Saturday, November 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Identity change for the Phillies?

A report in the Boston Globe today says the Phillies have made a formal offer to free-agent righthander Derek Lowe.

Identity change for the Phillies?

Starter Derek Lowe went 14-11 with a 3.24 ERA last year for the Dodgers. (Jerry Lodriguss / File photo)
Starter Derek Lowe went 14-11 with a 3.24 ERA last year for the Dodgers. (Jerry Lodriguss / File photo)

A report in the Boston Globe today says the Phillies have made a formal offer to free-agent righthander Derek Lowe.

Meeting with reporters this afternoon, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said that the team has had discussions with Lowe's agent, but declined to confirm or deny the Globe report.

Here's an interesting thought to mull over. . .

So much of the focus this offseason has centered on the situation in leftfield, and how the Phillies might possibly replace Pat Burrell. I don't get the impression that the Phillies are sold on bringing him back. All the signals - including not offering him arbitration - lead me to believe that they are going to spend the money they'll save from Burrell's $14 million salary elsewhere.

Obviously, the gut reaction is that the Phillies absolutely must find a way to replace Burrell's production. But what if the team is in for an identity change? At the beginning of last season, the Phillies were considered a team whose strength was its power. Burrell was a big part of that. If they were going to win, they were going to outscore people. But as the season progressed, pitching became more and more of a strength. Plain and simple, it is the reason they won a World Series.

Ruben Amaro Jr. has said all offseason pitching is his priority. And with the Lowe offer in mind, there exists an interesting possibility that the Phillies might decide to make pitching the backbone of this team. That might not make sense, so let me try to explain.

Sure, you'd like to replace Burrell. But are the Phillies really worse off - or, perhaps, even better - if they pour their resources allocated to Burrell into bolstering the rotation. Let's say the Phillies land Lowe. True, that might take away some money that might have been used to bring in someone like Raul Ibanez. But it would give them a rotation that looks pretty darn good on paper:

1. Cole Hamels

2. Brett Myers

3. Derek Lowe

4. Joe Blanton

5. Jamie Moyer/J.A. Happ/Kyle Kendrick/Carlos Carrasco/Andrew Carpenter

Combined with the bullpen pieces they have in place, the Phillies suddenly might not need to be a team that relies so heavily on the power production from players like Burrell. And with a staff like that in place, it might make sense - logical and economic - to go with a platoon of Dobbs/Jenkins/Stairs and another righthanded, one- or two-year type of bat like Rocco Baldelli.

Just some food for thought. . .

David Murphy Daily News Staff Writer
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