MLB Trade Deadline: Grading Each of Phillies' Last 25 Big Deadline Deals

Greg Pinto@@Greg_PintoCorrespondent IJuly 27, 2012

MLB Trade Deadline: Grading Each of Phillies' Last 25 Big Deadline Deals

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    The game of baseball can be a lot like a game of Russian Roulette at times.

    More often than not, teams find themselves in unfavorable positions, especially at the trade deadline. General managers are forced into facing difficult decisions. Do they surrender the future (in prospects) to win now, or do they surrender the here and now to be better in the future?

    Very rarely is baseball a game of clear-cut odds. In fact, that may be one of the few situations in life where the word "never" actually applies. There is always a risk in making a big trade, even if it seems favorable at the time.

    So as we approach the trade deadline of yet another baseball season here in 2012, what better time is there to look back and learn from the past.

    The 2012 Philadelphia Phillies are in a unique situation. Do you rally around the core of All-Stars already assembled, add more to it or subtract from it? That should become clear either way.

    One thing you can expect the Phillies to do is make a move in some way, shape or form, and when they do, make sure you come back and compare it to the last 25 big, deadline deals they've made.

Pence to the Phillies

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    Grade: C+

    There's a difference between "liking" a deal for a certain club and giving it a good grade, and that's something that I'm going to mention frequently over the next few slides. The Phillies' deal for Hunter Pence is the perfect example.

    When you look back over the first half of the 2011 season, the Phillies desperately needed a right-handed hitter with power to play right field. Domonic Brown and Ben Francisco just weren't getting the job done at the time.

    They had been linked to a few guys but finally pulled the trigger on a deal with the Houston Astros to acquire Pence for Jonathan Singleton, Jared Cosart, Josh Zeid and Domingo Santana.

    That is a lot to part with for a guy like Pence, whom most consider a complementary player. Most people considered it an overpay on behalf of the Phillies, and it was.

    But the Phillies also got the perfect guy for not only their lineup, but their clubhouse as well, and you can make a strong argument that the only guy the Phillies will truly miss out of that group of prospects is Singleton.

Oswalt to the Phillies

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    Grade: C

    When you think about why the Phillies were backed into acquiring Roy Oswalt in the first place (because they were too cheap to pay Cliff Lee before trading him), this deal looks all the worse.

    After dealing Lee, the Phillies needed an upgrade in their starting rotation at the 2010 trade deadline. After setting their sights on two guys in particular—Oswalt and Dan Haren—the Phillies eventually acquired the former.

    While most believed that J.A. Happ was a weak center piece for a trade, everyone knew that the rebuilding Houston Astros were much more interested in the prospects they were acquiring: Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar.

    The Astros would eventually flip Gose to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for Brett Wallace, but the point remains clear—the Phillies parted with a pair of high-ceiling guys for what basically amounts to one full season of Oswalt.

    They'll miss both Gose and Villar in the future.

Lee, Francisco to the Phillies

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    Grade: A+

    I don't really like to use the term "fleeced" that much because, in any baseball trade, both teams usually make a deal that helps out both sides in some way, shape or form.

    But the Cleveland Indians were absolutely fleeced by Ruben Amaro Jr. in the 2009 Cliff Lee deal.

    In that deal, the Phillies would acquire the true ace that they desperately needed at the top of their rotation and the right-handed bat they desired for their bench in Ben Francisco.

    Meanwhile, they parted with four very expendable prospects in Carlos Carrasco (who had fallen out of favor with the Phillies), Jason Donald (a utility infielder), Lou Marson (a back-up catcher) and Jason Knapp, who has, arguably, the highest ceiling.

    Of course, Lee would help the Phillies return to the World Series that year.

Blanton to the Phillies

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    Grade: B

    This was a solid deal that will be forever underrated because the Phillies were naive enough to think that Joe Blanton could pitch his way into the top of their rotation and paid him much more than what a back-of-the-rotation starter should be paid.

