Everyone In This Room Is Now Dumber

There are no numbers that exist the breadth of stupidity contained within this Bill Conlin article. I haven’t FJM’ed an article in a while, a great sign actually. But this deserves a fisking.

The bulk of Conlin’s article quotes a friend of Comcast SportsNet’s Michael Barkann who proposes a trade with the Seattle Mariners that swaps Cole Hamels and Jonathan Singleton for Cliff Lee. I’ll give you a second to facepalm. And let’s begin…

WHEN I’M King of the World . . .
Ruben and his Merry Men will do some out-of-the-box thinking to help dig the Phillies’ M*A*S*H Unit out of what could become a midseason grave . . .

The Phillies are five games out of first place behind the Atlanta Braves and two games out of the Wild Card behind the New York Mets. Sure, there have been a lot of injuries and inconsistencies but they can hardly be defined as “a midseason grave”. But leave it to the mainstream media to exaggerate for article fodder.

Overreacting to first-half struggles is also not a great decision.

“Daily News Live” host Michael Barkann passed on the spin of a friend, name withheld, who definitely was thinking outside the box.

Case of writer’s block for Conlin, you think?

“Why does no one talk about trading Cole Hamels in a Cliff Lee deal?”

1. Cliff Lee would be a two-month rental. Although you bolster a lackluster starting rotation, the effect is only felt for one year and it is unlikely that the Phillies would be able to lock up Lee to a long-term contract. Consider that they are uncertain that they can retain Jayson Werth, who will come at a cheaper price than Lee.

2. Cole Hamels is signed to a contract through 2011 and has one more year of arbitration in ’12. As much as the mainstream media and most Phillies fans like to think Hamels is a terrible pitcher, having a player with that kind of cost certainty — especially compared to Lee — is valuable. Hamels is earning $6.65 million this year (essentially paying him as a 1.7 WAR pitcher) and $9.5 million in ’11 (2.4 WAR).

3. When the original Lee rumors were surfacing when he was in Cleveland, they were a team attempting a more drastic rebuilding effort. Their goal was to acquire younger players with high upside. However, a team like the Mariners would be more likely to consider accepting Cole Hamels in a trade as they don’t expect to go into full rebuilding mode.

4. If Cole is apparently so bad as Conlin and others assert, why would the Mariners take him in a trade?

The Roy Halladay-Cole Hamels duo was supposed to give Charlie Manuel a No. 1 and 1A at the top of his rotation.

Steve Slowinski of DRays Bay posted an excellent article yesterday about B.J. Upton and “The Power of Expectations”. Upton, the second overall pick in the first round of the 2002 draft, had one really great season in 2007 and hasn’t measured up since. As a result, he has been viewed as a disappointment despite posting a higher WAR in ’08 (4.6 to 4.2 in ’07), 2.1 WAR last year, and 1.2 WAR already this year.

Slowinski wrote:

In many ways, BJ Upton’s 2007 season was one of the worst things that could happen to him. His .300 average, 24 home run season was fueled by two unsustainable rates – a .393 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) and a 19.8% HR/FB rate. Upton strikes out too much for him to be a .300 hitter; his true-talent level is more in the .240-.260 range. He also isn’t a 20+ home run guy, but more like a 15 home run hitter that will also hit 35 doubles and a handful of triples. He walks a lot, steals lots of bases at a high success rate, and plays above-average defense in center field. He’s not the 5-6 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) monster we were expecting, but instead a 3 WAR player. Is that valuable? That sure as heck is, but it’s tough to see that sometimes when our expectations have blinded us.

Similarly, Hamels’ success in ’08 may have had a negative effect. His success that year, helping the Phillies win their first World Series since 1980, confirmed what many of us believed having watched him progress quickly through the Minors — that he can be a legitimate ace pitcher in the Majors on a consistent basis. What most people didn’t see was how unsustainable that level of success was as it was based on a .270 BABIP. Realistically, the expectations for Hamels should have been centered around an ERA in the 3.50 to 4.00 range which is still pretty good. Instead, Hamels was expected to have an ERA in the high 2’s to low 3’s and those expectations simply are not going to be met.

