What do the Philadelphia Phillies, a medical gurney and a year absence from baseball have in common? They are all intertwined via two recent acquisitions for an organization on the fritz.
A pair of veteran big leaguers just recently came to terms with the Phillies. While the contracts are both minor league deals with invitations to spring training, the signings reek of what's to come for the Phillies organization in 2014.
Recently acquired right-handed pitcher Chad Gaudin, a veteran who has donned the uniform of 10 teams since 2003, will earn $750,000 if he makes the roster in 2014. As a ground-ball pitcher, Gaudin was overly effective in San Francisco last season after fluttering each season since 2006 with Oakland.
On the plus side, Gaudin's 2013 ERA of 3.06 was far from lucky as his Fielder Independent Pitching (FIP) indicates. In 2013, Gaudin lauded a 3.34 FIP, a career-best and improvement from his previous summum bonum a year earlier.
Being far from lucky in one aspect doesn't mean luck didn't strike for the righty elsewhere. He posted an abnormally high 77.7 percent strand rate. Among qualifying pitchers, this would have nestled Gaudin right in front of Matt Harvey (77.4) and behind Anibal Sanchez (78.2). Simply put, Gaudin is not that good.
As a versatile arm, the Phillies could potentially benefit from what the soon-to-be 31-year-old presents though. He appears to be a viable option from the bullpen, with the ability to swing to the rotation on an as-needed basis. Last season's 12 starts for the Giants were the first since 2009 though. However, the heavy-handed question marks within Philadelphia leave a lot to be desired and Gaudin's repertoire doesn't blow the doors off of any clubhouse.
Noted for being a ground-ball pitcher, Gaudin's 38.4 percent ground-ball rate in '13 isn't very impressive. Comparatively speaking, Justin Masterson led the majors with a 58 percent ground-ball rate.
What makes this deal bad for Philadelphia is Gaudin's recent run-in with the law a year ago. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
According to police, Gaudin was drunk about 4:30 a.m. when he approached a 23-year-old woman on a gurney at Desert Springs Hospital, three miles east of the Las Vegas Strip.
The woman told police she was lying on a gurney in the emergency room lobby when Gaudin appeared, told her “she was gorgeous” and touched her face and breast, she said.
A witness heard Gaudin say, “I will take care of you, don’t worry about them,” to the woman and then saw him touch her face, leg and breast, according to a police report.
The other acquisition, outfielder Bobby Abreu, sat out the 2013 Major League Baseball season after a diminished attempt to prolong his career the year before. If the former Phillies star can "break camp with the club," he will earn $800,000 in 2014.
Set to turn 40 in March, Abreu fits the mold of what the Phillies have been doing roster-wise. He is an aging player, hits left and last saw a morsel of success in 2010. For a team that has struggled with too much left-handed hitting, one has to wonder where Abreu fits within the Phillies lineup should he crack the roster after spring training.
The upside to Abreu is his patience at the plate. He typically posts respectable walk rates even though his strikeout rate has incrementally increased since 2009. Despite age catching up to the former Phillies hero, he could be an upgrade on the bench over John Mayberry Jr.
Aside from that sad fact, Abreu did have some glorious days in Philadelphia. Despite Jayson Stark's claim that the Abreu-led Phillies were a leaderless clubhouse from 1997 through 2005, Abreu's Home Run Derby win in the 2005 MLB All-Star Game festivities will never be forgotten. However, after a record-breaking performance in that derby, Abreu would go homerless in the 19 games following the All-Star break.
Undeterred by the minor league contracts Gaudin and Abreu received, the signings themselves are reminiscent of the pre-Charlie Manuel skipper days. They are a step in the wrong direction. Sure, neither player is guaranteed a spot on the big league roster for Opening Day, but they are symbolic of the direction Philadelphia is going.
Advanced statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.
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