Friday, January 30, 2015

Billingsley Signed to 1-YR Deal, Phils' Pitching Depth

The Phillies signed RHP Chad Billingsley, age 30, to a one-year, $1.5MM deal with an awards package that could give him $8MM. The former Dodger has not seen a lot of ML action over the last two years because of, you guessed it, elbow issues. However, Chad passed his physical and will join a rotation that includes Cole Hamels (not likely to be traded), Cliff Lee (still expected healthy), Jerome Williams (re-signed to 1-YR/ $2.5MM deal), and Aaron Harang (1-YR/ $5MM).

Unfortunately, if Chad pitches well in Spring Training, this signing bumps David Buchannan (sophomore season) to the 6th spot starter, perhaps he’ll be the long-man in the ‘pen or perhaps he’ll start the year as the No. 1 in AAA. This also hurts Miguel Gonzalez (2nd YR of 3-YR/ $12MM deal) in his bid to become a ML-starter and means that Sean O’Sullivan, Ethan Martin and Aaron Nola (next in line on the depth chart) will definitely be sent to the minors amongst the first or second round of cuts. Jon Pettibone & Adam Morgan, who are recovering from injuries, and Jesse Biddle, who had a rough year in AA last season, will probably be sent down during round one.

Analysis: I like this signing better than Harang given the age & lack of depth at ML starter with K.K. & A.J. gone, but both Chad and Aaron should have been signed to minor-league deals with an invitation to Spring Training. I do not favor pushing David Buchannan out of the fourth or fifth starter. Pitching is probably the only thing that will keep the Phillies afloat in 2015 as the offense will be more likely to regress than progress thanks to the losses of Byrd & Rollins. In a rebuilding year with Rube as GM, these signings will happen. And regardless of a rebuild or not, these signings happen on a contending team as well, although more likely to be minor-league deals in the latter case.

Also, I am going to go a bit more into our bullpen depth, so here are the top 9 most likely to see action during the on-deck series: J. Pap (unless trade), K. Giles (8th inning or later), J. Diekman (innings 6-8, primarily the 7th), J. De Fratus (mid-to-late relief), M. Hollands (middle relief), A. Oliver (Rule 5 middle relief), D. Buchannan, M. Gonzalez, and H. Neris. This signing pushed C. Jimenez off the 40-man roster; L. Garcia & P. Aumont (yes, he’s still around) will be in camp. However, based on the last couple of years, they are going to be in AAA.

The next entry will likely discuss why we should be optimistic about 2015, mostly discussing the offense.

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