Guest Post: Why The Phillies Need To Sell Now

Anthony Rodin is a Phillies and Mariners fan, as well as a freelance blogger whose work has been posted on Phillies Nation and ProBallNW.  You can follow him on Twitter @AntsInIN or e-mail arod1300 [at] gmail [dot] com.

The Phillies have lost eight of their last nine games, with some losses coming in heartbreaking fashion. Even though it is only June 12th, it’s beginning to get late quickly. In the broader sense of the things, the Phillies as a franchise find themselves at a crossroads, with the window for contention rapidly closing. For these and other reasons, I believe that the Phillies need to start selling, and start selling now.

Some may believe that this is tantamount to defeatism or a knee-jerk reaction to a losing streak, or that I’m advocating throwing in the flag early. After all, even after these recent doldrums, the Phillies are only eight and a half games out of first, only five and a half games back of the second wildcard spot. There are more than 100 games left. The Phillies have time and again shown themselves to be a second-half team. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are actually playing baseball and are on their way back. Roy Halladay will be back soon. And besides, this team can’t be this bad…can they?

The problem is that even if Utley and Howard somehow manage to come back by or close to the All-Star Break, and if the Phillies somehow manage to stay healthy for the rest of the year, this is still a deeply-flawed team. In order to compete this year, the Phillies need another bat (third base is the easiest offensive upgrade) and at least one reliever. Those types of pieces are going to be expensive, as the additional wildcard means there will be more buyers than sellers. Even short-term relief rentals will be expensive. To get the necessary pieces to compete, the Phillies will need to fully deplete their already barren farm system. Even this, though, would be a risky gamble, and come 2013 the Phillies would find themselves at the start of a long and painful rebuilding process.

Instead, by trading early, the Phillies can immediately begin the rebuilding process and generate a return that, when coupled with the financial flexibility they have this offseason, should immediately open a new window of contention. In short, rather than punt 2013-2014, the Phillies can compete in the foreseeable future and only sacrifice the next three months.

But why sell early? Why not just wait and see where the Phillies are at the deadline? There are three primary reasons for this: the value of the players the Phillies currently have, the market itself, and the undue pressure that a desperate playoff run will put on Utley, Howard and Domonic Brown.

First, the chips themselves. The most valuable chips the Phillies have are Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. In the current market, ace-caliber pitching and outfield offense are scarce. Thus, these three should command an impressive return. However, their value is only good so long as they are healthy. While Hamels has never been an injury risk, Victorino and Pence have been banged up in the past. Given the current state of the team’s offense especially, Victorino and Pence need to be in the lineup, and are more likely (and expected) to “play through pain.” All it takes is one collision with the wall, one tweaked hamstring or one missed start, before a player’s trade value plummets. By trading sooner rather than later the Phillies are risking less and maximizing their return.

Second, the market itself. Right now there are 18 teams in baseball that are within four games of a playoff spot. That’s 18 potential buyers, and all it takes are two or three teams to get a good bidding war going. The Phillies’ trade candidates are especially valuable. Unless Milwaukee decides to sell and makes Zack Greinke available, Hamels would be the sole ace-caliber starter available. There isn’t a team in baseball that wouldn’t be better with him. The problem is that, while the new collective bargaining agreement created a new wildcard, it also ensured that rental players, or players that will be free-agents this year, don’t yield draft picks. Thus, trading Hamels will most likely fetch less than CC Sabathia did in 2008, or Cliff Lee in 2010. However, there has not been a trade yet in the post-CBA world of an ace for a half season. As such, this is uncharted ground. By trading first, GM Ruben Amaro will not only set the market this year, but for aces in the years to come*. Instead, if Greinke does become available and is traded before Hamels is, the market and package for Hamels becomes defined by what Greinke got.

*The concept of Amaro defining a market terrifies me, but that’s a whole other post.

As for Pence and Victorino, the market for bats is also very shallow. Carlos Quentin is currently thought to be the best bat available, and while he’s had a hot start, he also has injury concerns. If the Phillies are willing to eat salary (and they should be), Pence would be especially valuable, as he is under team control for another year. Of course, he will most likely  cost about $14 million in arbitration, but it’s still cost certainty, and middle- and upper-tier clubs should be willing to spend for power from a corner outfielder. Victorino probably won’t yield a king’s ransom, but should at least fetch an MLB-ready reliever or role player.

