The World Series is over, and we’ve entered my least favorite time of year – the time between the end of the Fall Classic and the start of Spring Training. As Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby once said, “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
Well, the good thing is that there will be plenty of work the Phillies will do this off-season to keep us from staring out the window on a cold winter day. They’ve already hired a new manager in Gabe Kapler, and as the weeks go by he’ll start to fill out his coaching staff.
We’ve got the end of the year awards (Freddy Galvis is a nominee for a Gold Glove award), free agents leaving the team, free agents joining, and some potential trades to clear up log-jams in both the outfield and infield. And through it all, fans will ponder how to make the Phillies a better team, and a possible contender, in 2018.
One area that they need to address is the starting rotation. After Aaron Nola, there are some serious question works. What to do with Vince Velasquez? I say move him to the bullpen. And what can we expect out of Jerad Eickhoff, Nick Pivetta, Ben Lively, Zach Eflin, and Mark Leiter Jr.? They all showed moments of brilliance at different points during the season, but for the most part, they were pretty unreliable.
With the potential there, the Phillies need to bring in a veteran starter or two to, not only groom the young guns, but also strengthen a weak rotation. With an extremely promising offense, it would be a shame to waste their talents with a poor rotation.
So who should they go after? There are big names on the market; names like Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish. But it would be foolish for the Phillies to throw money at them a year before the best free agent class ever hits the market after the 2018 season.
Two names that make a lot of sense for the Phillies to go after are Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn. 2017 marked the first year for both of them after Tommy John surgery, and they both performed nicely. Cobb won 12 games in 179 1/3 innings for the Rays, amassing 128 strike outs and posted 3.66 ERA.
Lynn put up very similar numbers for the Cardinals – 11 wins in 186 1/3 innings with 153 strike outs and a 3.43 ERA.
While they might not be flashy like Arrieta or Darvish, they know how to pitch and do it consistently. Both of them have had immense success in their careers, each with a career ERA of 3.50 or lower, and they both come from good organizations in Tampa Bay and St. Louis. After all, for years the Cardinals were looked at as the gold standard in how to scout and develop young talent.
Signing either of them to a three to five-year deal would have an immense impact for the Phils. It wouldn’t take a lot of money since both have durability issues, so they would be good bang for the buck, especially if they can pitch like they traditionally have throughout their careers.
The young arms that the Phillies have will be able to pick their brains, learn how to pitch, and hone their craft. Every good team puts their players in position to succeed, and gives them the necessary tools to learn. Look at the value Chase Utley brought to the Dodgers. Or how Nelson Agholar has improved this season after the Eagles signed Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith.
If the Phillies want to see improvement in their starting rotation and continue to develop the arms of the guys in there currently, they need to take a long, hard look at both Cobb and Lynn. And if things go south, they can always use them as trade bait come July.
Photo: Carl Fredrickson (via Flickr)