March 1, 2010 1:37 AM

Flying Under the Radar


The Phillies' offseason has included several high profile acquisitions. Roy Halladay, Placido Polanco, and Ross Gload are among the household names joining the defending NL Champions. While most of the offseason's media coverage has centered around the Gload Signing, there were other moves within the organization that merit comment.

OF/1B Tagg Bozied was signed to a minor league contract.

Bozied was a highly-regarded Padres' prospect in the early 21st century. Unfortunately, he ruptured the patella tendon in his left knee in July 2004, while celebrating a walk-off grand slam in the minors. Bozied spent the remainder of the decade living the life of a minor league journeyman. In 2009, Bozied began the season in Taiwan, and finished it in the Pirates' organization, posting a .362 wOBA (and a 27.9 K%) at AAA.

The right-handed hitting slugger will, likely, spend 2010 batting in the middle of the order for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (AAA). Immediately upon his signing, Bozied became one of the favorites for the AAA All-Star Game's Home Run Derby, to be hosted at LV's Coca-Cola Park.

Why should Phillies' fans care about this signing? First off, "Tagg Bozied" is a truly great baseball name. Secondly, CHONE projects Bozied to a .329 wOBA and a .5 WAR for 2010. Ross Gload's CHONE projections for 2010: .316 wOBA and a -.3 WAR. Would Bozied have been a better choice for the Phils' bench? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But he certainly would have been a much cheaper alternative. With the salaries of many Phils' starters heading towards the stratosphere, maybe a more "top-heavy/bottom-light" method of roster construction will need to be considered. Why pay more than the MLB minimum, for players likely to spend the bulk of their time rooted to Manager Charlie Manuel's bench? Especially when those roster spots could be upgraded, if desired, with trade deadline deals...

SS Kami Mattioli was the final offseason addition to the roster of the Phillies' Ballgirls.

Mattioli will provide the Ballgirls with another high-OBP bat for the top of the order, strong infield defense, and leadership on (and off) the field. After Halladay, this may have been the Phils' best offseason acquistion.

However, the process by which Mattioli was selected was somewhat questionable. The Phillies could have had their sabermetric consultant(s) (and scouts) determine the final roster spot, considering the candidates' 2010 projections, as well as their potential impact on the current roster. Instead, they left the decision to a vote by the fans, a vote informed only by videos of the candidates' interviews. No stats, no scouting reports, no videos from game action, just the interviews were provided.

Fortunately, in this case, the crowds were wise, and the Ballgirls have their answer to Chase Utley. However, the Phillies need to clean up this process, and perhaps pick up a full-timer off the sabermetric waiver wire to help with these types of personnel decisions. Mattioli easily could have spent the next decade with a divisional rival. Or the Mets.

CF Shane Victorino signed a clothing deal with Silver Star Casting Company.

Victorino will be helping design a series of shirts with the MMA-outfitter. Unfortunately, the first will not be available until March 31st. At $40 a pop, it is no wonder Victorino could afford to eschew arbitration, and sign a three-year, $22 million extension. Perhaps Victorino can get impending free agent Jayson Werth involved in this venture?

The Phillies have two consecutive Fall Classic appearances under their belts, becoming a desirable destination for highly-regarded free agents/pending free agents (Polanco, Mattioli, Halladay, etc.) in the process. But when their players start designing $40 t-shirts, THAT'S when you know that the organization has reached a higher level.

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