Between Hamels, Pence and Victorino, the Phillies should bring back at least three young players that are close to MLB-ready, with at least one of them being a for-sure above average player. The Phillies also have a lot of money coming off the books next year, with Blanton, Victorino, Hamels and Polanco all hitting free agency. They could trade Hamels, and then sign him in free agency after the season. It might be more expensive than an extension would be, but the lack of progress on that front shows that he may be hitting the market even if he isn’t traded. Between the trade hauls and the financial flexibility, and coupled with the core of Lee and Halladay, the Phillies should be able to compete as soon as 2013.

The third reason to sell now is to alleviate pressure on the rehabbing duo of Utley and Howard, as well as creating a hospitable environment for Dom Brown when he eventually gets called up. Rather than hurrying back for a long-shot run at contention, punting the second half of the season would allow Utley and Howard to go slow and steady, with a focus on being ready Opening Day 2013. As the Phillies playoff chances grow more and more dire, and the team more desperate for any type of good news, Utley and Howard may feel the need to hurry back into the fray even if they aren’t 100%. If they do this, or if they are quickly needed to play the majority of games in the second half, then they could become a risk for a significant injury that not only impacts the rest of this season but 2013 as well. By focusing instead on 2013, the Phillies would be ensuring that Howard and Utley are at their peak of health (whatever that looks like at this point of their careers), and can healthfully and consistently contribute as the next window of contention opens.

As for Brown, a post-sale Phillies team would be a comfortable environment for him. Rather than being hailed as the savior of the Phillies’ offensive woes, Brown would become the face of the future franchise, along with the pieces that the three trades bring in. If the Phillies continue to go for it, Brown will be expected to perform immediately, with one bad week most likely reverting him back to a bench player. By selling early, the Phillies can also see whether or not Brown can stick in center field, or if that’s a need that will need to be addressed in free agency.

The Phillies are quickly finding themselves at a crossroads. They can go all-in for one last-ditch effort at contention in 2012 and hope that the core trio of Pence, Victorino and Ruiz all stay healthy, that Utley and Howard come back and contribute, and deplete their farm system for another bat and relief pitcher. Going this route almost all but ensures that the team will need to rebuild in at least 2013, if not longer, as the team will have even less help in the farm system and no pieces left to trade with. Or the Phillies can trade now, setting the market (rather than being dictated by it), getting maximum value for their three valuable pieces, and begin another multi-year run at contention in 2013, with a healthy core of Lee, Halladay, Utley and Howard surrounded with young, cost controlled stars and financial room to maneuver.

Sell. And sell now.

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45 comments

  1. Hog

    June 12, 2012 07:16 AM

    I agree the Phillies need to sell. And here’s the but. Aren’t you just a little worried that the return for those players could be magic beans? If the dude in charge of the crazy contracts is also in charge of the trades, well you can see where I’m headed.

  2. Bill Baer

    June 12, 2012 07:30 AM

    Yeah, Ryan Sommers said something a while back that made me feel like the Phillies were stuck between a rock and a hard place, which is that I really don’t trust Amaro to make optimal decisions in a quick rebuilding effort. And it’s likely he’s crippled any such efforts already with his albatross contract to Ryan Howard, the superfluous contract to Jonathan Papelbon, and all of the minor stuff in-between (e.g. Laynce Nix).

  3. Ryan

    June 12, 2012 07:59 AM

    Haha. The marginal gains of “setting the market” are easily dwarfed by the reward of a playoff chance for this team. 88 wins is a likely threshold for the 2nd wildcard. If they get into the playoffs they have as good a chance as anyone to win the World Series, assuming Hamels, Halladay, Lee, and Papelbon are all available. Too many players are under contract for too long for this team to punt and get some prospects which may or may not work out.

