Posts Tagged ‘San Francisco Giants

27
Jul
11

PHILLIES: My Phillies Trade Proposal

Needed to bring the “Philly Phour” back one last time to voice my opinions on a potential Phillies deal that can’t be summed up on Twitter in 140 characters and is way too creepy to leave on facebook as a status or note.

As most of you have heard, the Phillies have been in the market for a right-handed bat, preferably an outfielder,  since the 2o11 season began. Now, as Carlos Beltran, one of the rumored targets for the Phillies, has been traded to the defending World Series champs, it’s time to stop messing around if you are Ruben Amaro.

If you are the Phillies brass, and you are very serious about acquiring a strong RH bat and an outfielder who you can plug in the middle of your order, cut the crap and DO IT NOW.

Yes, I am well aware that Astros OF Hunter Pence and White Sox OF Carlos Quentin have been said to be off the market, or if you can pry them away from their current teams, you may have to give up an arm and a leg to get them. However, if Dominic Brown (top prospect on all of baseball who is part of the future and the present) isn’t involved, there is no reason why the Phillies shouldn’t try to do this.

Here is what I propose: P Vance Worley (middle of the rotation, pro-ready pitcher) , 1B Jonathan Singleton (top offensive prospect) , OF John Mayberry Jr. (big league, 25-man roster ready outfielder)

And here is my reasoning.

Worley: I know, I know. He’s been the biggest surprise for the Phillies so far this year. Making up for the absence of Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton by going 7-2 with a sub 3.00 ERA and stabilizing the back end of the rotation in the process. Might be the future of the Phillies pitching staff. But look at it this way. The Phillies are ultimately thinking about making a deal like this to succeed in the playoffs against the likes of the Giants, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, etc and make it to another World Series. Who would you rather on your team to help do that? As much as I like Vance Worley (and I do like him), it’s not him. Even if Worley continues to pitch this well or better, AT BEST, he makes the Phillies postseason roster as no better than the teams 4th starter. That means he likely doesn’t pitch in a starting role in the NLDS, and just one game in the NLCS or WS if you want to look that far ahead. No more than 18 innings pitched at most, and if Roy Oswalt comes off the D.L and bounces back well, it will be far fewer than that. So personally, as much as I appreciate Worley’s role on the team, I still would rather have an all-star OF in Pence or Quentin that would start virtually every single game than someone who may have a limited impact in the postseason based on the talent ahead of him and if the right people decide to get healthy.

Singleton: Best pure hitting prospect that the Phillies have and a preseason top 100 prospect in baseball. He is also the Phillies most expendable top prospect based on the depth they have in the organization. Even as a 20-year-old, the Phillies organization has already seemed to give up on an outfield experiment for Singleton, meaning he is only set to play one other position. First base. Well, if I remember correctly, Philadelphia has a guy in Ryan Howard who both talent wise and financially, is slated to play at that corner infield spot for the next half a decade. Again, I understand that the Phillies like what they see in Singleton and he may be the future of the position, but with the Big Piece in his way, you cannot overvalue a player too much if he is at least 4+ years away from making an impact at the big league level with the organization.

Mayberry: Really like what Mayberry has done this year. Can play all three OF position, and shown the ability to hit a little. Very attractive quality for a rebuilding team or a team decimated by injuries. But, in a deal to obtain a player like him who is just simply better at playing the game of baseball, I’m sorry, but John Mayberry Jr. is expendable. As well as he has been playing this year and as much as he has been improving, he will NEVER be better than Hunter Pence and Carlos Quentin. His ceiling is just not that high. It’s as simple as that.

So that’s my proposal. Worley, Singleton, Mayberry. If the Phillies can get either one of Hunter Pence and Carlos Quentin, as I said, they should just do the damn thing.

For those who say that you are ruining future of the organization, here is rebuttal. Screw the future. Seriously, screw it.  I don’t know if you have paid close attention to the last three years of trades for the Philadelphia Phillies, but it has become pretty clear that the FUTURE IS NOW. When you trade 7 of your top 15 prospects over a 2 1/2 year span, and the vast majority of the nucleus of your team is over the age of 3o, the window of opportunity to reach the ultimate goal of a World Series and parade down Broad St. is closing with ever time there is mention the word future . If there is too much thought going towards future success and World Series titles, than in my opinion, especially considering the makeup of this team, the future will never become the present.

