The big news today, obviously, is that La Salle begins its defense of 14th place in the Atlantic 10 with an exhibition game against Philadelphia University at Tom Gola Arena. But it also happens to be the first full day of free agency, which is the time of year when baseball teams who are worth hundreds of millions of dollars attempt to sign baseball players who are worth millions of dollars under the watchful eye of sports writers who are worth hundreds of thousands of Marriott Points.
We've already paid significant attention to the Phillies' free agency game place, and we will continue to do so in the coming days. The first thing we addressed is the bullpen, because I anticipate that being the first area that the Phillies address. History suggests that the outfield market will be slower to develop as Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford and their representatives pore over their various options, but we will provide a comprehensive look at that in the not-too-distant future. The other potential need I highlighted a few days ago in a story in the Daily News, much to the consternation of the apparently-significant Wilson Valdez fan base, was infield depth. Given the public outcry that resulted from the suggestion that Valdez might not have a 2011 roster spot locked up -- the letters are fine, but the horse head in my bed was a bit much -- I should offer a quick clarification: I like Wilson Valdez. Great defender. Terrific arm. Came up big in some big spots at the plate. Most productive utility infielder they've had over the past few seasons. But he had a .306 on base percentage, and that was 34 points higher than his previous career average. He had a .667 OPS, and that was 27 points lower than the mark posted by Jimmy Rollins, who some suggested benching in favor of Valdez in the postseason. He grounded into 20 double plays, tied for fifth in the NL despite having more than 200 fewer plate appearances than the three players he was tied with. My only point? With Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco and Chase Utley all coming off injury-riddled seasons, the Phillies might look for some infield depth that would provide more offensive punch if called upon as a long-term fill-in.
Anyway, there are a few other key dates to keep in mind as the calendar slides toward Christmas.
Nov. 23 - This is the deadline by which teams must offer arbitration to their own free agents. The main person this concerns is Werth, who is a Type A Free Agent. The Phillies will absolutely offer Werth arbitration, since it is a win-win for them. If he accepts (which he won't, barring a complete collapse of the market), the Phillies get him on a one-year deal. If he rejects and he signs elsewhere, they will get two draft picks, one from the team that signs him, another in the supplemental round. The Phillies could also arbitration to Type B free agent Chad Durbin and preserve the right to get a supplemental pick if he signs elsewhere, but every indication I have received is that is highly unlikely.