Jan 21, 2014

The Return Of The Wheeze Kids

Ruben Amaro is seemingly on a mission to bring back as many aging former Phillies as he can.  It started in November when he signed Marlon Byrd to a 2 year, $16 million dollar contract.  Byrd began his career with the Phillies in 2002, but was traded to the Washington Nationals just a month into the 2005 season.

In December, he brought catcher Lou Marson back to Philadelphia to compete for the spot to back up Carlos Ruiz.  Mason was one of the prospects that the Phillies traded away at the 2009 deadline to acquire Cliff Lee, so it's possible that Lee could pitch this season to one of the players who he was traded for.

Today, they signed two time all-star Bobby Abreu to a minor league contract with an invitation to Spring Training.  Abreu was taken by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 1997 MLB Expansion Draft and was then immediately traded to the Phillies for Kevin Stocker.  He immediately became one of the Phillies best hitters and was our starting right fielder for the next eight and a half seasons until he was practically given away to the Yankees at the 2006 deadline for a few minor league players who didn't look like promising prospects at the time, and who didn't contribute for the Phillies (or anyone else) in a meaningful way.  It was one of the most foolish trades that our front office has made in recent memory.

Abreu's best days are behind him, but he hit an encouraging .322/.416/.461 in 50 games for Leones del Caracas during the Venezuelan Winter League 2013-14 season, so there may be something left in the tank for one more productive season for the team where he became a star.

Jack on Beerleaguer proposed an interesting gambling exercise for the 2014 season: which of the five Phillies who were with the team back in 2004 will be more productive ten years later.  Here are their slash lines:

Jimmy Rollins (154 games) - .289/.348/.455
Chase Utley (94 games) - .266/.308/.468
Ryan Howard (19 games) - .282/.333/.564
Bobby Abreu (159 games) - .301/.428/.544
Marlon Byrd (106 games) - .228/.287/.321

The chances of Abreu coming close to his 2004 productivity in his age 40 season are slim to none, but I suppose stranger things have happened.  The rest of them have a reasonable chance, but if I had to put my money on one of them, it'd be either Utley or Byrd.  Who knows... maybe they'll all put together a magical season and be the second incarnation of the Wheeze Kids who will lead Philadelphia to the World Series.