According to multiple sources, the Phillies are very close to signing a pair of free agents in OF Geoff Jenkins and RHP Chad Durbin.
Thus far, the offseason has been an exercise in treading water as they have done little to improve the team, and a lot to keep the team where it was last year. At closer, they replaced Brett Myers with Brad Lidge (push). At starting pitcher, they replaced Kyle Lohse with Myers (Myers has better stuff, but remember how bad he pitched to start the year, and how good Lohse pitched at the end. Push). Abraham Nunez out, Eric Bruntlett in (pretend you care). J.C. Romero out, and then back in again (we need Philly Romero, not Boston Romero). And as of this morning, they have replaced Aaron Rowand in their outfield with a Geoff Jenkins / Jayson Werth platoon.
So what kind of production will we (theoretically) lose from this most recent trade-off? Jenkins will likely be playing most of his time against RHP, and Werth will play against lefties and select righties. If you take all of Jenkins ABs against RHP last year, plus all of Werth’s ABs (he doesn’t have enough against just LHP for it to be statistically relevant), you get a total of 610 at-bats. Rowand had 612 last year. Below is the comparison of Rowand v. the Jenkins/Werth hybrid for the 2007 season.
OK – so clearly a downgrade in some respects (more strikeouts, slightly lower averages, less extra-base hits), but probably not as bad in other areas (more RBI, walks) as you might think. I would rather have Rowand, but is the difference between the 2 sets of numbers above worth $47 million (roughly the difference in Rowand and Jenkins contracts)? Considering arguably the best free agent pitcher out there, Carlos Silva, just signed for $44 million, and Rowand had by far his best year of his career last year, I would say no – and it’s not even close.
I don’t think you’ll find a Phillies fan who didn’t want Rowand to stay, he was a Philly-type guy. But the ratio of production/money, as you can see above, just didn’t make sense for them, and I can understand their stance. People will argue that you can’t replace his clubhouse personality and effect on a team. I would have agreed, if these were still the Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell and Scott Rolen Phillies. But they aren’t. This is Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard’s team – and there is plenty of good clubhouse karma to go around. Aaron Rowand leaving isn’t going to change that.
I wish Aaron the best of luck in San Francisco, and I hope he likes the city, because they are by far the worst team in a very tough division. Now, let’s hope the Phillies replace Adam Eaton with Kris Benson and Antonio Alfonseca with Akinori Otsuka, and we can start writing about some improvements around here.