That Hamels hasn’t lived up to his billing is not his fault but the mainstream media’s (and the general fan base). They built him up and now they are tearing him down.

There is a reason for the ongoing wave of fan outrage at the Cliff Lee deal, which looks more and more pointless and arbitrary with each passing day.

I realize that it’s frustrating given the many ways this team has appeared to come up short this season while Cliff Lee has been making short work of American League hitters, but the Lee deal cannot be properly analyzed for at least a couple more years. People tend to look at trades in a vacuum in terms of “Who did we get?” and “Who did we give up?” But it’s not that simple.

The primary reason Lee was traded was to restock a barren farm system after trading for Roy Halladay. Don’t forget that the Phillies gave up Jason Donald, Lou Marson, Carlos Carrasco, and Jason Knapp to acquire Lee. While they haven’t amounted to much so far, they were still a bulk of the Phillies’ top prospects. Then add in that Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis d’Arnaud were relinquished for Halladay. They were all in the Phillies’ top-10 prospect list according to Baseball America.

While Phillippe Aumont hasn’t had a great season so far, he still has promise as does Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez. Give them more than a half-season to prove themselves before jumping ship.

Additionally, Lee was traded because the Phillies felt they could get more out of him in a trade than they could in recouping two compensatory picks following a rejected arbitration offer after the 2010 season. The players acquired are more Major League-ready, obviously, than comp draft picks.

If the Lee trade is “pointless and arbitrary” you’re not looking at the details hard enough.

If the suits calling the shots had even rented Lee for 2010, Manuel would have had two No. 1s and a No. 1A. Nobody in baseball has that.

But what of 2011 and beyond? Focusing on one year is completely understandable if you’re a fan but at least be realistic. I, too, would have enjoyed a rotation of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee and they would likely have been World Series favorites from the start, but you can’t put all your eggs in one basket, especially if you’re the GM of the team.

I don’t defend Ruben Amaro too much but I will defend him for the Lee trade.

So, what about Halladay and Lee without Hamels (6-7, 4.05), who is having another pedestrian season and falling short of being a No. 2, let alone a 1A.

Again, not his fault. And he has actually pitched quite well as his 3.48 SIERA indicates (15th-best in baseball, 8th best in the National League). He’s averaging nearly a strikeout per inning and he’s a hair over three walks per nine. A 3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio isn’t quite at Halladay or Lee levels, but it’s quite good nonetheless.

Once again this year, Hamels has been victimized by bad luck. He has a slightly higher-than-normal BABIP at .309 but he has been really unlucky on fly balls turning into home runs (16.1%).

However, he does deserve some blame for his struggles. I can’t understand why he has been using his change-up so infrequently. It has accounted for fewer than one out of every four of his pitches compared to nearly one out of every three in previous years. Over the course of a game in which he throws 100 pitches, that’s a difference of 8 change-ups. Essentially, he has swapped out eight uses of his best pitches for inferior pitches, never a good sign.

Barkann’s friend explains:

“Hamels would be perfect in Seattle. They would have 1 1/2 years to sign him long-term. He would be back on the West Coast with zero pressure . . . and he can go 17-12 every year for Seattle making $12 million a season.”

There’s no way Hamels makes $12 million in 2013 and beyond. He’ll earn nearly $10 million next year and he will get a raise in his final year of arbitration in ’12. He obviously wouldn’t be giving any hometown discounts, so it is more likely that Hamels makes $15-16 million annually when he signs his next multi-year contract.

At that point, Barkann’s friend flies into a Fantasy League froth of moves that brings back Cliff Lee and his off-the-charts numbers for Hamels and Low Class A teenage first-base phenom Jonathan Singleton.

There may be some general managers in baseball who will overvalue one really good half-season at Single-A but not too many and I certainly doubt that Jack Zduriencik will. The Phillies haven’t been loud about the value of their prospects (despite trading them for significant value). The New York Mets and New York Yankees (notice any similarities?) have done well in recent years in generating hype for otherwise mediocre prospects.

