Friday, January 24, 2014

The Golden Phils

How old are the Phillies?

Their young star Domonic Brown turned 26 last September.  He's about a week and a half younger than Braves veteran Justin Upton.  Other younger veterans on the Braves include Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, and Mike Minor.

The prized new addition of the Phillies is Bobby Abreu.  He made it to the bigs the year after Chipper Jones's first full season in the majors.  Alex Wood was five years old.  Abreu's first major league hit came against the New York Mets' Bobby Jones.  Abreu had pinch hit for Todd Jones.  There was no relation between the two Jones, nor with Chipper Jones.  Derek Bell, who famously originated Operation Shutdown, had a double against Bobby Jones, one of just four hits Jones gave up in a 119-pitch shutout.

Wil Nieves, who the Phillies had to hunt down in order to find a backup catcher older than their starter, was a rookie when he caught Bobby Jones.  I link to baseball-reference and I'm fairly sure Bobby Jones has been mentioned more in this blog than he has been mentioned in the last five years. In 2002, Nieves also caught Trevor Hoffman, former Braves Steve Reed and Alan Embree, and a completely different Bobby Jones.  Nieves even played on a team that Ron Gant played 102 games for.

It is very difficult to lose 37 year-old Michael Young and get older.  But the Phillies, who are estimated to spend close to $160M this season, are likely to accomplish this.  In addition to Abreu, the Phillies signed 36 year-old Marlon Byrd to a two-year contract and brought 33 year-old Roberto Hernandez aboard for the ride.

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. hasn't played since 1998.  That was Abreu's first season with the Phillies.  Abreu is the only player from that team still playing.

In his first full season, Jimmy Rollins was a young star on a team that included youngins' such as Johnny Estrada and Pat Burrell.

Jayson Werth is younger than 2/3's of the outfield that he left before 2011.  Werth, who will turn 35 in May, would also be younger than three other expected starters from the eight that will make up the starting squad and is only a half-year older than Ryan Howard, who is due at least $85M over the next three seasons.

Their young gun, Cole Hamels, is already 30.  Gavin Floyd is the only starter the Braves have who has already celebrated his 30th birthday or will during this season.  In fact, the Braves's current 30 year-olds include a second baseman who might not even start this season, a catcher/outfielder who is being counted on to provide a bat off the bench, a backup catcher, and the aforementioned Floyd.  Oh, and Jose Constanza, but we don't count him.

In the bullpen, the Phillies have, you guessed it, a good deal of experience.  Amazingly, it's very young for this team despite employing 33 year-old Jonathan Papelbon and 35 year-old Mike Adams.  New Phillie Chad Gaudin got a minor league deal and might be the fifth starter, but if not, the 31 year-old likely has a job by just being old in the Phillies pen.  Johnny Venters is the old guy for the Braves bullpen.  Old Faithful turns 29 on March 20th.  Anthony Varvaro is already 29, but since Fredi Gonzalez likes to forget about him, I figured I might as well ignore that tidbit.

The Phillies are on the hook for $112M in 2014 already, including three players making at least $22.5M.  They were also in on Masahiro Tanaka before the pitcher signed with the Yankees.  According to Amaro, they weren't willing to give him anything beyond five years despite giving Carlos Ruiz a new three-year contract with a fourth-year option.  Tanaka will be 25 all next season and would be younger than almost every expected member of the Phillies next season.  But, he was too much of a chance to go beyond five years with.

The Phillies will spend $60M more than the Braves next season.  With that money, the Braves could have brought back Tim Hudson, Brian McCann, and Eric O'Flaherty and got into the Robinson Cano bidding.  That is pretty crazy when you consider how much money the Phillies will be spending and for how little.  Last year, former Phillie Werth said the biggest challenger to the Nationals repeating in 2013 was the Phillies.  A year later, you start to think that the Phillies might not even be the Nationals' biggest challenger to second place.  Ruben Amaro Jr. was basically handed the job in Philly.  Maybe they might want to consider an actual general manager next.

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