be in the same boat as the Brewers after their new stadium funds run out in three years, that the Red Sox genius GM, Theo Epstein, needs a boost, or rather a booster seat, from Bud whenever he makes a transaction, and that the Yankees are starting to make
The Onion headline from last season, that they were buying every player in baseball, a reality -- well then there's always the unalloyed pleasure of the holiday season. There's no materialism at this time of year. And then enjoy the unselfish statesmanship of next year's presidential election to avoid the tawdry baseball season.


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