It would take more than Hamels and Singleton to outbid several other teams for Lee’s services. And, frankly, if I’m the Mariners, I don’t trade Lee for anything less than Domonic Brown.

Then Ruben wraps up Jayson Werth “for 4 or 5 years at $13 million per season.”

Fans love to throw other people’s money around, don’t they? Here’s the Phillies’ payroll for the next few years. Notice at the bottom of 2011 it says $134.7 million. And notice how many players have salaries filled in that column (17). They have five arbitration-eligible players (Dobbs will likely be the only player not given an offer). How do you add $13 million and still round out the roster? Factor in that the Major League minimum salary is $400,000 and the young players used this year will be given slight pay raises. Factor in that more than 25 players will be utilized throughout the season. Factor in that the Phillies may want flexibility to make an in-season trade.

For the Phillies to re-sign Werth, one of two things needs to happen: Werth would need to accept a heavily back-loaded extension, or the Phillies would need to unload a lot of salary. Raul Ibanez is the obvious target, but the market is not exactly ripe for 38-year-olds owed $12 million after slugging under .400 (his SLG currently sits at .393).

Shane Victorino is traded in the winter and there is a flurry of moves and contracts aimed at tightening up the bullpen.

If you’re going to play GM, be specific. What is Victorino’s market? What does this market have to offer?

Which relievers will be available to aim these contracts at?

It’s fine to make these vague statements in a bar conversation or an IM chat, but to put this to press for mass public consumption? This is totally irresponsible.

And what about Lee’s deal? “Lee will cost $18-20 million for 4 or 5 years.” OK, stop the movie right there. Ruben Amaro was instructed to draw a line in the sand. No deals for a starting pitcher longer than 3 years. Lee was offered the same length and terms as those accepted by Halladay. Before Lee could make a counteroffer, he was a Seattle Mariner. And in shock.

So… is Conlin refuting Barkann’s friend’s contract assumption? It’s not clear. At any rate, Barkann’s friend wants the Phillies to add $13 million annually and Lee at $20 million annually, so the Phillies are adding $33 million in payroll for just two players. That would balloon their 2011 total to nearly $170 million. Apparently, the Phillies are playing with Monopoly money.

There was an interesting observation at the end of all the proposed wheeling and dealing.

“I am still convinced that the Phillies ‘parked’ Lee in Seattle and with [Pat] Gillick’s relationship to the Mariners, Amaro will get a right-of-first refusal on trade offers thrown at Seattle.” Pat does have a history of maintaining cordial relations with the first three ballclubs he successfully served as general manager. That said, I don’t see Cliff Lee ever wearing a Phillies uniform again.

Because nothing says “facts” like “I am still convinced”. There is absolutely no evidence given for this claim besides the circumstances of Gillick’s ties to Seattle. Apparently, this guy is saying that Gillick intentionally took an inferior package from Seattle just to put him there, where he and his suave ways could talk the Mariners into taking an inferior package from the Phillies in another trade. The Mariners’ front office is made up of masochists, didn’t you get that memo?

Finally, at the end, Barkann’s friend lets us know that the whole exercise was a waste of time. More importantly, though, it shows us exactly why 99.99% of fans would make absolutely awful general managers. And it shows us that Bill Conlin is mailing it in a weekly basis (or however often he musters up the energy to pen a column).

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25 comments

  1. Richard

    July 07, 2010 12:34 PM

    I’m impressed you made it through that thing.

    But speaking of dumb…

    it seems to have become conventional wisdom that the Blanton deal was another of Amaro’s bad moves–people seem to have no grasp of anything related to why players are valuable.. The Blanton deal was a good one. Sure, it might not work out (that is, he may underperform), but that doesn’t make it bad at the time. I don’t think Blanton has been handled well by Manuel this year, so his results look really bad. On the other hand, only recently has he started striking batters out again, which of course was a major component of his value. (As was pitching a lot of innings, of course, but on that front, it may be that, given his injury, this year was never going to be quite as good. But he’s still young.)

