Friday, September 5, 2008

Free Agent at the End of the Season: Pat Burrell

Pat Burrell has developed into a constant power threat in the middle of the Phillies lineup over the past eight seasons. Burrell's tenure in Philadelphia has been unique because Burrell has maintained a tremendous level of consistency even after he bombed out in 2003. Phillies fans have clamored for Burrell's exit for the past few seasons, but they currently have no one else to replace him in the lineup. Burrell has developed into an acquired taste for the Phillies, but we shall see if they decide to re-sign "Pat the Bat".

The Case for Burrell
-He's consistent.
Burrell has hit at least 20 HR in every season he has played and since 2003, he has at least a .256 batting average. Also, Burrell hits both right-handed and left-handed pitching, which is a great because he's not a liability against anyone. If you sign Burrell, you know what your going to get.

-He gets on base a lot.
Since 2004, Burrell's OBP has varied from .375-.400, which is a very good clip for a power hitter. You can count on Burrell to work alot of deep counts and take a good amount of walks in the middle of the order.

-Burrell is clutch.
I cannot tell you how many times "Pat the Bat" has killed the Mets. Burrell has made late game heroics against the Mets his norm and has single-handedly caused Met fans more anguish than any other player I can remember (maybe Chipper Jones?). This guy killed us. I hate to see Burrell at the plate in a big spot.

-The Ballpark!
There is no doubt that the Phillies play in one of the easiest ballparks to hit homers in, but you wouldn't know it by looking at Burrell's stats. Burrell has actually hit 20 HR on the road and only 10 at home. To me, this is a great stat. Even though Burrell should have more than 10 at home, his high total on the road shows me that his numbers aren't inflated.

The Case Against Burrell
-He probably plays the worst left field I have ever seen.
Burrell jaggedly lumbers after balls and makes every ball hit to him an adventure. If you are going to have Burrell in left, make sure you have a center fielder than can cover lots of ground. He's brutal.

-His age.
Burrell is turning 32 at the end of this season, which should make GMs hesitant to give him tons of years. Even though Burrell's stats have not declined, I'm not sure how much trust I could put into a guy who is 32 years old and already moves like a 40 year old guy.

-After Contract Syndrome.
After receiving a huge extension from the Phillies in 2003, Burrell came out and laid an egg during the 2003 season. Any team who goes after Burrell has to be aware of that to ensure that Burrell does not just take a year off after taking the money.

This is where Burrell will have no problem garnering interest. Besides an aging Manny Ramirez, there are no other power hitting right handed bats in the free agent market with Burrell's pedigree and expereince.

(3 years/$42 mil)

Any team who gives Burrell more than 3 years is being foolish. But with that said, the market dictates that Burrell deserves this kind of money. However, it would not surprise me if he gets significantly more than this.

Carlos Lee: $16 mil/year
JD Drew: $14 mil/year
Aaron Rowand: $12 mil/year

To me, Burrell is just as good offensively as any of those guys. So I see no reason why he shouldn't be paid like the stud offensive player he is. But if he gets 5 or 6 years, whoever signs Burrell to that contract will regret it.
I expect the Phillies to do everything they can to re-sign Burrell, but don't be surprised if the losers of the Manny sweepstakes make a big push for Pat the Bat.

We will continue to look at the free agent class of 2009 with Oliver Perez.

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