Thursday, September 21, 2006

We Take Time Out From Your Regularly Scheduled Pennant Race...

...to note that, regardless of what Buttery Pat Gillick said when he gift-wrapped Bobby Abreu and the A.L. East title, it may be a good winter for the Phillies to go shopping. Looking at their lineup, their most glaring needs would seem to be catcher, third base, and outfield, unless you believe that the Rowand/Victorino/Dellucci troika is enough thump to compete in the N.L. East. That being said, both Rowand and Dellucci have 25+ homer pop, and with above-average power coming from the infield, there's a case to be made that the situation is survivable. (Personally, I think they're going to trade Pat Burrell for a bucket of Slim Jims and free tickets to the next Uwe Boll movie, just to get him the heck out of town.) Catcher looks to be in decent hands - and healthy knees - with Ruiz and Coste. That leaves third base, where , according to Derek Jacques of Baseball Prospectus, "by VORP, [Abraham] Nunez is now the worst position player in the majors." That's worse than Brad Ausmus, Mike Metheny, and Neifi Perez. Think about it.

Fortunately, this winter looks to have a veritable cornucopia of options at the hot corner available on the market. Masher Aramis Ramirez can opt out of his contract with the Cubs. The rejuvenated Mark Teahen may get shoved out of Kansas City to make way for uber-prospect Alex Gordon. If the Astros are saving a space for Craig Biggio next year, then Aubrey Huff is most likely going to be available. Pedro Feliz may be overrated and ageing, but he still hits the ball a lot farther than Nunez ever will. The Eternal Fallback Position, Joe Randa, will be out there. And in Tom Verducci's excellent piece over at SI.com, enough Yankees throw Alex Rodriguez under the bus that you get the feeling he might not mind moving on.

Mind you, I think the likelihood of A-Rod coming to Philly is only slightly higher than the advisability of same, which is to say, non-existent. But even the rumor that he's out there on the market might make one of the more sensible and appropriate targets a little easier to come by, and with all that loose Thome/Abreu/Bell/Wolf/most likely Burrell pocket change rattling around the coffers at Citizens' Bank Park, there's room for a significant purchase or two.

Nunez is what he is, a decent utility infielder who got an oversized contract based on a couple of decent months last year. He's not a starter, and he's certainly not a starter for a team with dreams of contention. Not only do the numbers not lie, in this case, they look you in the eye, speak confidently, and use good diction and grammar. And with Utley, Rollins and Howard in their primes, this team has no choice but to try to contend, rather than waste the best years of their career. If the Phillies go into next season with Nunez as their starting third baseman, it will be an admission of failure, and a clear sign of multiple missed opportunities.
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