    Regarding Hamels. You mention his poor luck on his HR/FB%, but then mention his decreased use of his changeup. I’ve been a bit confused about how HRs can be a component of the game that pitchers control, but that HR/FB% is a matter of luck. I see Hamels making poor decisions on 2-strike pitches–hitters who need to swing, then get pitches too good to hit. I don’t if the changeup would help here or not…. my guess is yes.

    For me the bad Amaro deals are as follows:
    Baez
    Ibanez
    Howard (epically bad, that; one wonders how it ever came about)

    Castro is a bad signing, but it’s only one year and doesn’t cost much… was Gload two years? I don’t mind signing him for one, but two seems a bit much. Etc.

  2. Bill Baer

    July 07, 2010 12:39 PM

    Pitchers can control ground balls and fly balls but for the most part, they have very little control on HR/FB rate. Now, pitchers who give up a lot of fly balls will give up more net home runs.

    Consider:

    Fly ball pitcher: 50 fly balls in 100 batted balls, HR/FB of 10% = 5 HR

    Ground ball pitcher: 35 fly balls in 100 batted balls, HR/FB of 10% = 3.5 HR

  3. mike

    July 07, 2010 01:30 PM

    The only way RAJ should consider trading for Lee is if they know they can lock him up. The Hamels-Lee proposition is interesting and maybe not as far-fetched from Seattle’s perspective, if only b/c Hamels would fit well into Seattle’s situation, and Safeco might be the difference between those flyballs being home runs vs. dying at the warning track. Cole might be the same pitcher with much better results in Seattle vs. Philly.

    Maybe they send Werth somewhere and flip those prospects for Lee. ;)

  4. Richard

    July 07, 2010 01:38 PM

    Yeah, I get that.

    I suppose I’d like to see more analysis linking the use of certain pitches (like Hamels’ decreased use of the changeup) with the spiked HR rate.

  5. Bill Baer

    July 07, 2010 01:53 PM

    Hmm… I don’t think you’d find anything substantial based on the sample sizes. Unfortunately, I have no database skills so I have no way of finding the information myself.

  6. Richard

    July 07, 2010 02:05 PM

    yeah, neither do I…. I’m also curious about 2-strike pitch analysis… on the one hand, Hamels gets a lot of Ks, so clearly he’s making plenty of good pitches when he has 2 strikes; on the other, most of his HRs come with 1-2 or 0-2 counts, which speak to lapses in judgment (though I realize a component of luck is that another pitcher might get away with the very same pitch)… just thoughts, not sure how measurable the tendencies might be given the available data

  7. David

    July 07, 2010 02:20 PM

    On last night’s telecast, Amaro actually addressed the “Cole is soft” perception. Said the good things you would expect: He competes. Look back at ’08, etc.

    What’s funny about the Cole backlash (and the backlash you get on this site defending him) is that critics of Hamels point to the ‘BABIP luck’ factor as being hogwash.

    Ok, fine. But using traditional stats, Cole’s actual Win/Loss record should be much better than what it currently is.

    www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/7069

    According to these numbers (as of last week), Roy and Cole are #1 and #7, respectively, in “Low ERA’s; high loss count.”

    Wins/Losses are a direct correlation to ERA and run support, no?

    So according to Saber-friendly guys, Cole has been unlucky.

    And according to traditional stats, Cole has been unlucky.

    The guy can’t win.

    Nice post, Bill.

  8. Bill Baer

    July 07, 2010 02:23 PM

    The guy can’t win.

    You sound like one of them!

    Just kidding — great points all around. And thanks for the kind words.

  9. Richard

    July 07, 2010 02:24 PM

    That’s a good point, David. Even last year, with his unlucky BABIP, etc, he could easily have had all the same numbers, and ended up, bullpen willing, with 14-16 wins, in which case, even with a 4.32 ERA, no one would have said a thing about him.

  10. mratfink

    July 07, 2010 03:58 PM

    Yeah Cole is a huge victim of the unrealistic expectations game. Today a guy at work came over and began ragging on him about last night’s game. I was thinking to myself ‘were we watching the same performance? because i saw 3 runs and 7 innings which is pretty good’ but some guys expect him to fire up zeros every time. Halladay can have off days but Cole can’t (i’m not saying Cole is as good as Halladay but the expectations for him are on the same level which is ridiculous).

