Explanations amid the bewilderment of why, why, why the Phillies were said to be kicking the tires of Michael Young a few weeks ago varied from overkill to my contention that GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. called the Rangers just to check-in on Young; see what it would take to get him; gauge how desperate the Rangers were to move him and if they’d provide any financial relief for Young’s remaining $48 million on his contract while simultaneously taking little in terms of talent back.
Now we know.
Chase Utley has a knee problem—patellar tendinitis—that has prevented him from playing in any spring training games so far and he received a cortisone shot yesterday. There’s no “cure” for tendinitis apart from rest and anti-inflammatory medicine to alleviate it or, as Utley just had, a shot to make it bearable so he can play.
The Young inquiry now has a basis in fact apart from wanting to get a highly expensive roving utility player. Considering the paucity of second basemen available, Young is a reasonable replacement for Utley; plus Young can play shortstop and third base (both Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco have had injury issues of their own in recent years).
Now it makes sense as to why (why, why) the Phillies were looking into Young.
This should probably present a lesson: there’s always a reason for teams to do what they do; despite my ravaging him for trading Cliff Lee for Roy Halladay so many moons ago, he had a reason for doing it; there’s always a reason.
Well, except for the Pirates.
But they don’t count.
The purpose of this overreaction is beyond me.
Brown was surrounded by questions; the club has been looking into alternatives—Mike Morse recently and Jeff Francoeur in the winter—since Jayson Werth‘s departure, now they suddenly can’t live without him?
Brown’s readiness for big league duty should be determined by his play; they should’ve shut their eyes and told Brown he was the right fielder and lived with him for the first couple of months of the season, sink or swim.
Then we get to the talk of the Phillies not being as offensively powerful as they’ve been in the past with age, injury concerns and the loss of Werth.
It’s shaky at best.
Let’s say hypothetically that their offense is compromised due to age and decline. So what? With that starting pitching, they’re not going to allow as many runs as they did in the past, therefore they won’t need to score as many.
All this talk about their bullpen being weak is nonsense. Both Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge are in their free agent years (Lidge has a $12.5 million option for 2012) and are looking to get paid; Jose Contreras was good last season; they don’t need to be the offensive juggernaut they were in prior years; and they’re still going to score plenty of runs.
Rollins’s fall from MVP in 2007 to what he is now has been steep and worrisome, but certain things tell me that Rollins is going to have a major comeback season.
He’s expressed a willingness to alter his approach from the arrogant and self-defeating “I’m gonna be J-Roll” silliness that’s been a byproduct of his loudmouthed, blustery personality; he’s a free agent at the end of the season and at age 32, wants to get that last big contract.
Naturally there’s a correlation between his sudden agreeable response to entreaties that he change his hitting strategy and him wanting to get paid; but considering Rollins’s massive ego, it cannot be dismissed that his faltering rep around baseball as a big-game threat also has something to do with this willingness to change.
The criticism and caution regarding the Phillies—their age, injuries and departures—exemplify grasping at straws hoping they won’t be as good as their talent indicates they will be.
And they’re wrong.