MLB Trade Deadline: One Trade to Fix the Philadelphia Phillies
In trying to stretch the consecutive division titles streak to six, the Phillies will likely be looking for a deadline upgrade.
Among other problems, the glaring issues with this team are in mid-to-late relief and power hitting.
As of right now, the only reliable relievers appear to be Jonathan Papelbon and Antonio Bastardo, with guys like Chad Qualls and Jose Contreras becoming more and more obsolete in late innings of close games. A quality eighth-inning guy could allow Bastardo to go back to a lefty specialist role and go a long way toward preserving leads.
The only two positions which could see an upgrade, really, are third base and left field, as all other positions have guys already entrenched.
Placido Polanco is still a great defensive player, and the lack of a market for good every day third baseman–Chase Headley is probably the best option available–probably crosses third base off the list.
Left field, on the other hand, is being occupied on most nights by Juan Pierre or John Mayberry Jr. Pierre is a nightmare defensively, mostly because of his laughable arm strength. On offense, he lacks any semblance of power. A role as a pinch hitter or runner is more suitable for his talents.
Mayberry Jr., meanwhile, is an average-fielding power guy who hasn’t hit for power this season (.324 SLG 1 HR). He has shown the skills in the past to be a quality right-handed bat, but with no options left to send him to the minors, he has little chance of getting the playing time to figure it out if it still exists.
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While improvements appear more pressing than in years past, one call to a familiar foe—along with the eventual returns of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard—might be enough to get the club back to the playoffs.
That foe, of course, is the Houston Astros.
While Ed Wade—the former Phillies general manager turned Astros GM and architect of the previous deals—is no longer employed by the club, the pieces still fit.
When Ruben Amaro Jr. calls current Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, the two names that should be discussed from Houston’s end are Carlos Lee and former Phillie Brett Myers, both of whom are scheduled to be free agents at season’s end.
Lee is an accomplished power hitting left fielder. He had 60 extra-base hits last season and is hitting .296 with 11 extra base hits so far in 2012. Even as a rental, acquiring the 35-year-old slugger would go a long way toward increasing run production for the Phillies up and down offense.
Upon the returns of "Chyan Howtley"—writing both of their names every time has grown tiresome—the lineup would go Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Pence, Lee, Ruiz, Polanco and pitcher.
That looks pretty forceful.
It would also allot additional time for Domonic Brown to get ready in Triple-A. The floundering offense from left fielders has increased pressure on Amaro to call up Brown from Lehigh Valley, but that is something he clearly isn’t ready for.
Who benefits from a trade of Carlos Lee and Brett Myers for John Mayberry Jr, Phillipe Aumont, and Harold Martinez?
With El Caballo entrenched and producing, the former top prospect could improve at his own pace and then—hopefully—take over for Opening Day 2013.
Adding the man who closed the game that clinched the first division title in this streak (and starting Opening Day the next season) might do more to help the team.
Myers has become a pretty lights-out closer in Houston, with 11 saves and a 1.80 ERA. He could immediately become the primary setup man for the Phillies, a position currently being juggled by Bastardo and Qualls.
While Qualls was strong in April, he has fallen apart to a degree in May, when opponents have hit .400 against him. With Myers on board, the journeyman could go back to a role of pitching in lower leverage situations—a role which he has shown to be more comfortable with throughout his career.
The package the Phillies would have to put together for these two soon-to-be free agents wouldn’t need to be crippling to the farm system for that reason.
The Astros seem to be a team on the rise with the hope to compete for a wild card as early as 2013 perhaps.
Two Major League ready guys—like Mayberry Jr. and Phillippe Aumont, who could take the roster spots vacated by Lee and Myers—and a project with upside like Harold Martinez would almost certainly get the trade done.
The trade of Lee and Myers for Mayberry Jr., Aumont and Martinez would seem to be mutually beneficial.
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For the Astros, it would allow them to get pretty good compensation for two players they will likely lose at the end of the season anyway.
For the Phillies, acquiring Lee and Myers would keep their window open with this core just a bit longer, while not depleting the system the way they’ve done in the past.
Trade talks are about to heat up real quick, and talented players on the block won’t last long.
Good thing Amaro has the Astros front office on speed dial.
Follow Ben on Twitter for more on all things Phillies @Ben_Larivee
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