Rowand makes deal with Giants
The popular ex-Phils outfielder agreed to 5 years for $60 million.
For who? My teammates. And for what? To win.
The Phillies replayed those memorable words from Aaron Rowand's 2006 news conference - the one he held after he broke his face crashing into the center-field fence at Citizens Bank Park on May 11, 2006 - before every home game this season. But the Phillies need a new catchphrase during next season's pregame introductions, because Rowand has agreed to a five-year, $60 million contract with the San Francisco Giants.
The clubhouse and fan favorite is gone.
"It was obviously very important in my decision process," Rowand said yesterday about the importance of a five-year deal. "I had not had another contract option offered to me in the two places that I've played. I think the goal of every player is to try to get into a place long-term."
The Phillies simply weren't willing to commit for five years to the 30-year-old Rowand. They offered him a three-year contract, although it is unclear whether they matched the annual value of Rowand's deal with the Giants. Because the Phillies offered Rowand salary arbitration, they will receive the Giants' second-round draft pick in June, plus a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds.
"We would have loved to have had him stay," said Ruben Amaro Jr., the Phillies' assistant general manager. "But we're happy for Aaron. . . . Frankly, we had a feeling that if somebody was going to step up to that length [of contract], we weren't going to be in on Aaron. And we had expressed that pretty directly to him."
Rowand's breakneck play concerned the Phillies. They did not think he could stay healthy for the length of the contract. They also were not sure about his offensive production in the future.
Rowand is coming off a career year in which he hit .309 with 27 home runs and 89 RBIs. He made his first all-star team and won his first Gold Glove. Before last season, his career highs were 24 homers and 69 RBIs with the Chicago White Sox in 2004.
"And one thing, frankly, is we have a replacement in Shane Victorino," Amaro said. "As far as a defender is concerned, we feel we have what is every bit as good as Aaron, and perhaps at the end of the day, he might end up being better. This is not to disparage Aaron at all because he had a tremendous year for us and he was a tremendous guy in the clubhouse and he's a very integral part of our success. But we feel we had a replacement for him."
Amaro said the Phillies are still trying to improve their outfield. As it stands, Pat Burrell is in left, Victorino is in center and Jayson Werth is in right. The Phils have talked with the agent for former Brewer Geoff Jenkins, but the free agent's asking price might be too high.
"It's not the end of the off-season," Amaro said. "We'll continue to try to work to improve our outfield and some of our offensive production. We feel that if we can add another piece or two, we should be just fine."
Amaro said there is nothing imminent in the Phillies' quest to improve their pitching staff.
"That continues to be our priority," Amaro said. "We're hoping to improve it somehow, but that still remains to be seen."
Iguchi is a Padre. Tadahito Iguchi agreed to a one-year, $4 million contract to play second base with the San Diego Padres. The Phils offered Iguchi two guaranteed years, but they wanted him to play third base.
"It looked like he frankly left a lot of money on the table to be the second baseman in San Diego," Amaro said. "I don't think he was comfortable playing third base."
Staffing on the farm. The Phillies announced their minor-league development staff. New names include Eric Valent, Dusty Wathan, Razor Shines, Dave Lundquist, Frank Cacciatore, Doug Mansolino and Anton French.
Valent, a former Phillies outfielder, will be a coach for short-season, single-A Williamsport. Wathan, who spent the last two seasons in the Phillies' system, will be Williamsport's manager. Shines, who spent last season as the Chicago White Sox' third-base coach, will manage single-A Clearwater. Lundquist (coach for single-A Lakewood), Cacciatore (coach for double-A Reading), Mansolino (infield coordinator) and French (minor-league bunting/baserunning coach) also take on new responsibilities.
Dave Huppert, who won back-to-back championships in the Phillies' farm system, will manage triple-A Lehigh Valley. He replaces John Russell, who is the Pirates' new manager. Sal Rende has been named the system's hitting coordinator.