With this team, playing 162 regular season games and the hope of playing postseason baseball is done for one reason. It’s not to be just competitive year in and year out. It’s to win World Series titles. Plain and simple.

With this blow-you-out-of-the-water proposed deal, as much as the Phillies would be giving up with their future things of that nature, their chances for winning a Fall Classic will have improved.

And that’s good enough reason to do this deal.

14
Feb
11

PHILLIES: A Preview Before the Preview

As pitchers and catchers have made their way down to Clearwater and the friendly confines of Brighthouse Field, most who care about such a movement would also take that as a sign that the 2011 baseball season is finally starting to take form.

From the perspective of a certain baseball enthusiast/blogger, there isn’t much in the way of news that could be considered more of a breath of fresh air.

In fact, that could probably the best news in, give or take, three months and 13 days.

For those who are wondering and are too lazy to do some simple math or a google search, that was when the 2010 Baseball campaign officially ended as the San Francisco Giants were crowned as World Series champs.

With that said, a Spring Training preview will be up shortly, breaking down everything from..

Beautiful sight, isn't it?

1. Is Joe Blanton going to remain in the fold as the Phillies 5th starter behind R2C2?

2. Will Dominic Brown be able to beat out Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. for the everyday RF job?

3. How will the bullpen shape up without Chad Durbin?

4. Expectations, expectations, and more expectations..

5. Everything else.

Such a breakdown, however, will all come over the span of some six odd weeks before the Phillies take the field against the Houston Astros on April 1st.

In the mean time, if you want to take a look at a couple blogs that will have Spring Training coverage to a capacity much larger than this particular college senior who is roughly 700 miles from any Grapefruit League action whatsoever, a combination of Todd Zolecki’s “ZoZone“, David Murphy’s “High Cheese“, and Matt Gelb and Bob Brookover’s “Phillies Zone” should do the trick.

With that, enjoy the arrival of baseball season.

14
Dec
10

PHILLIES: The Return of the Cliff Lee Saga..

Before I start, I just want to let you all know this is not a repost of something I have previously written.  In fact, this is more of a during finals procrastination tool that further shows me that baseball news takes precedent over any dedication to my academics that I might have at this time.

But for good reason.

Under some pretty, well, unforseen circumstances, the bidding war that is the free agency process of Cliff Lee has become quite a wild ride. Since free agency started a week after the San Francisco Giants won the 2010 World Series, there has been plenty of speculation on where the most heralded free agent in recent memory may go. That speculation, as of early Sunday evening, has reached an all-time high.

Here is where it currently stands.

RANGERS: First, it was Texas. Much like he was in Philadelphia, Lee had just been an integral part of a historic run in franchise history, a run that ended without a ring after a trip to the World Series. Viewed as somewhat as a savior to the the Rangers after a midseason deal sent him to Arlington last July, many people in baseball circles thought if the Nolan Ryan led organization were willing to give him a contract with enough years (7+) to allow him to raise his family Texas, he would stay.  As it stands now, the years are not the issue. The Rangers brass eliminated that part of the equasion by offering him that duration in their formal contract offer. The issue is, does Lee want to be the face of a franchise for the rest of his career that may not have enough depth within the farm system, enough talent on the big league roster, and most importantly to compete with the traditional powerhouses of the AL for a pennant year in and year out. Remember, for all the accolades Cliff Lee has, a World Series ring is not one of them. Yet.

Where will Cliff Lee call his new home?

 

YANKEES: Yes, I know it’s a shocker that the Yankees are involved in the process of trying to sign a highly priced free agent, but try to contain yourselves. While there is plenty of the negative that is associated with playing baseball in the Bronx, you can not deny the positives of wearing the uniform with the most famed pinstripes in all of sports. First, there is a little something called money. As shown in years past, the Steinbrenner led front office is willing and ready to outbid any team, in both years and actual money per year, for Lee’s services. For a player who is approaching his last opportunity for a maximum contract, there is not much more security for a guy of his age with his resume can ask for.  In addition to the dollar signs, what comes along with the fame of fortune of playing for the Yankees is the opportunity to compete in the postseason virtually every year. Now I know Lee enjoys beating the Yankees in that spotlight, but for a guy who spent a good majority of his professional career playing for rather unsuccessful franchises such as the Montreal Expos and the Cleveland Indians, the lure of playing for a team that will literally buy him a championship has to be somewhat attractive. Well, at least more attractive than moving to New York, a city that has caused the Lee family their own headaches when they verbally harassed the wife and kids last year. Don’t be surprised if that’s one of the main deciding factors that pulls him away from the bright lights of New York City. Besides If Lee was going to sign with the Yankees, the team clearly willing to offer the most lucrative contract, don’t you think he would have signed the dotted line already?

