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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Should the Phillies Re-Sign Aaron Rowand?

Mike Sielski, the best columnist people have never heard of -- for the Bucks County Courier Times -- suggests not.

His reasons are compelling, and you should read the whole thing. The potential non-signing has nothing to do with Rowand, his outstanding season or his leadership. It has everything to do with more glaring needs -- to fortify the team's starting pitching and bullpen and, also, to free up money to sign Ryan Howard to a long-term contract. Bottom line for the Phils is that the backup outfielders -- now that Pat Burrell has seemingly hit his way out of his funk -- are stronger than those who fill out the back of the bullpen roster. Put differently, the top four outfielders for the Phillies next year could well be Burrell, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Michael Bourn. The latter two have acquitted themselves well this year. Antonio Alfonseca, Jose Mesa and Clay Condrey, among others, have not done so well (even if Alfonseca pitched well early in the season and Condrey has pitched pretty well recently, with one huge blowup notwithstanding).

The Phillies could make the playoffs this year, or they could miss them narrowly for the third straight year. If the latter scenario comes into fruition, look for the Phillies to spend money on the pitching staff to improve it. They'll have to, because despite Houston's new love affair with one-time Phils' GM Ed Wade, the farm system is barren when it comes to pitching. Help will have to come from elsewhere, and it won't come cheap. Most likely, it also won't be named Kyle Lohse (whom Scott Boras represents and who will ask for too much) or Freddy Garcia (who was the biggest heralded bust since Danny Tartabull fouled a ball off his foot in the first game of the season about 15-20 years ago, missed the entire season and then never played for the Phillies thereafter). Cole Hamels is your ace, Kyle Kendrick is good, and Jamie Moyer will be 45 years old. Adam Eaton is a bust, J.D. Durbin is inconsistent, and Kyle Lohse has been okay. To get over the top, the team will need to do better.

Even if it means letting Aaron Rowand sign with someone else for a 4-year deal at $8 million per.


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