Orlando! The central Florida town where everything is going great.
And you know when the city's pastries are becoming self-aware and giving you the weather forecast, it's probably mid-ecember, when the baseball offseason hits a fever pitch: the MLB Winter Meetings.
Some GMs, like Billy Beane, despise them, and prefer to conduct their business before and/or after the meetings. But for the most part, it will be a gathering of baseball architects, players, and agents to hammer out those deals that just didn't sound as good on the phone. With the amount of frantic manuevering that's been done to multiple MLB rosters thus far, these could be some of the more vibrant days of the offseason.
Ruben Amaro has stayed in the background for the most part. He signed Marlon Byrd and a re-upped on Carlos Ruiz. Antonio Bastardo, Kyle Kendrick, Ben Revere, John Mayberry, and Kevin Frandsen are all dealt with. He's locked in a few minor league deals so there's a warm body or two available to inherit a major role should disaster strike.
The key moves have been Byrd, Ruiz, and the recent trade of Erik Kratz to the Blue Jays for reliever Brad Lincoln. Lincoln has a career full of average numbers, but came cheap and solid. Put his numbers next to those of Amaro's other pitcher signing, Jeff Manship, and Lincoln looks even better. Rumor has it that he's trying to move the somewhat immobile Jonathan Papelbon. We'll see how well that goes.
So, what should/could Amaro have in store for the summit?
Executives have already mentioned how the starting pitching market may take longer to develop than the others, due to Masahiro Tanaka and the MLB/NPB posting issues, as well as a lack of a deal with any teeth for David Price.
Maybe Amaro has a plan for the rotation. Maybe Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is so legit, his spot is unquestioned. Maybe the organization has faith in Jonathan Pettibone. But if they don't, and they may not because these things, namely Gonzalez, are very much a mystery, then Amaro may attempt to land one of the middler names in the free agent power rankings. Even if he is trying to save money, a Scott Feldman-esque starter is still fetching 3 years/$30 million these days.
What he like won't be able to do is land a David Price-level player, due to a lack of trade pieces that other teams, especially those scheming Rays, would actually want for a top-tier pitcher.
There are a multitude of reasons not to trade for Jonathan Papelbon. The bad news is, other GMs probably know that. So the Phillies can try as hard as they want, but quietly pushing Papelbon, his 12-team no trade clause, and his $26 million over the next two years out the door will be a daunting task.
It would be a nice move, it's just not very possible. And it would mean more work to stock the pen, something the Phillies should probably never stop at least considering. There are many young arms out in the pen for the Phillies, and the team's alleigiance to them the past year or two indicates they are going to make it work.
Amaro already doesn't seem like he's in the mood or position to make a splash, but if he does, this will likely not be the spot where it happens.
The Phillies were 27th out of 30 teams in runs scored in 2013 wih 610. The NL average was 649 and the MLB average was 675. They were 21st in team slugging (.384) and 24th in team OPS (.690).
If the Phillies want to score more runs, and they seem like they want to, Marlon Byrd probably isn't going to do it himself. There should be another outfielder on Amaro's list, whether to further deepen the setup already in place, or because Domonic Brown's name is going to pop up in potential trades all week. Speed would be a nice option to have to backup Byrd, who is a power option but does not offer much in the way of explosive velocity.
Having just acquired a subsequent Rule 5 draft pick from the Cubs last week (The draft to be held Thursday), the Phillies have the 4th and 7th selections in the process that allows them to steal an unprotected minor leaguer off another team's roster. Many will point out it was this way that the team initially got Shane Victorino, but it should also be noted that Victorino was quite a Rule 5 gem, and that often times you're just going to land a Michael Martinez.