  4. r ellis

    June 12, 2012 08:05 AM

    How did it get to the point where Cole Hamels, a player developed by the team and has done everything this organization has asked him to do include win a championship, be the one player that has to be sold? It’s just terrible. If it isn’t bad enough that the team has handled his contract negotiations about as badly as possible, now he has to endure the trade rumors and the ensuing questions every time he pitches. I hope this is one move that really comes back to haunt this team.

  5. Bill Baer

    June 12, 2012 08:08 AM

    @ Ryan

    88 wins is a likely threshold for the 2nd wildcard

    The Phillies would have to play .590 baseball the rest of the way to get to 88 wins. I, uh, don’t see that happening.

    If they get into the playoffs they have as good a chance as anyone

    Really? I mean, I know we just watched the Cardinals and Giants win World Series, but…

  6. Gaël

    June 12, 2012 08:08 AM

    @Ryan,

    Thing is, unless they have an endless supply of cash and they don’t mind going over the luxury tax threshold, the Phillies will have to punt a season, and sooner rather than later. It’s not as if anyone wanted them to call it quits on the season just because. But not trading assets this year puts not only next year, but arguably the next few seasons in jeopardy.

    That being said, yeah, Amaro…

  7. BradInDC

    June 12, 2012 08:10 AM

    Not a bad argument, but I’m not sold. I’d rather hold Hamels and try to resign him or take the picks he’ll bring the Phils as 1A or whatever we’re calling that now. Unless he asks to be traded for a shot at the post season this year, trading him will likely cement his signing elsewhere. Vic or Pence can go in July if there’s no turn around in the next 4 weeks. Their value isn’t through the roof now compared to then, and I’ll take the injury risk on our side rather than folding for the year with as good a pitching staff as we’re likely to see in this town for a good long time if Hamels isn’t back in 2013.

  8. Michael

    June 12, 2012 08:32 AM

    If the price is right, and by right, I mean a couple of top prospects, I see trading Hamels. However, I would prefer to see the Phillies wait a bit if they decide to trade Victorino.

    He current has the lowest wOBA of his career and hasn’t looked good in center. Giving him a few weeks to get back on track could dramatically increase his value if he hits and fields like he’s capable of hitting and fielding, and I think that outweighs the potential injury risk.

  9. hmjjbe

    June 12, 2012 08:34 AM

    so the Phils are getting old and injury prone and the solution is to sell your 28 year old Ace? makes no sense to me.

  10. Michael

    June 12, 2012 08:39 AM

    @hmjjbe

    There’s no sense in moving Howard, Utley, Ruiz, or Polanco because you won’t get anything in return. They’ll provide more value on the team. Hamels, on the other hand, might only be around for another couple months, so having young controllable talent would be more valuable in the long run.

  11. Richard

    June 12, 2012 08:43 AM

    “If it isn’t bad enough that the team has handled his contract negotiations about as badly as possible”

    How do you know how the team has handled his contract negotiations?

  12. Jake

    June 12, 2012 08:47 AM

    I agree the Phillies should be sellers on some level. However I question whether trading away Victorino and/or Pence resigns the team to punting this season away. Good pitching + some decent relief + league average offense migth be enough. Stranger things have happened regularly in baseball. Trading these two pieces might get you some prospects to begin the rebuilding process with and still keeps your rotation for the rest of the season.
    You move Brown up and say – just do your best.

    Now if they fall 10 back or so in the next 4 weeks I’d advocate getting ride of any piece that anybody would take…including halladay, Lee, Chooch, Paps, Utley…whomever…if you are going to rebuild then go all in.

  13. hk

    June 12, 2012 08:48 AM

    Instead of holding a fire sale right now, I’d like to see them trade Pence now and promote Dom Brown to replace him with Dom being told that he is the starting RF for the rest of this season and beyond. The drop-off should be minimal, which allows them to buy a little more time to see if they can put together a good three weeks and move up in the standings before Utley returns on July 1 at the latest. If they have treaded water or lost ground in the standings by the end of June, they can look to trade Hamels and Victorino (and anyone else who brings a commensurate return).

