It's a little tough to think about baseball with snow on the ground. We're also in the middle of a job search, a new apartment search, throwing arm rehab, the holidays and, oh, did we mention we just had a birthday last week? Sabremetrically speaking, we appear to be entering the downside of our athletic career production, having posted more injuries than catches in last week's flag football game. Yes, we are busy.
But we'll suck it up.
Pat Gillick is reportedly making the most of his lifetime of connections by power-networking at the Baseball winter meetings in Dallas (no doubt, enjoying the non-Toronto, non-Philadelphia, non-Seattle, non-Baltimore weather -- what's with this guy's penchant for northern cities?) by facilitating the reporting of trade possibility after trade possibility after trade possibility. Most involve the Phils getting fairly reputable starting pitching, ranging from the promising (Mark Prior) to the overrated (Matt Clement) to the wildly overrated (Carl Pavano) to the Randy Wolf-like (Barry Zito), to the Barry Zito-like (Erik Bedard) to the Andy Reid-like (David Wells), plus a few others who's names whiz by like some fan telephone polls on the main street thoroughfare (Odalis Perez, Mark Redman, Jerod Weaver, Bob Lahblah).
Cook with the hotstove if you must, but either the Phils attain a pedigreed hurler or Ryan Madsen enters the rotation, hoping to provide the youthful promise and spark that as eluded Gavin Floyd to this point, save one night in St. Louis this past Spring. For the Phils to really make out in this deal, especially if dealing their best hitter, they ideally need to find someone who fits these criteria:
1. 3 years of major league service or more
2. Not in the last year of their current contract
3. A 3:1 groundball to flyball ratio
4. Can log over 200 innings consistantly
5. Has career WHIP under 1.3
6. Lefthanded, but not essential
7. Under 30-32 years of age
8. Limited injury history
9. Has mental durability to enjoy pitching in Philadelphia for a manger not particularly strong at handling pitchers.
As you can see, being serious also means being limited. By all accounts, after the first 8 points, Barry Zito really is the frontrunner or best deal. He momentarily stalls at point number 2, but otherwise fares as well as anyone put to the test (I believe he's a flyball pitcher, but how many lefthanded groundball pitchers are their, really?). However, number 9 is a different story. Zito is loved by many, but in many ways does not seem like he would pass the "Philadelphia test". He is a career west coast guy, having grown up in San Diego, played college ball at USC, and has been with A's ever since. He surfs, plays in a rock band (perhaps he can jam with Brett Myers), has a radio show, has appeared in a stage production, and is generally known to be hanging out. No one can doubt his talent or accomplishments, but he's a Hollywood guy. One has to wonder how a career Californian would react to being shipped to someplace where it actually snows.
To be perfectly circumspect, one has to wonder.