Phillies in Search of SS & C Depth

February 11th, 2015 by Ryan Waterman | Filed under Baseball, General, Phillies, Sports, TalkSportsPhilly.

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Spring Training starts-up in just over a week, and Ruben Amaro Jr is still looking to make moves. The Phillies GM took large steps toward a rebuild this offseason, by dealing the long-time face of the franchise, in Jimmy Rollins, and veteran Marlon Byrd. It seems that Amaro’s not afraid to make moves, but is very cautious of ensuring that it is the correct move to make. Getting back to the present, ESPN’s Jayson Stark is reporting that Amaro is searching for “veteran” depth a shortstop and catcher. Stark goes on to say that while Ruben doesn’t expect to add anything before the start of camp, he will remain vigilant, and “keep an eye out” as the spring advances on. While pulling moves like this makes sense for a team on the cusp of a total rebuild, I have to question the timing of the move.

There are few, if any veteran catchers on the market, that could make an immediate impact on this squad. Obviously, Carlos Ruiz will remain the man behind the plate. But, what about insurance policies? At this point, the depth chart behind “Chooch” consists of Cameron Rupp, John Hester, and Koyie Hill. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all solid players. However, I don’t believe that they are players that can maintain the level of play in the absence of Ruiz. As previously stated, the pickings on the open market are slim.

The top two names available include former Brave Ryan Doumit, and former Ray Jose Molina. Doumit is the most interesting name to me, because of the impact that he can make. I like to refer to him as a “poor man’s Ruiz”. His career stat line of (.264/.324/.432) is similar to that of Ruiz’s (.271/.357/.406). Doumit has the edge over Carlos in the homer department, as he has racked up 41 homers more than “Chooch”. Doumit figures to fetch a deal in the $2-5 million dollar range. The only question would be the length of his deal. At the age of 33, do the Phils commit for longer than one season, or is he just a stopgap, awaiting the development of Cameron Rupp?

Moving over to the shortstop side of things, the Phillies are also quite thin here. Freddy Galvis is atop the depth chart, but that’s about it. The heir apparent to J-Roll’s throne is J.P. Crawford, who is still developing his way through the minors. Unlike the catching market, the shortstop market has quite a few names out there, some could even top Galvis on the depth chart. Names like Marco Scutaro, Rafael Furcal, and Evereth Cabrera top the list of available players. Scutaro (39) and Furcal (35) are curious, but unlikely options as a result of their ages, and injury history.

The most intriguing option on the SS market is Evereth Cabrera. Cabrera has had his fair share of uh…extra curricular activities, as he was suspended back in 2012 as a part of the “Biogenesis” scandal. Just as the former all-star was beginning to regain some credibility, he was charged with a DUI and resisting arrest, this past December. Evereth’s numbers may not be as flashy as other guys, but he’s a solid option. He primarily made his name as a defensive standout as SS. He owns a career .248/.319/.333 stat line, but his most appealing statistic has to be his errors. in six seasons, Cabrera has only committed 65 errors (just shy of 11 per season). Do the Phillies give Cabrera a second chance, or do they take a chance on a player like Scutaro or Furcal?

Another option, is that the Phils explore the trade market. The trade market for shortstops is pretty close to non-existent. However, the catcher market is pretty busy. Players like Dioner Navarro, Chris Stewart, and Wellington Castillo are all rumored to be available. Personally, I like Navarro as the best option out there. In his 11 year career, Navarro possesses a .255/.313/.375 stat line. Despite what his numbers show, Navarro has turned on the offense over his past two seasons, as he has hit 25 homers, and batted in 103 runs over that two-year span. Dioner signed a 2-year pact with the Blue Jays back in late 2013, but has since fallen out of favor up north. With the recent signing of Russell Martin, Toronto has begun shopping Navarro, upon his request. As far as compensation, I have an intriguing thought process. The Blue Jays have recently been linked to Jonathan Papelbon, but aren’t in love with his contract. This is just pure speculation on my end here, but the Phillies could send Papelbon (eating the remaining $26 million on his contract) to Toronto for Dioner Navarro and prospect LHP Matt Boyd. In order for Amaro to leave this deal with a prospect in hand, he’ll have to either forgo acquiring Navarro, or eat all of Pap’s salary. Boyd is an intriguing prospect that has low-end #3, high-end #4 potential. He struggled mightily in the transition to AA ball last season, but he killed it at single-A level.

As the weeks advance, there is sure to be many names that hit the open market. At this moment, these names are at the top of the list. Which avenue Ruben explores remains to be seen, but I have a strange feeling that Amaro will throw us his annual “curveball”, by executing a move that makes us fans go “huh”?  Closing out this article, I will leave this question here for you Phillies fans.  How do you believe this season will fare for the team?



As always, feel free to contact me on Twitter: @RyanW_TSP

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