Back in 1969, Peggy Lee had hit with the song “Is that All There is?”
The vast majority of Philadelphia Phillies fans are probably too young to remember the tune, but not too young to be asking the question today after a series of underwhelming offseason moves by GM Ruben Amaro Jr. thus far.
The latest news out of the Phillies’ front office is that Amaro issued “Mercy Tenders” to Kyle Kendrick, Antonio Bastardo, Kevin Frandsen and John Mayberry Jr. Those guys are decent players, but it might be a stretch to call any of them good. Mercy Tenders is an apt description because those guys have been good soldiers for the Phillies, but not impact players by any means.
While teams like the New York Yankees have given fans Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann, the Phillies so far have recycled familiar faces like Bastaro, Frandsen, Kendrick and Mayberry. Signing those guys instead of upgrading caps the payroll around $159 million, including about $10 million of contract incentives. That leaves a lot of space before the Phillies reach the luxury tax threshold of $189 million.
The team’s ownership group has a history of wanting to avoid going over that threshold, but $30 million could mean that there is one offer left on Amaro’s table, and that probably would go to a starting pitcher.
Still on the market are free agents like Ervin Santana, Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez. Factor in the money Amaro’s bean-counting has saved so far combined with his penchant for wanting to make one “big splash” signing a year, and the Phillies certainly have room to sign a pitcher their fans can get excited about.
Either that, or this really is all there is, which would be a sad tune to hear for Phils’ fans.