PHILLIES: And last but not least, the reason I am even taking the time to even write this. As of late Sunday night, the  “mystery team” that has rumored to be lurking around during these sweepstakes is in fact the Phillies. As most you know from following baseball for the past 2 years or reading this blog for the same amount of time, there is a prior relationship between Cliff Lee and the Philadelphia Phillies organization. Summed up quickly, the Phillies traded for Lee at the trade deadline during the 2009 season. He then sparked a run, especially in the postseason, that left the Philadelphia two wins away from winning their second consecutive World Series title. After all was said and done, the Ruben Amaro and company then returned the favor by trading him to the Seattle Mariners in fear that he wouldn’t sign a long term deal and wouldn’t be able to co-exist with a newly acquired player named Roy Halladay. With that, it is quite understandable that Cliff Lee may still harbor some anger and resentment towards the Phillies organization. This is a business though, and from a business and a baseball standpoint, Lee seems to be considering the Phillies once again.

Why?

The combination of a successful and competitive franchise along with a sports town that he is beloved by if he would decide to step into the home clubhouse of Citizens Bank Park for at least 81 times a season has to be the main factor. However, will that along with a sense of selflessness that is so rare among professional athletes these days make up for the lack of money (20 mil a year) and guaranteed years (3 or 4 years) he’d be able to get from the Phillies in contrast to his offers from the Rangers, Yankees, or any other mystery teams out there.

Oh do I sure as hell hope so..

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UPDATE (12:10 AM)

So I guess miracles do happen.

According to Jon Heyman of SI.com has reported that Cliff Lee will spurn both the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees for a second tour of duty with the Philadelphia Phillies.

More to come when this becomes official.

04
Nov
10

PHILLIES: Off-Season Questions

By now, you know the grim reality.

The Phillies we unable to make it to their 3rd straight Fall Classic. They were outplayed and beaten by a group of castoffs that compromised the San Francisco Giants roster, a team that eventually won the World Series against the Texas Rangers.

To sum up these chain of events, it’s actually quite easy. The Phillies did not deserve to have a chance to win there second World Series in 3 years. In addition to out-performing the undisputed most talented team in the National League, the most surprising element of the series was that the Giants were clearly more motivated than the Phillies.

What does the future hold for the Philadelphia Phillies?

It was almost like you were watching the 2008 Phillies when you saw the Giants and how they performed on the field. Opportunistic, clutch, always able to come up with the big play, manufacture that one run, or come up with that big pitch, a team who had not been to a World Series in eight years dismantled a Phillies team who was expected to roll to the World Series based on their overall talent and experience. In terms of comparing this Giants team to the ’08 Philadelphia team that won the title, their NLCS run was awfully remnicent, in regards to their play and their approach, to how the Phillies took apart the heavily favored Dodgers in 2008.

Well that, and both teams had one common link that helped carry them to victory.

The one, the only, Pat Burrell (and his .143 BA this postseason).

All jokes aside, while it still irks me that Burrell and Cody Ross (who was on the Marlins of all teams three months ago) are celebrating a World Series title while the city of Philadelphia is not, the show must go on.

The show, in this case, is the off-season.

Here are 3 questions the Phillies need to answer before Spring Training starts.

1. Will Jayson Werth be the starting RF for the Phillies on opening day?

Is Werth worth it? In this case, if his rumored asking price for a long-term deal is true (15-18 mil a year for 4-5 years), I am inclined to say no. I think the Phillies will echo that as well, especially with Domonic Brown, the #1 overall prospect in all of baseball in 2010, waiting in the wings. With letting Werth go, and implementing Brown as the starting RF imposes a clear lineup imbalance (over-abundance of LH hitters), a possible platoon for a year with Brown and another RH hitter (Ben Francisco, John Mayberry Jr., or a FA) seems to be economical move, and in my opinion, the right one. Unless Werth is willing to take a paycut (11-13 mil a year over 3-4 years), the most popular player (at least according to the female demographic) on the Phillies will no longer be able to call his home Philadelphia come the 2011 season.