  11. Bill Baer

    July 07, 2010 04:16 PM

    Some of Cole’s pitching performances where he’s gotten a no-decision or a loss:

    – April 18 vs. Florida Marlins: 8 IP, 2 ER (Phillies scored 0 runs)

    – May 4 vs. St. Louis Cardinals: 8 IP, 1 ER (Phillies scored 1 run for him and won in 10 innings)

    – May 29 @ New York Mets: 6.1 IP, 2 ER (Phillies scored 0 runs)

    – June 7 vs. San Diego Padres: 8 IP, 2 ER (Phillies scored 1 run after he left the game)

    – June 19 vs. Minnesota Twins: 7 IP, 3 ER (Phillies scored 10 runs but the bullpen allowed 9 runs in 3.1 IP)

    – July 1 @ Pittsburgh Pirates: 7 IP, 3 ER (Phillies scored 2 runs)

    – July 6 vs. Atlanta Braves: 7 IP, 3 ER (Phillies scored 3 runs, 1 in the 7th)

    Average ERA in those starts: 2.81

  12. jacqueline

    July 08, 2010 10:14 AM

    The Barkann friend fantasy sounds like something cooked up by Beerleaguer.

  13. Mark

    July 08, 2010 11:26 AM

    Cole is an extremely good pitcher and I like the top of the rotation. I don’t understand why the Phils didn’t resign Brett Myers though. He’s pitching very well and he’s actually at a fairly low price. Plus they would have had another option for a closer if Lidge falls apart again.

  14. Spree75

    July 08, 2010 03:30 PM

    I thought the dumbest thing said in the article Bill thrashed was the +33 million for Lee and Werth… By my count there are actually only 15 players with a guarenteed contract.

    Ruiz, Howard, Utley, Rollins, Polanco (infield)
    Ibanez, Victorino (outfield)
    Halladay, Hamels, Blanton (Starters)
    Baez, Madson, Lidge (Relievers)
    Schnieder, Gload (Bench)

    Castro and Romero are owed 300k but that’s only there termination costs…

    So 15 players for 134 Million. So taking account of the 2 million that was paid to Eaton, Feliz and Jenkins the team has 6 million to sign 10 more players if they want to stay at this years salary. There is no way to sign a superstar without massively increasing the payroll (10% would give you about 20 million to play with for the 10 roster spots). This mean no Lee, no Werth….

    Hey it’s easy to spend money when it’s not your own!

  15. Argive

    July 08, 2010 07:59 PM

    Checking out the comments on this piece (philly.com comments sections are entertaining all by themselves), I like the one dude who criticizes Amaro for giving up Doug Drabek.

  16. E

    July 09, 2010 09:27 PM

    Howard hit a game winner homerun.

    so oh course..

    HOward>>>>> Votto!!

    Screw his three walks, he didn’t help the team, he let it for someone else to do!!!!

  17. Duane

    July 10, 2010 07:40 AM

    Baer
    You are too funny Dude.

  18. Jordan Ware

    July 10, 2010 04:50 PM

    Philly fans usually have an excellent head on their shoulders when it comes to sports. This was the easily the worst trade in Phillies history and REGARDLESS if the Phillies are in first or last place and Cole is 18 and 0 or 0 and 18. People need to realize the trades were MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE!!! It was not a three team deal. The Mariners and Blue Jays had nothing to do with each other. So YES!!! We could have had both Doc and Cliff Lee if the Phillies wanted. For some dumb reason they didn’t. Now lets look at the reasons teams make trades and things GMs HAVE to consider. 1. Money involved 2. What you can get in return 3. How much that player can help you win a championship 4. Can that player come back to hurt you 5. What happens if we don’t make the trade?