    In 2008, however, it was a different story.

    The Phillies were making a legitimate run at their second National League East title and needed some pitching to help out their explosive offense.

    They would go on to swing a deal with the Oakland Athletics in exchange for Blanton, surrendering three prospects in Josh Outman, Adrian Cardenas and Matt Spencer.

    Blanton would be a big help in the Phillies' rotation that season, and they'd eventually re-sign him to stay in Philadelphia.

    Meanwhile, although both Outman and Cardenas would eventually reach the MLB, neither has had much success or longevity, and Spencer has yet to see the MLB.

Lohse to the Phillies

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    Grade: B-

    The Phillies were still on the bubble when the 2007 trade deadline rolled around. They weren't sure that they were legitimate contenders just yet and thus, didn't want to surrender much in a trade at the deadline.

    So instead of going out and making a huge splash, the team acquired starting pitcher Kyle Lohse from the Cincinnati Reds.

    Lohse would prove to be a solid pick-up, going 3-0 with a 4.72 ERA for the Phillies in 11 starts (and 13 games overall).

    Of course, it was only a solid deal insofar as that the Phillies didn't have to surrender much to acquire him. They sent Matt Maloney—a solid, but expendable, left-handed pitching prospect—to the Reds to complete the trade.

Abreu to the Yankees

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    Grade: D+

    A lot of people will tell you that the Phillies did well in dealing Bobby Abreu to the New York Yankees because they were able to move his salary off of the books. Well, I'm not one of them.

    Abreu was a very polarizing player during his Phillies tenure. Some will tell you that he was a clubhouse cancer and needed to go. Others will tell you that he was one of the greatest hitters in the history of this franchise.

    I'm a member of that latter group.

    While Abreu definitely wanted out of Philadelphia because he couldn't envision the club contending, at the end of the day, that was a decision left in the hands of the Phillies' front office who knew that help was on the way.

    The Phillies' front office decided against keeping him around, but if you're going to tell me that the 2007 Phillies would have been worse with Abreu playing right field, it's time for a reality check.

    Instead, the Phillies dumped his salary on the Yankees, who sent C.J. Henry, Jesus Sanches, Carlos Monasterios and Matt Smith to the Phillies to complete the trade. None of the players acquired in this trade, except for Smith, who logged just 12.2 innings with the club, would appear in the MLB with the Phillies.

    Meanwhile, Abreu would help lead the Yankees to a first place finish in the American League East.

Jones, Correll to the Phillies

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    Grade: C

    Long before the Phillies got their reputation for loving the big deadline deal, they had a reputation for being cheap and making questionable decisions, so prepare yourself for that from here on out.

    One interesting trade came during the 2004 season, when the Phillies made a couple of moves to bolster their bullpen.

    In the first deal, the Phillies would acquire Todd Jones and Brad Correll from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for Josh Hancock and Anderson Machado.

    Both Hancock and Machado were fringe prospects at the time, and Jones was having a good season for the Reds. That success wouldn't necessarily translate over to his time with the Phillies, but he was a solid veteran nonetheless.

    Machado never amounted to much, but Hancock would be a huge part of the St. Louis Cardinals' bullpen when they won the World Series in 2006.

    Hancock was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident in 2007.

Rodriguez to the Phillies

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    Grade: B

    The Phillies would swing a second deal for a reliever at the 2004 trade deadline when they acquired Felix Rodriguez from the San Francisco Giants.

    Rodriguez was pitching well for the Giants at the time, but the Phillies were able to convince them to move him in exchange for Ricky Ledee and Alfredo Simon.

    Rodriguez would appear in 23 games for the Phillies and post an ERA of 3.00. Ledee, who was a part-time player in the first place, would fill a role on the Giants' bench while Simon has never lived up to his potential.

    The Phillies would later trade Rodriguez to the New York Yankees for center fielder Kenny Lofton in another favorable move.