2. Which members of the 2010 roster will no longer a member of the club come 2011?

If Werth goes, who else will join him? Just a couple days into the off-season, we likely know a couple of those names. The Phillies front office decided against exercizing the contract options SP Jamie Moyer, LHP J.C Romero, and UTIL Greg Dobbs, while the contract of 1B coach Davey Lopes was not renewed. With Lopes gone,  Moyer  likely headed towards the retirement home, and Dobbs to the minors,  the only one who even has a chance to come back is Romero, who would have to take at least a 50% paycut and and accept a 1-year deal. Don’t really see Romero as one who would make many concessions when it comes to something like that.

Outside of Romero, Moyer and Lopes, there are only a couple Phillies who are not locked up in long-term deals they could hit the highway. For all those that think SS Jimmy Rollins and OF Raul Ibanez may be on their way out, don’t. That’s not going to happen. Well, at least not this year. The starting lineup outside Werth is almost guaranteed to remain the same. The bench, predicting that the contracts of INF Wilson Valdez, 1B Mike Sweeney and 1B/OF Ross Gload will be renewed, should stay the same as well (although I think they will add an outfielder who specializes in hitting LHP pitching). As of right now, the pitching staff is where the most turnover could be. While the starting rotation seems to be set outside the 5th starter spot, there are four names that could potentially be on other teams at the start of the season.

RHP Chad Durbin (FA)

RHP Danys Baez (Outright release)

RHP David Herndon (Trade/Outright Release)

SP/RP Kyle Kendrick (Trade)

My prediction on this. Even though Baez under contract, I believe he has the highest chances out of the four of not being on the roster due to an extreme lack of productivity this year. And that’s putting it kindly. Outside of that, I think it’s likely that the Phillies bring back Herndon and Kendrick because they are as both under contract as well, and if Durbin is willing to take a one year deal, he should be back as well.

3. Are the Phillies to old?

If the Phillies playoff roster happens to be the 2011 opening day roster, with Brown supplanting Werth and the addition of John Mayberry Jr. as a utility OF who hits right-handed, they will still only have seven players (out of 25) under the age of 30. That will make them the undisputed oldest team in baseball. Now with that, they aren’t THAT old.  There are 3 players who will be 30, and Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins will all be 32 years of age or under, which means that they should be still within the prime of their respective careers.

The point I’m trying to make is that while the Phillies aren’t a kernel of puppies by any stretch of the imagination, they aren’t a softball team at an old age home either. With the way the contracts lay out though, there are not many ways they will get any younger throughout the season. A large majority of the current big league team is, as I said before, under contract, and even if the organization wants to get younger, the Phillies traded away a good majority of their pro-ready prospects in deals to acquire Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt in the past year and a half.

So to answer this question, I don’t think the Phillies are too old right now, but it’s also clear that they aren’t in any position to get any younger.

As long as they win, age won’t be an issue.

14
Oct
10

PHILLIES: 2010 NLCS Preview

As we all anxiously await the time early Sat. evening when arguably one of the best and most-anticipated playoff pitching matchups in post-season history will become a reality, it’s finally starting to set in that the Phillies have made their third consecutive National League Championship  Series with relative ease.

While it’s undeniable that the Reds didn’t hit, pitch, and especially field to the best of their ability, it was very clear who was the better team in that series, whether it play on the field or demeanor in the dugout or clubhouse. You don’t have to be a Phillies fan to realize that.

On the other side, the San Francisco Giants will come into their first NLCS since the Barry Bonds era in a similar fashion. In their 4-game series win against the Atlanta Braves, they out-performed an admirable opponent with dominating starting pitching, and while their hitting weren’t necessarily strong, the bats did capitalize when the opportunity presented itself (countless errors by a certain Braves second basemen) to put the series out of reach.

Hmmm, sounds awfully familiar.

With that said, here is the breakdown of the series between the Phillies and Giants.