    . 1. Money involved
    1.Money involved 9 million total for one year. This is a BARGIN price for a pitcher of Lee’s caliber. Cliff Lee was a CY young award winner in the American League and the average 2010 salary for the last 4 winnners of that award is 15.1 million. So the Phillies were getting a steal for the service of Cliff Lee at 9 million for one year. You make the numbers work. I don’t care what you do or how you do it. It is such a deal you have to make it work. Either you increase the budget by 6 freaking percent!!!! Or cut some salary. Either way make the numbers work it’s not a lot of money and it’s only for one year you HAVE to make it work,

    What you can get in return?
    2. I understand trades have to be made when the offer is too good to turn down. The idea was to trade Lee in the offseason to a team that would get him for a full year and a playoff push. This in return would create more value. What did Amaro do? He got three marginal players that look about as far away from the big leagues as possible. He got swindled. Common sense tells me that pitcher who was a starter then got turned into a reliever then back to a starter should be a BIG cause for concern. What do the Phillies do make him the centerpiece of the deal?!?!?!? Then they get a outfielder from single A with hearing problems and a dime and a dime a dozen Latino pitcher. Amaro didn’t even bother to try and drive up market value. If your at the lunch table in THIRD grade and got a fruit roll up at lunch and are looking to trade do you take the first offer of an apple? No you look for the best deal at the table simple letting everybody you don’t want the fruit roll up, that has been ingrained in people since they could talk. Ruben if your going to trade a postseason hero away from the fans at least TRY and get market value. I don’t know what the future holds but none of these guys were can’t miss guys. They were all prospects and the main part of the deal was a pitcher who came in as a starter then got switched to reliever and then the Phillies plan was to switch him back to a starter. Huh??? This was the best we could get. I find that hard to believe. If his talent was as a starter the Mariners would have kept him there and found him in a place in the rotation.

    How much can that player your trading help you win a championship?
    3. Loved Curt Schilling an amazing pitcher, future hall of famer and one of the all time great Phillies both as player and personality. He needed to be traded and it didn’t matter what we got in return that much because Curt could have gone 30 and 0 with 400 strikeouts and the Phillies still would have not won the world series. That team NEEDED to rebuild. This current Phillies team is at the best point in their ENTIRE 125 year history!! They have just come off two straight World Series and are poised to become one of the best Nation League teams of all time. A mini dynasty in the making. Their star players are all in their prime and the time to win is now. The playoffs are almost a lock barring injuries to Lee and Doc.( Side note: I still think the Phillies will make it back to the playoffs) Lee and Doc would have been one of the greatest one two punches in the history of baseball. That is all well and good for the regular season but where it matters most is the playoffs. That combo would have been as great as any GM could hope for and almost impossible to beat 4 times in a seven game series. Let me repeat that. The tandem of Lee and Doc would be almost IMPOSSIBLE to beat in 4 times in a seven game series!!!!! So while other teams got better( NYx2 Braves) the Philles actually got a lot worse.

    Can that player come back to hurt you?
    4. The Mariners were a third place team last year and are only ONE season away from 100 losses. We all knew Lee was going to test the free agent market so unless a third place team one year removed from 100 losses all of a sudden makes a run to the playoffs they were going to be trading Cliff Lee to a contender. A contender that the Phillies might have to play. We got lucky it was the Rangers but it easily could have been the Yankees or Mets. You should keep him for this reason alone.

    What happens if you don’t make the trade?
    5. If the Phillies don’t make the trade they get to keep Lee for one year at the bargain price of 9 million dollars and get to have one of the best rotations in baseball history that would be just about impossible to beat in the playoffs . Lee then may or may not sign but if he does not the Philles get two first round picks anyway so we are able to restock for the future.

    Please tell me again why it was a good idea to trade Cliff Lee. Can’t be money , cant be the great prospects we got. Why was it a good idea? Again I don’t care if the Phillies are in first or last regardless Ruben owed it to the fans and the players to try and field the BEST team possible and he failed .

  19. Jordan Ware

    July 10, 2010 05:08 PM

    “I don’t defend Ruben Amaro too much but I will defend him for the Lee trade.”

    Really? Could I please have a bottom line why you would defend this trade.

