The Phillies kept busy on a rainy afternoon by swinging a deal for Baltimore outfielder Jeff Conine. The Phils also receive cash considerations in exchange for a player to be named later.
Splitting time at first base and left field, the 40-year-old veteran was hitting .265 with nine homers and 49 RBIs and will add another right-handed bat to the Phillies bench. However, this deal probably has more to do with playing in 32 post-season games.
Along with experience, Conine carries some heavy baggage, reportedly the reason this deal wasn’t made sooner. His $2 million option for next season vests if he logs 18 more plate appearances, making it almost certain he will return in 2007, which will be his 17th professional season.
The Orioles also sent cash for a player to be named. The deal was reportedly completed during the seventh inning of Baltimore's 5-4 win over Tampa Bay.
Conine won’t be phased by the bright lights and snapbulbs of the post-season, and as much as I hate to say it, the Phillies probably needed someone like that. Therein lies the rub: If they fall short, his 113 post-season plate appearances are totally useless.
It should always be about October, but this is truly about the ring. Although I’m not particularly thrilled at the loss of a prospect and addition of another long-term contract, if the Phillies do make it, it’s going to be totally worth it. Conine is still in very good shape and has some fair RBI totals. Even though his skills have erroded, better Conine than Joe Thurston or Chris Roberson down one run in the ninth against Mariano Rivera. Conine brings 31 postseason hits to the table, which is 31 more than the entire starting lineup minus Abraham Nunez, who has nine.
I don’t think it will be impossible to trade Conine before next season, but it’s entirely possible they will need him anyway. Having some flexibility is an added bonus. The Phillies would love to unload Pat Burrell. They will likely lose David Dellucci, who said he wants to play in the southern part of the country. There’s also no room for both Chris Roberson or Michael Bourn, and neither one is a sure bet at all. They could still take a cold, hard look at Aaron Rowand and decide his $5 million option isn’t worth it.
In Gillick we trust.