SCHEDULE WITH STARTING PITCHING PROBABLES

GAME 1 (7:57 PM SATURDAY): Giants ( Tim Lincecum) at Phillies (Roy Halladay)

GAME 2 (8:19 PM SUNDAY): Giants (Jonathan Sanchez) at Phillies (Roy Oswalt)

GAME 3 (4:19 PM TUESDAY): Phillies (Cole Hamels) at Giants (Matt Cain)

GAME 4 (7:57 PM WEDNESDAY): Phillies (Joe Blanton) at Giants (Madison Bumgardner)

GAME 5 (7:57 PM THURSDAY if needed): Phillies (Roy Halladay) at Giants (Tim Lincecum)

GAME 6 (3:57 or 7:57 PM OCTOBER 23RD if needed): Giants (Jonathan Sanchez) at Phillies (Roy Oswalt)

GAME 7: (7:57 PM OCTOBER 24TH if needed: Giants (TBD) at Phillies (TBD)

STARTING PITCHING

The men on the mound will dictate the future of both teams of this series. On one side, you have the tandem now known as H20, along with a bullpen that looks to be reverting back to their ’08 form. On the other side, you have a 2-time Cy Young award winning pitcher, and 3 other bright young arms to fill out the rotation. Even Barry Zito, a past Cy Young award winner in his own right, couldn’t make the post-season roster. So, which side will win out?  Personally, I would have to go with the team who has a certain pitcher who has both a perfect game and a no-hitter under his belt this year. That’s just me.

ADVANTAGE: PHILLIES

BULLPEN

This one is a little tough. The Phillies bullpen, which for the most part has been considered their achilles heal for the entire season, has woken up as of late. A huge part of that is because of closer Brad Lidge, who had a blast from the past type of performance in the final two months of the season, only blowing one save in the 2 1/2 months of play after the all-star break. In addition to that, they also seemed to find some stability in terms of left-handed pitching out the bullpen, as both Antonio Bastardo and J.C Romero had a stellar final month or so. However, even though it may not have shown in their NLDS series against the Braves, the Giants, led by their perennial all-star of a closer Brian Wilson, may be the most consistent bullpen from top to bottom remaining out of the playoff teams.

ADVANTAGE: GIANTS

HITTING

Not even a question here. While Giants do have certain veterans on their team who are used to playoff competition (Juan Uribe, Aaron Rowand, and Edgar Renteria), they struggled mightily as a team at the plate during the Braves series and for that matter the entire season, even with the probable NL ROY Buster Posey, and a re-surging Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff in the lineup. Compare that to a Phillies lineup who, while still struggling a bit in their own right, was amongst the top offenses in all of baseball this year, and clearly is still the more explosive, experienced, and without question better offense in this matchup.

ADVANTAGE: PHILLIES

INTANGIBLES

Both teams are well-managed. Both teams have players on their team who have been in this type of playoff atmosphere before. So, what separating them? The Phillies are returning to the NLCS for the third consecutive year, while the Giants have long been on vacation during that time. In the two previous years, we all know the end result with the Phillies. Now, back in the same spot, with arguably their most talented team when comparing them to the prior two, I just don’t see that end result changing.

ADVANTAGE: PHILLIES

PREDICTION: Phillies in 6

17
Aug
10

PHILLIES: The Final Push

With Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both speculated to return to within the next week, or via some reports even as early as Tuesday, it looks like the Phillies will finally have their full arsenal of weapons available to them for one of the only times all season sooner rather than later.

Perfect timing.

As of Monday morning, a off-day away from returning home for a four-game series with the San Francisco Giants, the Phillies are just two games behind the Atlanta Braves for the NL East lead, and are all knotted up for the NL wildcard berth with, go figure, the San Francisco Giants.

Needless to say, it would be very beneficial for a former MVP and one of the best middle-infielders in the game to return to a Phillies team that is still is looking to be the first club in over a half a century to represent the National League in the World Series three consecutive years in a row.

When Utley and Howard return to action though, they will join a team who is arguably playing their best baseball of the season, something that has been done without their usual contribution.

Don’t get me wrong; getting them back in their normal spots in the middle of the Phillies order and right side of the infield will only HELP this team. No one in his or her right mind with any credibility in the baseball world (not saying that I have any either) can deny that.

However, with Howard and Utley being activated to the active roster comes a move that will take away a big-league job two players who have made positive contributions to this team in the absence of the two superstars.

So, who will be moved to make room for Utley and Howard?

At this point of the season, especially with the addition of Mike Sweeney, consistency issues to the bullpen, and an influx of talent in the outfield, this will be a  very difficult decision for Charlie Manuel and company to make.

