What if Chase Utley is unable to play this season? Do you have faith that rookie Freddy Galvis can hit major league pitching? With Ryan Howard gone until June, are you comfortable with Jim Thome, John Mayberry, Laynce Nix and Ty Wiggington filling in at first? Can Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino stay healthy enough to keep this team afloat?
So many valid questions that need to be answered.
The Phillies depleted their farm system in the Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee/Hunter Pence trades over the last three seasons, so there really aren't too many hot prospects down on the farm who can bring in a nice haul to fill in the 2012 gaps. Phillies starting pitcher Joe Blanton is continuously discussed in possible deals to free up a little bit of money, but for not much in return. So the question is, who could be dealt to possibly save the 2012 season?
The answer: Cole Hamels
It definitely wouldn't be the most popular move—unless fans were thrilled with what they got in return. Also, they would have to keep Blanton and move Vance Worley to No. 3 in the rotation, Blanton to No. 4, and take swing-man Kyle Kendrick out of the bullpen and into the No. 5 spot.
Halladay, Lee, Worley, Blanton, Kendrick. Not exactly the "Four Aces" of 2011, but a very workable rotation.
So who could the Phillies possibly partner with in a deal involving Cole Hamels?
First, a stud veteran infielder who is possibly on the last one or two years of his contract. How about Cincinnati Reds second basemen Brandon Phillips? His agents have met with Reds ownership to discuss a contract extension just like Hamels here. He's a terrific all-around player who would fit nicely into the Phillies lineup, especially if Utley's best days are in the rearview mirror. You can still hang onto Utley and play him at third base, a less physically demanding position than second. Possibly include Placido Polanco in the deal and get an arm back from Cincinnati in the deal.
The proposal: Cole Hamels & Placido Polanco for Brandon Phillips and left-handed reliever Bill Bray.
Who's Bill Bray? Bray appeared in 79 games last season and went 5-3 with a 2.98 ERA and sparkling 1.08 ERA. The Reds already added lefty Sean Marshall to their pen, so they could afford to include Bray for arguably one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Polanco could play second in Phillips' absence and they should still have enough pop in their lineup with Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Drew Stubbs.
Look, the Phillies won the 2008 World Series with a rotation of Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer and Blanton. The current rotation without Hamels is better than that. Where the Phillies lack compared to their 2008 season is the lineup. Brandon Phillips could change all of that and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is quick to make bold moves.
It definitely would not be the most popular trade for Phillies' fans to digest seeing their "Hollywood" 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP dealt, but it might just be the type of move needed to get them back to the World Series.
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