With the Phillies looking to boost their lineup going into the second half of the season (but without sacrificing prospects and money and all those other neat things that you usually have to give away to get such batting help), we’ve been subjected to any number of delightful imaginary replacements, including Milton Bradley (GAH!) and Carlos Beltran (Check his salary and start crying). Both speculative rumors (nee spumors) had no grounding in reality. Now, Buster Olney of ESPN has taken time out from fetching Brian Cashman's coffee to deliver an ACTUAL rumor about the Phillies looking for bats:
The Phillies looking for a RHed hitter, and have made inquiries, specifically, on Michael Cuddyer and Josh Willingham, sources say.
O RLY? Well now, there’s a rumor I can really sink my teeth into. We now have not just one, but two fancy new players to daydream about replacing Jayson Werth’s productivity in the Phillies lineup and turning the team into the unstoppable killing machine I think Phillies fans have all been praying for. Let’s take a look at both men.
Cuddyer is currently stuck on a disappointing Twins team that’s likely ready to write off the rest of the year. His current salary is a robust $8 million a season, which would put the Phillies over the luxury tax threshold, something they supposedly aren’t too keen on doing. The Phillies could offset that expense by giving the Twins someone like Brad Lidge ($11.5 million), but the Twins aren’t stupid. They’re looking to shed payroll and add young talent, and a trade like that does nothing for them. Cuddyer is a better batter right now than Willingham, with 10 homers and a decent .280 batting average. Not exactly a bone-crusher at the plate, but someone who can be fairly productive.
Willingham is the cheaper option ($6 million a year, still putting Philly over the tax limit), but for that extra $2 million you save you get a guy who’s batting .231, and there’s no need to replace Raul Ibanez if you’re gonna replace him with someone who isn’t that much better at putting the ball in play. Willingham also has ten homers, so if the Phillies feel like all they need is a 20-30 home run guy somewhere in the lineup to keep pitchers honest, well then I guess Willingham is an okay option.
But really, if the Phillies are gonna bust through the luxury tax ceiling in order to find batting help, I don’t see why they’d settle for either of these two players. You may as well go all out here if you’re gonna do anything. We’ll see if Ruben Amaro agrees.