Rolen, Nickle to the Cardinals

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    Grade: D+

    The Phillies were most definitely backed into a corner and stuck between a rock and a hard place in regards to the end of Scott Rolen's career in Philadelphia, but that doesn't mean they had to make a terrible trade.

    After demanding a trade, the Phillies would send their All-Star third baseman to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Placido Polanco, Mike Timlin and Bud Smith. It wasn't a great deal for the Phillies.

    While Polanco would certainly be serviceable, he would have his best days as a member of the Detroit Tigers. Timlin would finish out the year in the Phillies' bullpen before reaching free agency, and Smith, who had thrown a no-hitter with the Cardinals, never reached the MLB for the Phillies.

    Rolen, of course, would eventually win a World Series as a member of the Cardinals in 2006.

Cook, Wendell to the Phillies

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    Grade: C

    This one still leaves me scratching my head, but it actually wasn't a terrible deal for the Phillies.

    Although the team wasn't going to contend for much of anything in 2001, the team had decided to swing a deal to land a couple of relievers to upgrade their bullpen. They would receive Dennis Cook and one of the quirkiest guys in the history of baseball, Turk Wendell.

    They would send Bruce Chen to the New York Mets to bolster their starting rotation and a prospect by the name of Adam Walker that would never reach the MLB.

    All of the players in the deal were solid, but unspectacular.

    Cook, who was already a former Phillie at this point, logged an ERA of 5.59 for the struggling Phillies. Wendell was a lot worse, posting an ERA over seven, but after missing all of 2002 with an injury, would be one of the club's best relievers in 2003.

    Chen soaked up some innings for the Mets, but wasn't long in the city that never sleeps.

Ashby to the Braves

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    Grade: D

    The Phillies gave up quite a bit to get Andy Ashby in 1999. While it seems almost laughable at this moment in time, both Carlton Loewer and Adam Eaton were first-round draft picks by the Phillies, both of whom were sent to the San Diego Padres in exchange for the right-handed Ashby.

    Well, it didn't really work out. The Phillies were out of contention before they could blink in 2000 and had decided to trade Ashby already by mid-July.

    One team that came calling was the rival Atlanta Braves, and they were able to pry Ashby away from the Phillies for next to nothing.

    The deal included Bruce Chen, who would be sent packing by the 2001 trade deadline, and Jimmy Osting, who would never play in the MLB for the Phillies.

    Ashby would win eight games for the Braves that year as they finished in first place in the NL East.

Daulton to the Marlins

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    Grade: F

    It may not seem like a huge deal, but in hindsight, trading Darren Daulton to the Florida Marlins hurt.

    Of course, Daulton was the starting catcher for the Phillies for a long time. For at least a part of 14 seasons, Daulton was the leader of the Phillies' clubhouse, one of their best players on the field and a fan-favorite at that.

    While the Phillies were out of the race by July in 1997, the Marlins weren't. They needed help behind the plate and in the leadership area of their club, and which players fit that role better than Daulton? 

    The Phillies sent Daulton to the Marlins in exchange for Billy McMillon, who appeared in all of 24 games for the Phillies.

    Daulton would go on to do the one thing that he could never accomplish with the Phillies as a member of the Marlins: Win the World Series. He'd retire that offseason.

Mulholland to the Mariners

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    Grade: B

    Terry Mulholland was traded a lot during his career. Must have been a rough lifestyle. Then again, he was an MLB player, so there is that.

    Anyway, Mulholland spent a couple of different stints with the Phillies. During the 1996 season, the Phillies had fallen out of contention and were trading off some of their pieces, Mulholland amongst them.

    They made a pretty good deal at the time, though it seems laughable right about now. They traded Mulholland to the Seattle Mariners for a shortstop by the name of Desi Relaford.

    Relaford would never amount to much in Philly, but at the time, he was rated the 89th best prospect in baseball by Baseball America.

    The Phillies had a longstanding hole at shortstop and filling that need by moving Mulholland seemed like a no-brainer at the time. It just never worked out.

