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Saturday, July 22, 2006

The $100 Million Infield

Those of you who are well read in baseball history know all about the $100,000 infield. They played for Connie Mack, owner and manager of the Philadelphia A's, who alternatively (because his team was poorly capitalized as a result of Mack's being dependent on the gate for his livelihood) fielded great teams (the A's from 1929-1931 might be the best team of all-time) and horrible ones (teams thereafter didn't exactly set the world on fire). Around 1910, Mr. Mack assembled an outstanding infield, featuring Stuff McInnis at first, Hall of Famer Eddie Collins at second, Jack Barry at short and Hall of Famer Frank "Home Run" Baker at third. It was a terrific infield on an excellent team.

There was an intriguing rumor in the Philadelphia papers today, intriguing in that it was mentioned as a rumor and then reported that both sides denied the potential trade. But it would be one of the biggest blockbusters in recent memory, and it goes like this:

The Phillies would send Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell, David Bell (white hot in July) and Tom Gordon (the All-Star) to the Yankees for Alex Rodriguez. There was no mention in the rumor, of course, as to how much of Abreu's salary would get picked up, but the trade would make sense in that the Bronx Bombers would get desperately needed corner outfielders (especially if Hideki Matsui doesn't recover quickly and Gary Sheffield is out for the season), a third baseman (they'll need one to fill in for A-Rod, to whom the Yankee fans haven't taken a shine because a) he hasn't hit well with men on base and b) he is not Derek Jeter), and a great setup man in Gordon (remember, a guy named Rivera is their closer).

The Phillies would get A-Rod, thereby giving them the best infield in baseball, bar none:

1B -- Ryan Howard. Makes you think of Willie Stargell and Willie McCovey, both of whom are in the Hall of Fame.

2B -- Another All-Star, Chase Utley, the best 2B in the National League and currently enjoying a 22-game hitting streak.

SS -- Jimmy Rollins. Great talent, needs more discipline in the strike zone, but a good player.

3B -- A-Rod, who already has 450 home runs in his career and will definitely get to 700+ if he finishes his career in Citizens Bank Park.

True, the Phillies would deplete their OF and would start a less-than-thrilling group of David Dellucci in left (but he's played well in a part-time role and hit 27 HRs in Texas last season), Aaron Rowand and Shane Victorino, who would give them the leadoff hitter they desperately need. Lord knows who the back-ups would be, but the Phillies would a) give the fans an exciting infield, b) give Victorino a chance to start and have the leadoff hitter they deserve, c) shed Abreu and Burrell, who have been a symbol for overpaid players who can put up numbers but who don't win championships (the latter is rather unfair, because the last time I checked, neither of them is a pitcher, and pitching has been the hometown nine's problem). It also would leave the Phillies without a closer, and from reading yesterday's Daily News, many Phillies believe that the team, as currently constructed, can win the NL wild card. My thoughts on that are -- bleh! First, they don't have the pitching, and second, if they do, they'll win it with 82 games and get blasted out of the playoffs in the first round. They'll still be stuck with the same core that hasn't done much over the past 5+ seasons.

It's doubtful that this trade would happen, but the infield that would result in Philadelphia were it to occur would leave the fans' mouths agape at the assemblage of talent.

At least for a moment.

And a decent lineup, as follows:

RF Shane Victorino
SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Chase Utley
3B Alex Rodriguez
1B Ryan Howard
LF David Dellucci
CF Aaron Rowand
C Mike Lieberthal
P ____________

And then, again, they'll start wondering about four big questions:

1. Who will close?
2. Where will the starting pitching come from?
3. Who will the back-up outfielders be?
4. And, given the perennial problem as reflected in question #2, why did they build Citizens Bank Park the way they did in the first place?

The $100 Million Infield?

Okay, the $50 million infield.

Certainly, it has a nice ring to it.

Especially since you have the $1 million starting pitching staff.


Blogger R2K said...

: )

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The catcher for the $100,000 infield was Harry "Hap" Steinfeldt. I'd take his great great grandson, if he has one, sight unseen as a replacement for Lieberthal.


9:24 AM  

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