Just looking at the roster, it appears that a likely candidate for designation on the surface, Wilson Valdez, will stay this time around. Valdez, who has already been placed on waivers and designated for assignment on two separate occasions this year, is the now the only utility infielder on this roster (Juan Castro was released in late July). With Utley returning just 8 weeks removed from major surgery, and a questionable health status of both Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco, Valdez’s worth to this team is obvious when you acknowledge that he is a guy who can play those three positions (2B, SS, 3B) at a above-average level defensively in comparison to his big league counterparts.

If you think that’s farfetched, just look at his defensive stats.

For those who are most likely on the way out, one guy who sticks out right now is Domonic Brown.

If Domonic Brown is sent back down to the minors, it will only be a temporary move.

Yes, I said it before; it is possible that the decision to send him back to Triple-A will stunt his growth to becoming a formidable big-leaguer.

It still might.

But, with the rosters able to expand in just under two weeks (September 1st), sending Brown back for that duration of time to get everyday at-bats should be viewed and compared to a rehab stint rather than a demotion. If it were two months instead of two weeks I would think differently, but there is no question Brown, if sent back down now, will be back with the big league club at the end of the month.  Plus, Brown is one of the few players on the Phillies active roster that does not require to be placed on the waiver wire if he is involved in a move (has not been moved before and was already a member of the 40-man roster prior to the season). So, in this case, sending him back down without any roster consequences is undoubtedly a better move than designating a veteran player for assignment and losing him to a potential contender who has extra room on their roster.

Losing a talent like Brown for two weeks and possibly slightly delaying his transformation into a star is just a small price to pay at this point of the season, especially when you are chasing teams for a playoff berth instead of being chased.

In addition to this move, which will probably be made for whichever player (likely Utley) who makes his return first, a corresponding roster decision will have to be made for the second player (likely Howard) who is activated to the 25-man roster.

To make room for Ryan Howard, Greg Dobbs might be on his way out of Philly.

The latter of these moves is tricky. Again, after taking a gander at the roster, it looks that the Phillies will either have to designate a veteran, likely Greg Dobbs, for assignment and hope that he passes through waivers, or place someone on the disabled list until September 1st, where they can be activated without any corresponding roster move.

With that said, as most of you know, a team can’t place a guy on the disabled list if he, well, not disabled. Major League Baseball mandates a distinct medical process that determines if a player injury qualifies him for the DL, a process that severely limits teams from using this roster-exemption loophole.

However, the Phillies may be able to use this tactic with one of their own without being penalized. Ross Gload, who left last Tuesday’s game with the Dodgers with a groin strain, would be able to be placed on the disabled list without any repercussions due to the fact that he received an MRI that night that showed the extent of the injury that night.

The question is, do you want to risk losing the production Gload, who had been tearing the cover off the ball prior to his injury (9-for-24 in his last 10 games) for 15 days or until September 1st, just to keep a player like Dobbs, who has been ineffective for the majority of the season but has certain appeal to the Phillies and home fans due to his versatility and overall disposition, on board?

Once Chase Utley and Ryan Howard return to action, we have no other choice but to find out.

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UPDATE ( Tuesday 2:50 pm)

According to Anthony Gargano of CBS Radio Philadelphia (610 WIP), Chase Utley has been activated from the disabled list. To make room for him on the 25-man roster, Greg Dobbs was designated for assignment.

An option brought up earlier in the post, this is now the second time he has been designated for assignment this season. For Dobbs, the next step is being placed on waivers, in which he will either be picked up by another team, or if he clears waivers without being picked up, will either be granted his release or most likely accept an assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

For more Utley updates, follow Phillies Beat Writer David Murphy at the ballpark  here.

30
Jul
10

PHILLIES: Reaction to Roy Oswalt

For the second year in a row, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. pulled the trigger on the deal that will most likely define the MLB Trade Deadline.

Last year, it was former Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee who was shipped to Philadelphia, a move that gained national headlines and made the defending World Series champs even more dangerous.

We all know how that worked out.

This year, it is now Roy Oswalt, a perennial ace wasting the last year or so of his prime with the Houston Astros, who will be the next one to “take his talents” to the City of Brotherly Love in an deal to help the Phillies win their 4th consecutive NL East crown.

And what a deal it was..

THE GOOD

There is so much good to talk about regarding this deal that it needs to be split up into two different categories.