    My big concern, which I share with others, is that Amaro is not the guy that I want selling stars for prospects, nor is he the one I want trading prospects for stars, but that is not relevant to the topic at hand. He’s the guy who traded one full $9M season of Cliff Lee for what was perceived by the likes of Keith Law and Jim Callis to be an underwhelming return and to this point, those writers have been correct.

  14. hk

    June 12, 2012 08:53 AM

    “How do you know how the team has handled his contract negotiations?”

    Obviously, none of us are privy to the conversations, but the fact that they let it get this far – to the point where they now probably have to give him more than Cain got – is an indication that they mishandled it. After all, we’re talking about a team that locked up a 30 year old 1B, two years before his free agency and for his age 32 to age 36 seasons without getting a discount from the player. If they want Hamels back, there’s little doubt it will cost them more now than it would have cost them before Cain signed and it’s probable that it would have cost them less (in years and AAV) if they had signed him during last season.

  15. Jesse

    June 12, 2012 09:07 AM

    Agree with the general sentiment but not all of the specifics. Yes, waiting a month carries injury risk, but it also lets you develop more information. Going first in trades doesn’t always work well, anyway; remember Pence and Bourn last year? (Though maybe those deals say more about Amaro than anything else). Also, I would do anything I can to re-sign Hamels. He’s worth CC money, and unless the Phillies are truly resigned to not competing for the next couple of years, I’d rather hold onto him at the deadline and see if we can keep him from going on the market.

    I would definitely move Pence and Vic, both of whom should have decent value. I would also dump Polanco just to save whatever money you can (someone could probably use his glove, and his contract is reasonable). Same for Blanton/Thome/Nix/Wigginton/Pierre–just dump as much of those salaries as possible.

    Here’s the interesting question: What do you do about Chooch? I don’t buy that you can’t get anything for him: he’s having a great season and has a team-friendly contract for this year and a team-friendly option for next year. Surely at least a couple of those 18 teams would be interested. The problem is, if you want to try to contend next year, Chooch will be a pretty important and relatively inexpensive piece of the puzzle.

    Assuming you hold Chooch but do the other moves, you still go into next year with Halladay/Lee/Hamels/Worley/Papelbon/Bastardo/Howard/Utley/Rollins/Brown/Chooch. Plus you’ve hopefully picked up at least one guy from the trades who is ready to contribute. That’s a core that, if healthy, should compete for a playoff spot.

  16. Jesse

    June 12, 2012 09:09 AM

    I should clarify that my last paragraph also rests on the assumption that the Phillies are able to re-sign Hamels.

  17. MG

    June 12, 2012 09:14 AM

    What is the utter dislike of the Nix signing on here? He’s making ~0.5% of their payroll. It’s a rounding error. Another veteran scrap heap signing would have saved them $200-$300k.

    Who in the Phils’ minor league system takes his role as a LH bat off the bench who plays 1B/LF and has some power?

  18. MG

    June 12, 2012 09:16 AM

    “Instead of holding a fire sale right now, I’d like to see them trade Pence now and promote Dom Brown to replace him with Dom being told that he is the starting RF for the rest of this season and beyond. The drop-off should be minimal, which allows them to buy a little more time to see if they can put together a good three weeks and move up in the standings before Utley returns on July 1 at the latest.”

    Brown is going to come up and give them an .830-.850 OPS and hit on a pace for 35-40 HRs? Think not.

  19. hk

    June 12, 2012 09:39 AM

    MG,

    1. It’s not as much Nix alone as it is Nix + Thome + Wigginton for $5M. The only problematic part about the Nix deal is that it is (unnecessarily) for 2 years.

    2. Maybe my use of the word minimal is an understatement, but are you sure that Brown cannot produce at that level? After all, he is only 24.

  20. nik

    June 12, 2012 09:48 AM

    Nix + Thome + Wigginton for $5M.

    I see absolutely 0 problems with that.

  21. AntsInIN

    June 12, 2012 09:51 AM

    Jesse –

    I tinkered with the idea of making Chooch available, but for that to happen the Phillies would need a close-to-the-majors propsect, something they simply do not have yet. Now, if a Hamels trade yields Travis D’Arnaud from Toronto or Devin Mesoraco from Cincinnati, then I think you can make Ruiz available, which would be nice since his value will most likely never be better.