  20. Max

    July 11, 2010 01:26 AM

    People who comment on bad articles by hack sportswriters are generally from the same vein as the writer (it’s where I get most of my “Hamles sux!” material. The real stuff, not your mocking of it, Bill) but I love it when the readers turn on the writer. I’d pay a large sum of money for Murray Chass to have a comments section on his blog, simply to read all the hate spewed against him. My point: This comment is just too full of win to ignore: “How about Conlin to Seattle? We don’t want anything in return. Just Conlin to Seattle.”

    What makes any Conlin FAIL even funnier is that a friend often gives me the same advice when it comes to my writing. (As a writer for a small blog, I usually take any advice offered.) He always tells me to write like Conlin. That’s when I go to Conlin’s archive and find a random article to pick apart. Always good times to have friends who respect Bill Conlin as a sports columnist.

    Anyway, great read. Love reading people keep the spirit of the original FJM’ers alive.

  21. Ryan

    July 12, 2010 08:49 AM

    Here Here Max – RIP FJM… it was an inspiration to us all

    Bill good work on the post and you echo pretty much everything I have been screaming from the roof tops for the past 7 months on the local message boards.

    Here is the bottom line – if you are hanging your hat on “we got nothing in return” based on 4 months of performance by 3 guys who are 20-21 years old, lets just say that may be a bit shortsighted.

    Now, did we get a Justin Smoak in the deal? No… We got 3 players that our scouting department thought would all either help us at the big league level, or create trade value. Do we know that isn’t the case? No… we know Gillies has been hurt and Aumont has been slow to adjust to mechanical adjustments and to deal with the pressure created by this trade.

    But… 3 years from now – if Justin Smoak is the next Chris Davis (.200 hitter with 20 hr’s) and ANY of those guys are contributing at a reasonable level (above replacement) then who does it get judged? Does that mean that we then got the better of of all the deals?

    I know fans are knee jerk/reactionary, and I know we live in an instant gratification world, but good god, this is one of the more ridiculous things I’ve seen. To say that 3 players who have all been ranked in the top 10 in both our org and the marniners organization, to say that they are garbage or nothing based on their 4 months here is just obnoxious to me. Lets let them actually fail before we throw things like that around.

    Otherwise, if Gillies gets healthy and hits .330 the rest of the way, or Aumont continues to progress at high A (he’s 20 and k’ed 13 in 6 innings his last time out) or Ramirez cruises through half a season in Reading with a high 3.00 era, then what? Is everyone going to say “hey, maybe these guys are ok, and Ruben did alright”? Is Conlin going to write something like “I recant… Ruben got more than we thought he did”?

    And if that’s the case, and 3 good months of baseball can take a trade from “horrible” to “ok” or even “man the return was solid” then why jump off the handle and evaluate it in such definitive terms to begin with?

    Needless to say, this is a bit of a hot button issue for me.

  22. Bill Baer

    July 12, 2010 01:44 PM

    On the value of the three prospects the Phillies got back… looking at the WAR leaderboards for 2009, Marlon Byrd had 1.8 WAR with a .345 wOBA and -9.1 UZR/150. In other words, he was mediocre offensively, terrible defensively, but was still worth nearly two wins above replacement, which translates to about $8 million.

    If the Phillies get 1 WAR out of Gillies for six seasons, they’ll have received about $25 million in production. And that’s just one player.

    Brandon League of the Blue Jays put up 1 WAR last year with a 4.58 ERA and no saves. That was worth about $4.5 million.

    So it’s easy to see that the Phillies don’t have to have Aumont, Gillies, and Ramirez each turn into bona fide star players; if they can get just 1 WAR consistently for the six years prior to free agency, they’ll take that happily.

  23. Scott G

    July 14, 2010 03:55 PM

    If you’re Ruben Amaro Jr., why can’t you put all of your eggs in one basket? The team is comprised of people in their primes if not out of them. Utley 31, Rollins is 31, Ibanez is an old man, Polanco is 34, Werth is 31, Victorino is 29, Ruiz is 31, Halladay is 33, Moyer… The Phillies are not young, and when you look at a team like the mets, yes underachieving, but very young, I think the Phillies should try to win now while they clearly have the talent.

    The farm system is not built to replace ALL of these players at this time.

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