WHAT WE GOT

You just have to take a look at Roy Oswalt’s career stats for about five seconds to realize the type of talent the Phillies just added to their pitching rotation. His credentials are astonishing (3 All-Star Games, Top 5 in Cy Young voting 5 different season), and with his 143-82 career record in just over 9 1/2 big league seasons, it’s easy to see why this guy has been considered an ace pitcher for the better part a decade, a distinction that Dan Haren, Fausto Carmona, and other who had been linked to the Phillies have unfortunately never had.

Roy Oswalt is the newest member of the Phillies starting rotation.

While his talent was not a question, Ruben Amaro Jr. also made the Astros address a one of his major areas of concern without involving another team. At 32 years of age, there were clearly some worries among the Phillies brass that they were getting a guy who was on the back end of his prime (which is still at an all-star level) who was being paid like a guy who was in the middle of his prime. That was proven by the Astros paying almost half of his remaining 23 million-dollar salary over the next 1 1/3 years of his contract, an incentive that gives much needed financial support to a team that now has the 4th highest payroll in baseball.

While the Astros will end up the Phillies approximately 11 million dollars for Oswalt to pitch next year and the remaining 50 games this season for the PHILLIES is good enough in itself, it is the combination of obtaining a #1 caliber starter along with that cap relief provided by the Astros organization (Phillies will only pay 12 million to Oswalt over the next 1 1/3 years, a figure that comes out to a reasonable 9.3 mil a year), is what allows all this to look like a home-run (grandslam even) in terms of the value the Phillies got in this trade.

Oh, almost forgot, the Phillies do not have to pick up Oswalt’s 16 million-dollar 2012 option that he and the Astros originally demanded either.

WHAT WE GAVE UP

I’ll be the first one to say it. Phillies fans everywhere should be grateful for what J.A Happ has given to the organization. His 12-4 season last year was pretty tremendous, and considering he was the best pitcher on the struggling staff in 2009 before Cliff Lee showed up, it’s undeniable that he played a huge part in keeping that team afloat when Hamels, Blanton and company were struggling. He really never got the appreciation his was due.

With that said, the fact that he was the centerpiece of this trade (not Domonic Brown, Jayson Werth, or Jonathan Singleton) rivals a blessing from G-D.

Phillies P J.A Happ was sent to Houston as the centerpiece of the Oswalt deal.

While Happ has a certain attraction factor because of the talent he showed as a rookie, relatively young age, and an even cheaper contract, he was truly never viewed as an asset within the Phillies organization. For instance, he wasn’t even the rotation to start the 2009 season, as he was beaten out by Chan Ho Park for the 5th starter slot out of Spring Training. CHAN HO PARK! That alone should indicate the amount of confidence that Amaro and company had with Happ.

All things considered, J.A Happ needed a change of scenery.

The Astros, by giving Happ the dubious honor of being the focal point in this deal, seem to think that he has the makings of being a stud pitcher, possibly even an ace to replace Oswalt. In contrast to this, with the way Happ was treated (especially recently), it’s possible that the Phillies viewed his 2009 year as his eventual “ceiling” or even a possible fluke.

After finishing 3rd in the NL while dealing with added pressure of being involved in the Cliff Lee trade rumors, Happ seemed to have solidified his status in the rotation coming into the new year. That was short-lived though, as a rocky start to the 2010 campaign fueled by a 3-month oblique injury was the driving force which allowed Happ to fall out of favor with management for good. The fall from grace was so drastic that when he was finally healthy enough to pitch, he was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley because of fears that he didn’t have the “stuff” that once made him so effective.

As a fan of Happ but also a Phillies diehard, I hope his career in Houston lies somewhere in between.

For the other two 19-year-old prospects involved in the deal (OF Anthony Gose and SS Jonathan Villar), the Houston Astros better pray that the baseball futures of both these teenagers will pan out. As of right now though, getting this deal done without giving away any of the top three prospects (Brown, Singleton, and P Jared Cosart) or surging pitching prospects such as Vance Worley or Brody Colvin makes it look like Ruben Amaro is getting away with felonious crime.

Or something similar to blackmail of Astros GM Ed Wade.

Don’t get me wrong, both these guys have major talent.