    As for the concerns re: Hamels, there is nothing that says that the Phillies cannot re-sign him this offseason. In fact, Ken Rosenthal pointed out that we may actually see the development of a new trend of trade-and-re-signs, since players traded in the middle of the season in their last year won’t cost draft picks (mlbbuzz.yardbarker.com/blog/mlbbuzz/a_new_deadline_twist/10991756?new_post=true).

    I really don’t think Cole is going to sign an extension, so may as well get value for him and then try to sign him in the offseason.

  22. Frank K

    June 12, 2012 10:02 AM

    Brown will be a well-above-average major league outfielder. I hope it’s here, in left not center. Centerfield next year should be Michael Bourn. That solves the leadoff problem also and he’s lead the NL in stolen bases 3 years in a row. And bring Sandberg in soon. The Manuel era is over. We need an actual manager.

  23. hk

    June 12, 2012 11:19 AM

    “Nix + Thome + Wigginton for $5M. I see absolutely 0 problems with that.”

    Nix has a career OPS+ of 87 and is at an age where most players begin to decline. He was great in a small sample size prior to his injury, but I would expect his production to be closer to his career OPS+ of 87 than his 2012 OPS+ of 161 after he returns. In other words, I see nothing that leads me to expect anything better than below league average offense from this corner OF, who is signed to a guaranteed contract for 2 years. Laynce Nix’s are a dime a dozen. Why is he taking PA’s from Dom Brown and why would he already be guaranteed money against next year’s payroll (if not a roster spot)?

    Thome can still hit, but can’t run the bases nor field (and might be likely to get re-injured if they ask him to field). After the past 3 plus the next 6 in AL parks, Thome will be solely a PH.

    Wigginton, predictably, has been slightly better than a disaster providing below league average hitting while playing (poorly) positions from which you expect
    better than league average production.

  24. Jeff

    June 12, 2012 12:03 PM

    One big issue with trading Hamels: if he goes, he’d better go somewhere he won’t sign. Cannot give the Dodgers (etc.) a chance to negotiate with him during the season.

  25. Original Evan

    June 12, 2012 12:10 PM

    I spent some time this weekend thinking about whether the Phillies should sell now. Then I realized that it doesn’t matter, RAJ would never sell now and if he does sell it will be much later and he’ll get a crappy return anyway because he’s demonstrated a clear inability to evaluate prospects against major league talent.

  26. MG

    June 12, 2012 12:16 PM

    hk:

    1) These are Brown’s numbers at AAA since ’10:

    .286/.363/.440 (.803 OPS) with 12 HRs in 416 ABs.

    Decent numbers but its a real leap of faith bordering on the ridiculous that the Phils could trade Pence’s bat and Brown would come up and somehow hit at an .830-.850 OPS level & on a 35-40 HR pace. It’s just not a realistic assumption.

    2) Since Nix came back into the MLB as a semi-regular in ’09 these are his numbers:

    .258/.311/.468 (.779 OPS or 107 +OPS) with 37 HRs in 921 PAs.

    Yeah he has his limitations but what else are you expecting for basically a ~$1M on the FA market who plays average/above average defense in LF.

    Where is the internal LH bat who plays the OF at AA/AAA who can put up better numbers this year or next in a part-time role (leaving Brown out because he is a starter and needed the ABs)?

    Harping about a move where you could have saved maybe $200-$300k on a $170M payroll is ridiculous.

    Amaro gambled on Thome being able to play in the field occasionally and that he could give what Giambi has given the Rockies. Maybe it was a bad gamble since Thome isn’t a great PH option and hasn’t played the field. Understand why Amaro did it and again please don’t tell me a guy like Overbeck was the answer this year for that bench spot.

    Wigginton was a $2M gamble that he would be able to provide average/above average offense while Howard was out the first ~2 or 2 1/2 months of the season. Generally has done that. Problem is that Howard had a setup with the surgical infection at the incision and now likely won’t be back until the ASB at the earliest.

