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Monday, July 29, 2013

Phillies Trade Possibilities

by: Chris Creighton
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Ruben Amaro Jr.
Courtesy of
The time has come, Phillies fans. Make no mistake about what you're seeing on the field and reading in the papers, sell mode has now become a reality. Perhaps I may be channeling my inner Captain Obvious, but for the sake of those still holding out hope, change is a-comin'. After the ugliest road trip in recent memory mercifully came to an end, the Philadelphia Sports Media pulled no punches welcoming several Phillies players to Seller-dome.

Over the next three days, Ruben Amaro Jr. will be feverishly finagling the phones in an effort to receive as much as he can in return for some of his aging and/or moderately overpaid stars. With the July 31st non-waiver trade deadline rapidly approaching, the painful process of making the hard decisions to deal perennial fan-favorites looms large in the offices at One Citizens Bank Way.

But this isn't at all new territory for the Phillies General Manager as he's made several bold moves during his five year tenure as the big boss man, just not so many in the role of seller. Amaro will face these decisions head-on this week, but he has to know that he can only pull the trigger when the answer is an emphatic "yes" to this question. It certainly wouldn't hurt for him to hang a few pictures of Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez around his desk as a reminder of the notoriously nasty Cliff Lee trade to Seattle in 2010. Fool me once...

Ironically, Lee will find himself once again right in the thick of the hundreds of rumors that will swirl until 4pm Wednesday. In addition to Lee, there will be several other usual suspects along with a few newcomers whose names will be tossed about between the MLB brass.

Let's review their trade potential:

Jonathan Papelbon
Courtesy of
Jonathan Papelbon - 80%: We've all had that roommate. It began so well, it was perfect, right? Good credentials, likes to party, but inevitably, the crazy gets old. So much, in this case, that Amaro will need to front Pap's first and last months' rent and security to his next landlord just to get rid of him.

Papelbon tried his best yesterday to further alienate himself from the fan base yesterday--the same fans he never really connected with anyway--when he said, "I definitely didn't come here for this.". Classic case of forcing-the-hand of his superiors. I get that the philosophy and team direction was definitely different when he inked his large deal, but comments like this from the outspoken, Kramer-eque closer will never go well in Philadelphia. Crazy like a fox, Papelbon knew fully well what he was doing.

Word on the street is that the Texas Rangers are shopping Joe Nathan, which may soften the market for Papelbon.

Closing the Deal: Papelbon's contract is THE bugaboo here and any trade partner will undoubtedly ask for the Phillies to eat a large portion of his $13 million per season. With a TV deal coming to Philadelphia, it may be the saving grace towards a possible trade.

And while Papelbon's velocity is down, his playoff pedigree may be enough to sway the final decision. Based upon the crazed look in his eye every time he takes the hill, another taste of October baseball may just adrenalize him that much more.

Potential Suitors: Boston, Pittsburgh (Grilli out 6-8 weeks), Cleveland, Los Angeles Dodgers

Cliff Lee and Michael Young
Courtesy of
Cliff Lee - 10%: If the team won't choose to commit to a complete team rebuild, the tandem of at least Hamels and Lee will need to be intact heading into 2014. Trade Lee now and find out that the old Roy Halladay returns later this season? It's a scenario that has got to be weighing on the minds of Phillies upper management.

Amaro is apparently listening to offers for Lee, but unnamed executives across MLB have confirmed that the Phillies will need to be blown away. It's still my contention that Lee will remain a Phillie after Wednesday.

After missing a start, Lee's stiff neck over the weekend was confirmed legit by a teammate, so there also may be some hesitancy for any interested parties. On the surface, it may seem minor, but ask Clay Buchholz how that has worked out for him. The Boston pitcher has been on the shelf since early June with a similar ailment.

Potential Suitors: Boston, Baltimore, Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis (not on Lee's no-trade list)

Michael Young - 90%: He will be traded either before the non-waiver deadline expires or after as a waiver pickup in August. His 2013 debut with the Phillies hasn't been bad, but it hasn't been as productive as expected as we all thought he'd have more than 32 RBI on July 29th.

2013 100 18 3 7 32 .277 .342 .402 .743 17
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 7/29/2013.

However, he is an experienced bat who can play either corner infield position but will be more attractive as a DH for an American League contender.

Potential Suitors: Baltimore, Texas, Boston, New York Yankees and possibly Tampa

Chase Utley - 10%: Is arguably the most attractive player out there among potential targets, but I don't see Amaro trading Utley unless he flips the team's course to a complete overhaul. You may have read my opinions on Utley here and my gut has not changed over the past 48 hours. Utley's contract will be extended at some point before the end of this season.

However, this is not to say teams won't be calling.

Potential Suitors: Baltimore, Oakland, Los Angeles Dodgers

Carlos Ruiz
Courtesy of
Carlos Ruiz  - 50/50%: It all comes down to whether or not teams will still believe Chooch's last two seasons at the plate weren't influenced by the banned substance(s) he ingested into his fireplug frame. It's that simple. His 46-game slash-line of .253/.301/.280 presents valid cause for concern, especially with his slugging percentage at such a dreadfully low level.

However, he is a top-3 MLB defender behind the plate and a proven ace whisperer as few backstops can handle a pitching staff as well as our beloved Chooch. Ruiz's pitch-calling and feel for opposing batters could be the difference in turning a good start into a dominant one in the playoffs.

If Amaro does send Ruiz packing, it will not be a very popular move as the Citizen Bank Park faithful have developed quite the love affair for the diminutive and soft-spoken catcher from Panama.

Potential Suitors: New York Yankees, Tampa, Oakland, Los Angeles Dodgers

Delmon Young
Delmon Young - 40%: Yes, please. The guy just doesn't fit the future of the Phillies regardless of the direction. Employed as a stop-gap project in right field, Delmon Young has brought his numbers to the level where teams will kick the tires on him, but will limit his attraction to American League teams only as a DH off the bench. Either way, Young won't return to the Phillies fold next year, so why not try and get something, anything in return?

Any party willing to invest won't have to worry about salary since he's riding a one year, $750k contract and would most certainly only be a rental. The question is will there be a team willing to bank on a possible repeat of last year's ALCS MVP and World Series performance? Low risk, high reward. But therein lies the rub on Delmon Young; you never know what you are going to get in return night in, night out.

Potential Suitors: New York Yankees, Oakland

In my opinion, we should be ready to say goodbye to at least two of the above-mentioned players. My guess is that we won't be too weepy after the dust settles as it is my prediction that only Papelbon and Michael Young will relocate. Safe, but necessary trades.

What would you like to see happen?


Anonymous said...

Phillies new coach as dumb as the last one. With a 2-1 lead, and Utley on forst with no outs, the dunce does not bunt Ruiz, but allows him to hit into a double play. Playing against the odds is the same dumb thing that Manuel did.

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