While the Astros won’t have the ex-Phillies and current Astros CF Michael Bourn clone in Gose (a player who stole 78 bases at the minor league level last year) in the fold, they did trade him in a corresponding deal Thursday night to acquire 3B Brett Wallace from Toronto. Wallace, who was ironically involved in a deal last year that sent former Phillies prospect Michael Taylor to Oakland, is a player who should help impact them at the big league level right away, something that could really help Houston build for the future. With Villar, the Astros get a shortstop who is projected to have three above-average MLB tools (Power, Speed, Arm Strength) when all is said and done and his is ready for the bigs.

Overall, you can’t deny that Houston did get some short-term and long-term value.

However, with the leverage Roy Oswalt was once though to have earlier this week, it’s pretty remarkable that Ed Wade could only get the Phillies to give up an OF prospect in Anthony Gose that is AT LEAST three years away from making an impact in the big leagues and the SS prospect in Jonathan Villar that has a dreadful 42 errors in Single-A this season and is not even the top prospect in the Phillies organization at his own position (that honor goes to Double-A Reading SS Freddy Galvis).

Advantage: Phillies

THE BAD

Yes, there is some bad in the trade. Well, bad is maybe the wrong word.

More like, concerned.

On paper, it shows that the Phillies traded a pitcher that was 12-4 last year and two more young prospects in addition to the 10 or so they sent in deals for Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee for a pitcher in Roy Oswalt who has a record of 6-12 this season.

Now, there is no doubt that Oswalt is a better pitcher, than what shows up in the win/loss column. His 3.42 E.RA on the season is a clear indicator of that, and even with getting awful run support by virtue of playing on one of the worst teams in baseball,  he is still among the NL leaders in K’s (13th with 120) while ranking 47th in MLB in IP with 129 (better than NL All-Star Yovanni Gallardo).

But, with Oswalt being in line for single- digit wins and the first losing season (leads MLB in losses with 12) of his career, an obvious question remains.

Can Oswalt prove that he’s still the ace that he once was?

Time will tell.

If he is not, and the chronic back issues that he has and the pressure that comes along with Philadelphia come back to affect Oswalt, then the initial excitement of this deal could go sour very quickly.

THE VERDICT

Anytime that a GM can trade for an all-star star pitcher without having to touch any other parts of his teams big league roster, give up any of his top three prospects, and get 11 million dollars in cash back from the trading partner for good measure, it has to be considered a success.

I understand, if the Phillies kept Cliff Lee, they wouldn’t have had to do this.

Have to face the facts though. GM’s make mistakes too. Ruben Amaro decided not to keep Cliff Lee. In 1997, former Yankees GM George Steinbrenner (RIP) signed an unheard of Japanese pitcher by the name Hideki Irabu to a lucrative 14 million-dollar deal. He had a career 5.15 ERA with the Bronx Bombers, and was one of the biggest busts of the Steinbrenner regime. More recently in 2006, San Francisco Giants GM Brian Sabean inked Barry Zito to a notoriously awful 7 year, 126 million-dollar deal, something that he is still paying for today with Zito unable to produce a winning season in the three years since signing the dotted line. These things happen.

Will this deal help bring the Phillies back to glory?

By dealing Lee, Ruben Amaro thought the Phillies could be the same caliber of team and win with just the pure addition of Roy Halladay. When he realized that his intended goal may not pan out like that, he fessed up to his questionable decision and attempted to make amense for it by making a deal for Oswalt (Lee was out of the question) in an attempt to help save the season.

You can call GM Ruben Amaro many things, expletives even, but with this trade, “stubborn” no longer remains as one of those adjectives.

Can’t look into the past anymore either.

With Oswalt now in the fold, joining NL All-Star Roy Halladay and a surging Cole Hamels, you can now debate that the Phillies have the potential to have the most dominant starting pitching in the NL. While the rotations of the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, and San Francisco Giants may be able to give a pretty good argument in that regard, there is no question that those opposing teams (and other contenders) will view the Phillies, with their improved rotation combined with an already explosive offense lineup, as an even greater overall threat to represent the NL, again, in the Fall Classic.

They have to get in the post-season first.

On a that note,  I’ll set the final scene for you now.

First weekend in October. Phillies have a 3-game series with the Atlanta Braves to end the season. NL East, of course, on the line.

The potential Phillies starters for those games.

“Halladay–Hamels–Oswalt”

That alone tells me enough about this deal. Well done, Ruben.




The Philly Phour

April 2017
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