    Maybe the Phils should have locked at a player like Scott Hairston instead but the FA market was pretty lean this year too.

    For all of the crap that Amaro has gotten so far this year, he didn’t do a terrible job on the secondary moves overall.

    Maybe you hated the Papelbon deal because of the dollar/terms but if I recall correctly on here there was a ton of support for filling the bullpen largely with internal options and forgoing veteran FA relievers. That’s often a recipe for disaster especially with the caliber of bullpen prospects the Phils had going into the season. Get by with filling 1-2 of those spots but not 4-5 with the guys the Phils had coming into the season.

  27. WNS

    June 12, 2012 12:50 PM

    This may be heresy, but why not shop Utley to the American League where he could be a DH and have a prolonged career.

  28. hk

    June 12, 2012 12:52 PM

    Re Brown:

    1. Those numbers are across his age 22 through age 24 seasons. Do you believe he still has room for improvement or that he’s peaked at age 24?

    2. His 2011 power numbers have to be somewhat compromised by his broken hamate bone without which, his SLG would probably have been higher last year.

    3. I initially wrote about a minimal drop-off, after which I admitted that I probably underestimated the drop-off.

    If they can trade Pence for a cost controlled, MLB ready player who can upgrade them at another position, I think it would be worthwhile to get the salary cap / luxury tax relief and give Brown his shot while hoping that the combination of Brown + the return for Pence = Pence + what they have now.

  29. Drew

    June 12, 2012 12:55 PM

    This is ridiculous. The Phillies should not sell now. Here’s why:

    1. They’re not in that bad of a baseball team, especially when you consider the injuries. They are only 4 games under 500 with 100 games left to play. Considering the fact that arguably their top 2 hitters and 3 out their top 4 starting pitchers have all spent significant time on the DL, it’s remarkable that they aren’t 10 games under. A lesser team would be. Couple this with the fact that many of their recent losses have been tight ones characterized by bad defense by back-up players and poor managerial decisions shows me that even with so many of their top line players out, they’re still a decent team.

    2. They’re still in the hunt. Over the final 100 games, they could have three more 6 game winning streaks, and otherwise play 500 ball and finish at 88 wins which will put them in play for one of the wild cards. That is still a very possible scenario. This is especially possible when you look at all of the additions they will get off the DL around mid to late July: Utley and Howard will put a charge in the offense and neither will be defensive liabilities like the current back-ups. Halladay will be back and hopefully effective and bump either Blanton or Kendrick to the bullpen. Both could help balance out the bullpen. Some or all of De Fratus, Stutes, and Herndon will be off the DL and could also help solidify the ‘pen.

    3. There is very little to be gained by trading now. I don’t think the return on Hamels or Vic will be any less when the deadline rolls around and the Phillies are looking more definitely out of contention. The next month to month and a half will add clarity to a fuzzy picture and help the Phillies front office figure out what they have going forward. They could further assess Dom Brown’s status, if Gillies could be a legitimate major league CF’er, and how soon their AA and AAA arms like Cloyd and May will be able to contribute. It will also give them time to assess the market for young players in other systems and perhaps result in a situation where the phillies are both buyers and sellers at the deadline whereby they trade away polanco, victorino, and prospects to acquire a young, cost controlled third baseman or center fielder that may be able to help them this season and in the future.

    Another note: I don’t think Hamels should be traded. It is critical that he is signed to an extension in season. He will be the best available starter on the market this offseason and if he is not resigned the Phillies rotation will go from great to average. There are no top flight ML ready pitching prospects in the phillies system now that could fill in in the event Hamels signs elsewhere and even if one is acquired via trade, it is not a sure thing that the player could turn out to anything close to what Hamels offers forward.

    As far as Pence is concerned, he should not be traded this season (and definitely not now) and should only be traded once the outfield picture is clarified (i.e. figure out the future of vic, brown, gillies, this year’s free agents, etc.). He could be traded in the upcoming off-season, extended long term, or traded during his walk year depending on the other variables in play. If they trade him now, this team goes from marginally viable contender to completely out of contention immediately.