Hollins to the Red Sox

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    Grade: B+

    This was a solid deal for the Phillies that probably shouldn't have been solid.

    Dave Hollins had been a solid third baseman for the Phillies. He was a former All-Star and a guy that the fans enjoyed. Their biggest problem was that they weren't a contender in 1995 and wouldn't be for a few seasons. They needed to get value out of Hollins' expiring contract because they didn't think they could re-sign him.

    The Phillies would acquire Mark Whiten from the Boston Red Sox at the deadline and it was a good pick-up. Whiten posted an OPS better than .800 for the second half of the season.

    The Phillies would go on to release Whiten in June of '96.

McDowell to the Dodgers

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    Grade: D+

    This was a deal that made a little less sense for the Phillies. Sure, they were having a bad year with no light at the end of the tunnel. That made reliever Roger McDowell expendable. But he also had a year and a half left until free agency. He was valuable. 

    Instead, the Phillies traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Braulio Castillo and Mike Hartley.

    Neither player amounted to much for the Phillies. Castillo's MLB career consisted of 56 games for the Phillies, and he never posted an OPS better than .580. Hartley, a reliever, pitched in 64 games over parts of two seasons before the Phillies sent him packing.

    Meanwhile, McDowell would eventually have the best year of his career for the Dodgers in 1993.

Frank Thomas to the Astros

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    Grade: C

    First and foremost, no. Not that Frank Thomas.

    Long before the "Big Hurt" was crushing baseballs as a member of the Chicago White Sox, the Phillies had their own hitter by the name of Frank Thomas. The Phillies acquired Thomas from the New York Mets and he helped their lineup instantly.

    Though the 1964 Phillies' team will forever be remembered for its infamously dark end, Thomas was one of the club's lone bright spots, after he hit .294 and posted an OPS of .829.

    A year later, the Phillies let him go for practically nothing. He was purchased by the Houston Astros and the cheap Phillies returned.

Bobby Del Greco to the Athletics

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    Grade: A

    This was a much better deal for the Phillies.

    Bobby Del Greco was a solid outfielder for the Phillies in 1960. He wasn't overly spectacular in any one area of the game, but a very serviceable center fielder who didn't hurt you with the bat or the glove. That's a valuable player.

    However, after a relatively slow start in 1961, the Phillies decided to take a gamble and go for some upside. They traded Del Greco to the Kansas City Athletics for outfielder and pinch-hitter extraordinaire Wes Covington.

    It proved to be a worthwhile gamble for the Phillies. Covington would spend five seasons with the club and post an OPS of .814 while hitting 61 home runs.

Hegan to the Phillies

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    Grade: D

    Jim Hegan wasn't much of a household name outside of Cleveland during his playing days and never will be, but if he was anything, it was a solid back-up catcher.

    The Phillies acquired him from the Detroit Tigers in July of 1958 for a minor leaguer by the name of John Turk. It wasn't much of a haul for the Tigers, but Hegan didn't do much for the Phillies.

    He posted an OPS of just .592 and was gone within a year.

Clark to the Senators

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    Grade: F

    Remember Mel Clark?

    Me neither, so I didn't expect you to.

    Clark spent five seasons with the Phillies from 1951-55. He was a solid right fielder who didn't do too much with the bat and could handle the outfield, but that was about it.

    Clark didn't play in 1956, but that didn't stop the Phillies from trading him. They sent him to the Washington Senators for a player to be named later, eventually, Roy Hawes.

    Hawes played in a grand total of three games in his MLB career, none of which were for the Phillies.

Donnelly to the Phillies

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    Grade: C

    I'm not sure how you get the nickname of "Blix," but there must be some kind of neat story behind that for Sylvester Urban Donnelly, a former Phillies right-handed pitcher.

    Donnelly came over to the Phillies from the St. Louis Cardinals and would eventually be a part of that fabled "Whiz Kids" roster in 1950.

    He pitched for five seasons in Philadelphia and posted an ERA of 3.64.