Q&A with Mitch Williams: Looking ahead to 2013 season

The Phillies need to make some moves in order to challenge for the NL East in 2013. MLB analyst and former Phillies closer Mitch Williams weighs in with his opinions.

Q: Since the Yankees were rumored to offer Alex Rodriguez to the Marlins, while eating most of his weighty contract, if you were Ruben Amaro, would you give the Bombers a call?

A: Absolutely. I know Alex had some issues in New York and this is nothing against (Yankee hitting instructor) Kevin Long but if Charlie got a hold of him, he could do wonders for him. If the Yankees eat 90 % of that deal, I would work out a trade in a second (for Rodriguez). Maybe he was exhausted during the playoffs. Get Alex. That would fill one need. They need a third baseman, three outfielders and a set-up man.

Q: Would you go after Ryan Madson to fill the set-up spot?

A: Absolutely.

Q: But Madson has Scott Boras as an agent and the Phillies don’t sign his clients.

A: If I were Ryan, I would get rid of Boras. He doesn’t even need an agent for this deal. Sign a one-year deal and work back your market value after the Tommy John surgery. Boras cost Madson and his family millions last year. Ryan doesn’t need Boras. I just spoke with Ryan last week and he told me that he is feeling good.

Q: The Phillies have some young arms in the bullpen. The guy who has off the charts potential to be a monster is Jake Diekman.

A: I agree. Diekman could be another (Atlanta Braves’ dominant set-up man Eric) O’Flaherty. He has that long, gangly body. I would love to spend an hour with Diekman. But the Phillies have Rich Dubee, who is an outstanding pitching coach. When Diekman figures it out, it’s going to be ridiculous with his 100 mph fastball.

Q: What happened to Antonio Bastardo in 2012?

A: He fell in love with his slider way too much.

Q: The outfield is wide open. What’s your take on Domonic Brown?

A: Domonic Brown will never be an everyday player.

Q: Ruben Amaro claims he’s not crazy about the free agents. What do you think? Let’s start with B.J. Upton.

A: B.J. Upton would be a good fit for the Phillies. He’s a guy you could hit at the top of the lineup. You could put him in the six-hole.

Q: What about his low batting average, high strikeout rate and alleged bad attitude?

A: I think he would hit 30 home runs in that ballpark. Charlie would help him. Playing in Philadelphia would help him. Imagine going from an empty park with a small fan base to playing in Philly. The adrenaline would be pumping. He’s one of the best young centerfielders in the game. I can see the Phillies going for him.

Q: How about Josh Hamilton?

A: Josh is one of the top three in the game in terms of talent. If I’m a GM, I’m going after him, despite all of his baggage. He’s that gifted and strong.

Q: I’m afraid to ask you to make predictions since you told us that the Phillies had zero chance of re-signing Cole Hamels.

A: I was shocked that they got it done. I think Cole left a lot of money on the table. It made me think a lot of him because he left behind $30 or $40 million, if he went on the open market. Having Cole, a young ace, in the fold for many years, is great for the Phillies. There are few pitchers of his caliber.

Q: Third base is the trickiest position to fill. The odds of A-Rod coming to Philly are microscopic. There are few decent free agents, who are third baseman. Is there someone under a rock that can do the job?

A: I would go with Danny Valencia. He put up good numbers two years ago. He had a down year in Minnesota. He was traded to Boston but he’s blocked there. He is a vacuum at third, who you could have for nothing. If the Phillies sign a big bat or two to play center, add Madson and go after someone like a Valencia, they’ll be fine.

Q: Plus Ryan Howard will be all the way back from his injury. The amazing thing is that some people complained about Howard at the end of the season, which is baffling when you consider he drove in 56 runs in 71 games on one-leg.

A: Anyone who complains about Ryan Howard in Philadelphia is out of their mind. He’ll be healthier next year and if he’ll do what he normally does, hit 40 home runs and drive in 130. I know people complain about his batting average but I don’t care about that. I care about production. He hits when men are on base. You have Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Jimmy Rollins. You add some pieces to that and the Phillies will be where they need to be.

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