Do you like the Ken Giles trade?
-- Tim K., Eden Prairie, Minn.
I like it because 30-start, 200-inning pitchers are more difficult to find than effective closers. They also are much more expensive. We just watched Jeff Samardzija sign a five-year, $90 million contract with the Giants and J.A. Happ sign a three-year, $36 million contract with the Blue Jays. Samardzija has a 4.09 ERA in his career. Happ has a 4.13 ERA. Meanwhile, Craig Kimbrel might be the best closer in baseball, but he has a four-year, $42 million contract.
It is more important for the Phillies to build a solid rotation than have an elite closer in Giles, who will be pitching about 65 of 1,450 innings (less than five percent) in a rebuilding year in 2016. Think about it. How many times last season did Jonathan Papelbon go between save opportunities? He would have had more if Philadelphia had better starting pitching. That is the Phillies' goal. Build a strong rotation and find a closer when the time comes. And when the time comes they will have the money to spend, if they already have not developed a closer internally.
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As a longtime fan, it's frustrating that we are going sit back and wait when we can add a good player or two to fill the stadium and show the fans that we are serious about going in the right direction. I would have never gotten rid of Cole Hamels when pitching is probably the sole source to winning. You're telling me we are not going to win for the next three to five years. As a fan, I don't want to wait that long to see my Phillies make another run at the title.
-- Robert K., Woodbury, N.J.
First, comments that the Phillies need to sign a couple free agents to massive contracts to prove they are committed to winning baffles me. Philadelphia was one of the highest spending teams in baseball, essentially from the time it signed Jim Thome in 2002 to this past season when it traded Hamels, Chase Utley and Papelbon. Do people really believe the Phillies suddenly are saying, "You know what? Let's just take a few years off." In my opinion, going out this offseason and signing players like Jason Heyward and Johnny Cueto to monstrous contracts would be reckless in regards to the rebuilding plan. Believe me, when the time comes for the Phillies to add a few free agents to help their core, they will spend the money. They have said they will. But now is not the time.
It's not like there won't be talent available in a few years, either. This offseason isn't their only opportunity. There are always free agents to sign and players to be traded. We just saw that with Giles. And I think the Phillies would prefer long-term success and a packed ballpark for multiple seasons than the short-term bump they would have received signing players such as Heyward and Cueto.
What are the Phillies' plans for Cody Asche going into 2016? He lost the third-base job to Maikel Franco. Will he have a fair chance at an everyday job in the outfield, or might it behoove the Phillies to trade him?
-- Brett L., Broomall, Pa.
Asche will have the opportunity to play this season, but the pressure will be on him because Aaron Altherr and Tyler Goeddel will be pushing him for playing time (along with Odubel Herrera and Peter Bourjos). Nick Williams will be looking to make the jump to the big leagues, too. The Phillies really like Asche. They love his makeup and they would love to see him succeed. But the results must be there.