Wednesday, August 1, 2012

MLB Trade Deadline and the Phillies Fallout (pt.1 of 2)

We'll miss you guys!
The collective thud that was heard all through Philadelphia late yesterday afternoon just after the 4 p.m. MLB trade deadline was deafening, wasn't it? Never in my Phillies-loving life have I witnessed so many people falling off of a bandwagon so quickly.  Gotta admit that it makes me sort of happy because after checking StubHub, it looks like I'll be able to go to a few more games this year than I have during the historic 5-year run that the team has been on.

I'm not saying that the whole city jumped onto the Phillies would-be dynastic coattails because as a lifer, I can tell who has been here before along with me. We're the people who know that despite missing the playoffs for the first time in six seasons, there is still a hell of a lot of important baseball to be played in this city. 

See, once you get over the fact that there will be no Phillies post-season, the real fans begin looking to see what is needed to avoid this same situation in 2013.  We don't sit around moping about the run being over or that it was good while it lasted.  True, the Phillies have a long and winding road of heartbreak, but this current incarnation is a different world entirely and we owe them our faith even if it means we're not watching our team come this October.

Take a long, deep breath.  Exhale. Now, all you wannabe die-hards who only know the previous five winning seasons collect yourselves and lets take a good hard look at what transpired yesterday and what needs to happen to avoid this same mess of a season in 2013:

CF Shane Victorino traded to the Dodgers for RP Josh Lindblom and minor league pitcher Ethan Martin

Pitcher Josh Lindblom
Here is the reality of this deal: the fact that we got anything of value for Victorino is a miracle considering the Phillies weren't going to resign him in the off-season.  That said, Lindblom just turned 25 and in his short major league career has pitched 77.1 innings of relief with 71 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.91. Martin is a 23-year old former first round draft pick who has had some of the luster washed away in recent seasons but the talent is there and he is having a pretty solid 2012: 118 innings pitched, 112 strikeouts and a 3.58 ERA. His problem is control and this season he is averaging 4.7 BB/9IP which is actually DOWN from last year's 6.5 BB/9IP. Martin has only given up 5 home run balls so far this year.

Between the two, the talent is there and if Martin harnesses any of his talent - his top two pitches are his fastball (93 to 95 mph) and a power curve that's been ranked as the best in the Dodgers farm system, so says Baseball America - The Phillies will have two solid pitchers for a player they could still very well have back on their roster next season.

What I mean by that is...should Shane sit around all winter twiddling his thumbs from the lack of teams bidding on his services, the Phillies could swoop in and see if he'd come back on a lesser deal.  At last mention, Victorino stated he was looking for a 5-year deal and considering he is making nearly $10M this season, you're looking at something in the range of a $60 million dollar demand and that is being conservative.  Considering that he turns 32 in November, that is a deal approaching insanity, so who knows. If the stars align and he sits out in the open too long, maybe the Phillies would shoot him a much more reasonable 2 or 3-year offer.

RF Hunter Pence traded to the Giants for OF Nate Schierholtz, minor league C Tommy Joseph and minor league right-hander Seth Rosin

Catcher Tommy Joseph
 I'll admit to being slightly surprised by this trade because I liked Pence and thought he was productive considering what has transpired this season.  But the reality of the situation was that he played a piss poor right-field this year and when Utley and Howard were on the disabled list, Pence took a step back instead of stepping up and being a leader. While not as reckless a swinger as Victorino (or Rollins for that matter) it just isn't great to have so many batters in your lineup looking to constantly swing at balls 3 and 4. Also, going back to last post-season, Hunter was nowhere to be found...hitting a Mendoza-like .211 with no home runs in five games.

Hunter just never lived up to the hype or the cost of players that GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. sent to the Astros to get him on the team.  This trade was done to recoup something (anything) for him as well as enabling the Phils to avoid going to arbitration with Pence in the off-season and getting stuck giving a player a raise who had been nothing but a statistical disappointment.  Note that I said "statistical" disappointment, because if baseball games were won on personality only, Hunter Pence would have gotten us to the World Series single-handedly. 

In OF Nate Schierholtz the Phillies get a 28-year old serviceable outfielder who has a career .270 batting average with occasional pop who doesn't strike out all that much. As a lefty, he'd make a great platoon partner with right-handed slumping outfielder John Mayberry, Jr.

Catching prospect Tommy Joseph is something the Phillies haven't had in ages; a power-hitting catcher.  Playing in A+ ball, the then 20-year old bopped 22 home runs and had 95 RBI in 127 games, batting a solid .270.  This season in AA he has just 8 homers and 38 RBI, but the Eastern League is said to be more of a pitcher-friendly league.  Clearly though, this was an acquisition to place the team in a much more comfortable position than they were to eventually replace the Philly beloved Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz (now 33 years old).

The final piece to this trade is 23-year old Seth Rosin. This kid projects to be a fireball reliever.  in 145 innings he has struck out 161 batters. His control is solid, having walked 48 and giving up 9 home runs.  Currently in the low minors, Rosin could potentially be fast-tracked as he seems to be lagging behind in terms of age/league placement.

So this is who the Phillies lost, what they got for them and a little bit about the new folks.  As mentioned earlier, since this season is more or less finished in terms of post-season competition, I'm happy with who the Phillies acquired.  They all look like solid prospects that project to be potential major leaguers, but there is always the risk that someone won't make just can't be helped. In terms of replacing Victorino and Pence on the 2012 club we've got Schierholtz and this guy right here.

OF Domonic Brown promoted from minors to Phillies, will start the rest of the season

Another thing the above two trades have done was enable the promotion of former wunderkind outfielder Domonic Brown.  Finally, this kid is going to get his fair share of playing time and the whole world will see whether he'll sink or swim.  It is about time too, as his "prospect" moniker was about to switch over to "suspect" considering he'll turn 25 in September.

There is about 1/3 of the season left to play and our Phillies are taking auditions for 2013. Who will still be here when next season begins? What holes do Phillies brass need to fill and who is available?

Check back tomorrow for the answers!

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