Philadelphia Phillies' Best Fallback Pitching Options Following Recent Signings

Phil Keidel@@PhilKeidelContributor IINovember 26, 2013

At least Lee will not have to worry about giving up any home runs to Byrd in 2014.
At least Lee will not have to worry about giving up any home runs to Byrd in 2014.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Barring something unforeseen, the Philadelphia Phillies have settled on their everyday eight in the field for 2014.

Third baseman Cody Asche will join the veteran trio of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins in the infield. Carlos Ruiz and his three-year contract extension will be behind the plate.

Free-agent signing Marlon Byrd will set up shop in the Phillies outfield along with Ben Revere and Domonic Brown.

If you are holding out hope that the Phillies have a blockbuster trade in them, don't. "We may look to try to improve our lineup somehow or tweak our lineup somehow," said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. in the wake of the Ruiz signing.

That does not sound like a man sitting on a bombshell. What you see on the roster is pretty much what you will get, as far as hitters and fielders are concerned.

So the likely adds to the Phillies roster, if any are forthcoming, will be made to the pitching staff.

MLB.com beat writer Todd Zolecki's recent conversation with Amaro Jr. suggested as much, with Amaro Jr. saying this: 

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If we can still improve the rotation and our bullpen, we will try to do that. We had a lot of six-year free agents pitching in the rotation, so we’re going to try and create some depth on the pitching side.

Which pitchers make sense for the Phillies?

Ryan Lawrence's recent Philadelphia Daily News article named all of the usual suspects. They fall into two categories.

Veteran pitchers who would command short-term, short-money contracts (and come with lower expectations, naturally) include Bronson Arroyo, A.J. Burnett and Ryan Vogelsong.

Phillies fans would probably far prefer a younger, more expensive option who could realistically win 15 games in 2014 if everything breaks right. Names who fit that description are Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza and Ervin Santana.

In a lot of ways, Jimenez, Garza and Santana are very similar. All three are power arms who have had extended periods of dominance pockmarked by significant stretches where they were injured and/or could not get anyone out.

Jimenez could slot nicely between left-handers Lee and Hamels.
Jimenez could slot nicely between left-handers Lee and Hamels.Jason Miller/Getty Images

Given Amaro Jr.'s commitment to winning in 2014—misguided as it may be—cheaping out on pitching help now would be penny wise and pound foolish.

David Schoenfeld of ESPN.com posted recently to his SweetSpot blog why the Washington Nationals should sign Jimenez over Garza or Santana:

Jimenez is the one who can provide the most upside and probably comes in a little less expensive. Plus he has a rubber arm, having made more than 30 starts six seasons in a row, one of just 13 starters to have done that. Garza has battled some injuries, and Santana has been inconsistent and homer-prone despite playing in pitcher-friendly parks.

Accepting that logic on its face, it is as applicable to the Phillies as it is to the Nationals. Perhaps more so.

The Phillies resisted long-term contracts for pitchers for years due to fear of injury, making Garza an unattractive gamble. And Citizens Bank Park is a bandbox, which suggests that Santana might struggle there.

So Jimenez may well be the right choice. Whether the Phillies can afford him is up to Amaro Jr.

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