  30. AntsInIN

    June 12, 2012 12:57 PM

    WNS –

    Utley’s value is at an all-time low. While I like the idea, we need to see how he bounces back for the tail-end of this season. If he produces like his old self, then it would be something to look into this winter or next season, depending on where the Phils are come July 2013.

  31. hk

    June 12, 2012 01:04 PM

    Re Nix, Thome and Wigginton:

    1. I have no problem with Nix’s salary in and of itself. I just didn’t see the need or reason to sign him for 2 years and, if th team was insistent upon burying Dom in AAA for all of 2012, I would have preferred that they sign the likes of Josh Willingham instead of Nix + Thome + Wigginton.

    2. Wigginton’s OPS+ is 99. That’s slightly below average for all NL hitters, which is below average for a power position like 1B. In addition, he’s been atrocious in the field playing whatever position at which they try to hide him. If you think he’s done what he was acquired to do, you set the bar a lot lower than I do.

    3. The Thome signing would have been a good one if he could play a below average 1B and not get hurt doing so. I’ll concede that that one might have been a worthwhile risk at the time.

  32. Smitty

    June 12, 2012 01:18 PM

    Drew, I could not agree with you more. The way Pence is hammered in this column he would appear to be a red haired step child. Trade him and you might as well have Cliff Lee bat cleanup because he is the next best hitter ! He is the only hitter other than Chooch in the lineup !

  33. hk

    June 12, 2012 01:30 PM

    Drew and Smitty,

    The reasons for thinking they should trade Pence are not because anyone is down on Pence. They are because:

    1. The assumption in this exercise is that the team wants to stay at the luxury tax limit. Therefore, it will not be able to keep all three of Hamels, Victorino and Pence next year and beyond.

    2. Pence, because of how well he has performed, should bring back a decent return. No one wants to give him away as a salary dump.

    3. Regardless of whether Brown can provide an OPS close to Pence’s .833 or not, it would seem that the drop-off from Pence to Brown is less than the drop-off from Victorino to whatever CF would replace Shane and is surely less than the drop-off from Hamels to whatever SP would replace Cole.

  34. Frank Reynolds

    June 12, 2012 03:42 PM

    I have to say on Sunday after the game I was thinking sell. After The mess I watched on Saturday and Sunday I was really down on the team. They could turn it around but that has to start today. Bottom line if they continue to play like this they are sellers. One thing I really think is an unrealistic thought is if we trade Hamels now that he would come back. Sorry I think that is really wishful thinking.

  35. Jesse

    June 12, 2012 07:50 PM

    Hey, not sure if others have thought of this, but what team that probably won’t be in the Hamels sweepstakes this fall could really use a top-line starter in the second half?

    Washington.

    It makes almost too much sense, right? Nats want to shut down Strasburg but still want to compete for a playoff spot. Hamels could take Strasburg’s spot in the rotation, and it wouldn’t be a huge investment for the Nats. Phillies could still try to sign Hamels in the off-season. I have no idea if the Nats have a prospect the Phillies would want, but I think it’s high time someone started a baseless rumor that this is about to happen. (Plus, the Hamels-Harper stories would be great; mortal-enemies-turned-best-buds or whatever narrative the media wants to give us.)

  36. Frank Reynolds

    June 12, 2012 08:56 PM

    Jesse
    I really don’t think they would trade Hamels in the division. RAJ can’t be that dumb.

  37. ColonelTom

    June 13, 2012 09:24 AM

    hk: “Regardless of whether Brown can provide an OPS close to Pence’s .833 or not, it would seem that the drop-off from Pence to Brown is less than the drop-off from Victorino to whatever CF would replace Shane”

    A Brown/Mayberry platoon would replace Shane for this season and would hit about the same, though they’d suffer on defense. Brown/Mayberry would then slide to left next year if the team can sign one of the many free-agent CFs. It’s a bumper crop:

    Josh Hamilton
    Michael Bourn
    B.J. Upton
    Angel Pagan
    Melky Cabrera
    Torii Hunter
    Shane Victorino

    On the off-chance that Gillies turns out to be a legit major-leaguer by 2014, any of those guys could slide to a corner when Pence hits free agency.

