Been a pretty crazy last 48 hours if I do say so myself.
Kyle Kendrick gets optioned to Triple-A, Jamie Moyer gets hurt and placed on the disabled list, Phillies fall to seven games back in the NL East, and last but not least, ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE.
Well, everything except the last one.
Only three games over .500 at the end of July, the hands of the Phillies organization are reaching towards the panic button, and slowly but surely, reaching to push it (and for good reason). With Kendrick and Moyer out of the fold for presumably the rest of the season, that leaves THREE pitchers (Halladay, Hamels, Blanton) who can be deemed as starters based on their big league careers. As most of you know, a normal major league pitching rotation is usually satisfied with FIVE pitchers.
By means of basic subtraction, that means the Phillies have TWO spots they have to fill.
Unless he is dealt, for the time being it looks like one of those spots belongs to J.A Happ. After pitching three scoreless innings with Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Tuesday, Happ was abruptly pulled from his start vs. Indianapolis. In his postgame press conference, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said that Happ “will be helping us”. Can’t be too sure what is meant by that, especially when it is said by the Good Ole’ Southern Boy himself, but for the sake of the post, the likelihood of Happ being on a plane to St. Louis as the Phillies potential starter on Saturday night against Colorado is high.
The second spot, well, that’s not so clear. By process of elimination (No Moyer, No Kendrick, No Carpenter), that spot belongs to..VANCE WORLEY. Not really a household name, so if you don’t know him, that’s okay, you can keep your fan card. With a 9-3 record at Reading this year, Worley being added to the big league roster instead of one of the stockpile of pitchers at Lehigh Valley completes the unusual move of promoting a Double-A pitcher straight to the majors for his big league debut.
Unusual, yes it was, but it does happen. Unfortunately for Worley, it may not get that far.
When Moyer went down with a “strained” left elbow around 8:45 P.M ET Tuesday, that was most likely the cue for GM Ruben Amaro to get on the phone and begin to take the steps on pulling the trigger on a deal to obtain a top-notch starting pitcher that has been speculated about for the past two months. And low and behold, by the end of the night, talks with the Houston Astros to obtain ace SP Roy Oswalt were considered “hot and heavy” by multiple sources, including ESPN Baseball Insider Jayson Stark and FOX Sports Baseball Columnist Ken Rosenthal.
So is Oswalt to the Phillies a done deal?
Probably not, there are multiple obstacles.
The biggest one: Oswalt demanding that his potential new home pick up his $16 million option for 2012 is probably the biggest one. When all is said and done, that could be too steep of a price for the Phillies who will also have Joe Blanton ($8.5 Mil in 2012) under contract and will most likely try to resign Cole Hamels after a 2011 season where he will be making $9.5 million.
That’s a lot of money to be invested in three arms that are not relatively fresh by MLB standards.
Plus, it’s not like money grows on trees. Well, unless you are the New York Yankees..
Also, Ruben Amaro and company seem to have a contingency plan if the Oswalt deal falls by the wayside. The Phillies are reportedly in talks with multiple teams about acquiring Arizona’s Dan Haren, Oakland’s Ben Sheets, or Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie. Truth be told, a deal for any of these pitchers might be more attractive than Oswalt at the end of the day because of a lower asking price and cap-friendly contracts.
With all that has been speculated recently (players at the four main levels of organization have been mentioned) on what the Phillies would have to give up, it’s almost impossible to predict who could be in the deal when a deal is done (and it will be done). However, what we do know is that it is going to take a collection of players, most likely three or four in total, and lastly, another team (Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox have been said to be interested) to help facilitate a trade that would bring Roy Oswalt (or Dan Haren) and prospects to Philadelphia. All things considered, I still think they are leaning towards that kind of blockbuster deal rather than a one-year rental on Sheets, Guthrie, or Jake Westbrook.
With that said, here’s the breakdown of who has been mentioned and how they factor into a possible trade for a top-notch starter.
WHAT THE PHILLIES WILL MOST LIKELY HAVE TO GIVE UP
Possibly 1 Everyday Big Leaguer: Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez
1 or 2 Guys who are MLB Ready (or close): J.A Happ, Kyle Kendrick, Scott Mathieson, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Zagurski, Drew Carpenter, John Mayberry Jr., Joe Savery, Vance Worley
1 Top Prospect: Jared Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Brody Colvin, Anthony Gose, Phillipe Aumont, Matthew Way
One of the players who is noticeably absent from that breakdown is Domonic Brown. The rationale there is if the Phillies didn’t include him for deals to obtain Cliff Lee or Roy Halladay, then they won’t include him on a deal for any of these available pitchers, especially since his stock has only grown since Philadelphia pulled off a their last blockbuster this offseason.
Now, it’s quite possible that Brown will be moved. Not denying that. However, I’m going to go out there on a limb and say that it will be restricted to just the Phillies clubhouse, where he will prepare to make his big league debut for the organization that has brought him up through the ranks over the last three years.
Even with this estimate though, and the Brown prediction, so many others are fair game. There are 100+ players within the Phillies organization, and maybe 10 have the “untouchable” label that is so difficult to attain.
Then again, Phillies prospect Kyle Drabek was considered “untouchable” this time last year.
And look what happened to him.
Updates will be given throughout the night..
6:30 PM WED: As reported by Phillies MLB.COM Beat Writer Todd Zolecki, Vance Worley was added as an extra long-reliever, much like Drew Carpenter’s recent 24-hour role with the Phillies. Philadelphia now has FOUR starters (Halladay, Hamels, Blanton, and Happ when he’s added) on their roster. No starter announced for Saturday yet, which was Kendrick’s spot.
11:45 PM WED: Phillies scouts are apparently present for Dan Haren’s start tonight. Not surprising, since CSN’s Jim Salisbury believes the Phillies may stick with what they have in terms if pitching if they can’t get Haren or Roy Oswalt. I still think they get one of the two mentioned, but if that is impossible, there is NO WAY they stand pat. In fact, I’m going to go further. Here are two other names who have popped up in trade rumors because of their alleged availability. Cleveland’s Fausto Carmona and Arizona’s Edwin Jackson.