Sunday, August 5, 2012

Out With The Old(er), In With The New(er)

            Major League Baseball’s July 31st trade deadline saw two Philadelphia Phillies get shipped out of town.
            Centerfielder Shane Victorino and leftfielder Hunter Pence were both dealt to National League West teams on Tuesday.  Both seemingly the casualties of a huge payroll, and being practically unsignable after this year, Phillies’ general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. decided to deal the outfielders and get something in return while he still could.
            I can understand trading Victorino to the Los Angeles Dodgers.  There was no way the Phils could have given Victorino the contact he was looking for.  Especially with having just signed Hamels to the second-richest pitcher contract of all-time.  Amaro recently said in an interview that Hamels’ contract had nothing to do with it, but I’m not buying it.
            The one I can’t fully understand was Pence’s deal.  I know he was eligible for arbitration and would require about $14M next year, and I know he wasn’t playing up to his potential.  But again, much like my Hamels argument, I ask ‘why unload one of your youngest, most talented players?’
So what Pence is due to make a large amount of money.  Haven’t you been selling out the park every single night for the last three years?  Amaro has shown the ability to fork out the cash when the time calls for it.  Trade or release someone else.
Jimmy Rollins.  Ryan Howard.  Chase Utley.  Roy Halladay.  Placido Polanco.  I suspect all five of those player’s careers will be over within the next three to four years (or close to being over).  Pence just turned 29 in April and would still have a few years left after all those guys are gone.  But in the end it all comes down to Amaro’s philosophy of dealing someone when he feels that he won’t be able to resign them.
In the end I feel like we have to give Amaro the benefit of the doubt.  While Pat Gillick was responsible for the World Series winning team in 2008, and Amaro did have most of the same players the following year, he still got the Phils back to the Fall Classic.  He still got the pieces to set a franchise-record for wins in a season.  He bought when the team was fighting for a ring, and now he is selling when the team is in the basement.  As much as I hated to see those two players go, it’s only good business.
Also making the trip from Philly to LA was Joe Blanton.  The Dodgers claimed Blanton off of waivers on Friday and was sent across the country for either a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Again, this was a move to free up money.
Cliff Lee was also claimed off of waivers by the Dodgers on Friday, but a deal doesn’t seem likely according to reports.  That would sure be a lot of money for LA to take on.  Plus, the Phils have the luxury of getting the exact deal they want or taking Lee back off waivers. 
But enough about the guys who left town.  Let’s take a look at the guys who are joining the organization.
C Tommy Joseph (acquired in the Pence deal): Joseph is a 6-1, 215 pound catcher who just turned 21-years-old.  He was named the Giants’ No. 5 prospect by heading into this year and possesses some serious pop.  Last year at the AA level Joseph connected for 22 homers and drove in 95 runs in 127 games.  He had a respectable .270 average with a nice .471 slugging percentage.  I would think that he figures to be Carlos Ruiz’s replacement whenever the time comes.
P Seth Rosin (acquired in the Pence deal): Rosin is a studly 6-6, 250 at 23-years-old.  Before the trade he had struck out 68 batters in 56.1 innings, albeit it was at the A level.  He had only walked 18 batters in that time and possessed a .228 batting average against.  He was used as a starter (5 GS) and a reliever (34G, 10 SVs) and should only get better with age.
OF Nate Schierholtz (acquired in Pence deal): Schierholtz has been a platoon outfielder for the majority of his career, but will probably see plenty of time in the Phillies’ outfield now.  Schierholtz is a .270 lifetime hitter and had 45 hits in 175 at-bats with the Giants before being traded.  His best year was last year, when he hit .278 with nine homers and 41 RBIs in 115 games.  Not spectacular, but what do you expect to get in return when you are trying to free up money.
P Ethan Martin (acquired in Victorino deal): Martin was the Dodgers’ No. 8 prospect prior to the year and had some pretty impressive numbers before the trade.  Martin boasted an 8-6 record at the AA level with a 3.58 ERA.  His walk to strikeout ratio isn’t great (112:61), but he has only served up five homers in 118 innings.  He has a .214 batting average against, including a .171 average against righties.
RP Josh Lindbolm (acquired in Victorino deal): Lindbolm has been quite respectable in his two years in the majors.  This year he was 2-2 with a 3.02 ERA before being dealt.  He’s given up 42 hits in 47.2 innings, but has 43 strikeouts to go along with those numbers.  Either way, we all know the Phils could use some bullpen help and Lindbolm’s numbers are just as good – if not better – than anyone in the pen right now.

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