    Other than guys listed above, the LF/RF market is weak and full of terrible defenders (Carlos Quentin, Luke Scott, Carlos Lee). Trading Victorino might also be the best way to bring him back next year on a reasonable deal instead of a disastrous long-term extension signed before the season ends.

  38. Mark

    June 13, 2012 10:09 AM

    Here’s my idea:

    Trade Hamels to the Texas Rangers. The Rangers need pitching to get them over the wall that has stopped them in the World Series the past two years. In return the Phillies get: Mike Olt 3B, maybe Leonys Martin, and a pitching prospect.

    Olt is killing AA pitching. He is a power right handed bat that could man the hot corner in South Philly for years to come. The Rangers have Beltre locked up, so why not try to move him for a impact player that can help them win now.

  39. hk

    June 13, 2012 11:23 AM

    ColonelTom,

    If the intent is to trade an OF right now and try to limit the drop-off, I was debating whether it would be better to trade Pence or Victorino. The reasons that I chose Pence were (1) I assume that Pence would bring a greater return and (2) I did not think the team would be willing to play Dom in CF. Either way (trading Pence or Victorino), the team would get some luxury tax relief for this year and some payroll flexibility for next without totally pulling the plug on this season.

  40. Daniel

    June 13, 2012 03:19 PM

    I could not agree with this article more. If last year’s team could not get past the division series, it seems unlikely that this year’s team will be able to play 590 ball for the rest of the season. The writing has been on the wall since 2009. There’s a consistent annual regression and it means not making the playoffs this year. Rebuild. Now.

    Besides, if RAJ has proven anything, it’s that trading a star pitcher does not mean you can’ resign him the following offseason. Cliff Lee is proof of that. Trade Hamels and get what you can. Resign him when he becomes a free agent.

    I think Pence’s bat will fail miserably once he ages a tad. He seems to hit the ball out of shear athleticism, not out of good, sound mechanics. Trade him now while he can still slap at the ball with success.

    Victorino is nothing incredibly special. His best year was last year. He’ll probably never play at that level again, and definitely won’t do it with annual consistency.

    I only hope that RAJ sees the reality of the situation, just like Bill Baer does.

  41. shane

    June 15, 2012 10:30 AM

    Really love when people think you could trade Hamels and then have a chance at signing him in the winter. Sure it kinda happened with Lee, but that’s such a slap in the face. Would you sign with the team who just dished you out not 6 months prior?

    Trade Victorino and get a right handed reliever. With that, Utley, Howard, and Doc, this team could play .590 ball for the rest of the way and make the playoffs.

  42. LTG

    June 15, 2012 12:03 PM

    Josh Hamilton
    Michael Bourn
    B.J. Upton
    Angel Pagan
    Melky Cabrera
    Torii Hunter
    Shane Victorino

    Given the money and years required and the likelihood of decline or regression, only one of these players will be a good free agent signing for whatever team does it: Michael Bourn. And even Bourn might be too expensive because his outlier numbers this year will be all that teams look at. (Torii Hunter? really? Melky? Are they even proper CFs?)

    If the Phillies are planning to contend they will probably have to sign someone because there are no good in-house solutions. But it will probably be another 30 year-old decline contract that overvalues the player and hand-cuffs the team ability to make good moves in the future.

  43. LTG

    June 15, 2012 12:04 PM

    Of course, if RAJ were creative the need could be addressed through a trade. But he’s not and we have little to offer anyway.

  44. kb

    June 15, 2012 12:31 PM

    “Between Hamels, Pence and Victorino, the Phillies should bring back at least three young players that are close to MLB-ready, with at least one of them being a for-sure above average player.”

    The problem is identifying a player as “for-sure” or not.

    Look at Murphy’s recent article to be reminded of what the return was on the somewhat equivalent Sabathia/Lee trades of the last few years. Smoak and LaPorta were top 25 prospects and most considered them “for-sure” impact players but so far, neither has delivered. Hamels is 28 and I think it’s safe to say he’s “for-sure” so is trading him worth the gamble?

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    February 22, 2013 08:35 AM

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