Overshadowed by their recent seven-game winning streak is the fact that the Philadelphia Phillies are on the market for a desperately needed starting pitcher. The recent injury and possible season-ending surgery to starter Brett Myers has left a hole in the rotation that the Phillies need to fill if they are going to successfully defend their World Series title.
Lots of speculation has been running rampant about who the Phillies are interested in acquiring. There is Jake Peavy, who the Padres have been trying to unload since the offseason, Erik Bedard, and, more recently, rumors of Roy Oswalt have popped up.
I think most Phillies fans would be excited if they woke up one morning to hear on Sportscenter that the Phillies had acquired Jake Peavy. I am not one of those fans. Peavy has no desire to go to a big market team.
I’m not sure if that is because he prefers to stay away from the constant rush of a town like New York, Chicago, or Philadelphia or because he is worried about dealing with the added pressure and constant media attention of playing in a town that expects to win. It is worrisome that it could be the latter.
Peavy is pitching in quite possibly the most pitcher-friendly park and worst offensive division in all of Major League Baseball. Yet, his ERA for the 2009 season is 4.10. Move him to the NL East and Citizens Bank Park and we may see his ERA jump close to 5.00 or higher.
Erik Bedard might be made available by Seattle if the Mariners continue to fall out of contention. Currently, they are only 5.5 games out of first place. They could find themselves to be sellers by the end of June.
However, it has been documented by others that Bedard can be a cancer in the clubhouse. Although, I think the Phillies have enough strong personalities in the locker room to keep him in check, there is no need to take the risk on Bedard. Not to mention, they would also probably have to give up quite a bit for a lefty of his potential.
I have always been a big fan of Roy Oswalt. I think he is one of the best young pitchers in baseball, but is he really available? It seems unlikely to me. Houston owner Drayton McLane is a big fan of Oswalt. Most speculate that there is about a zero chance of McLane agreeing to deal Oswalt.
The Phillies could look internally for help. In AAA, they have Kyle Kendrick and Carlos Carrasco as possible options.
Kendrick is 4-4 with a 4.05 ERA in 11 starts for Lehigh Valley. He has pitched pretty well at times this season, but the organization would like him to remain in AAA and continue to develop his offspeed pitches.
Carrasco is considered to be the Phillies top minor league pitching prospect. His transition to AAA in 2009 has been a shaky road so far. He has posted a 5.14 ERA in 11 starts. Although he has struggled, he also has struck out 63 batters in 61 innings, demonstrating some of his electric stuff. All signs say that he is not ready for the big show just yet.
Rookie Anthony Bastardo was pulled up from AA to make his Major League debut earlier this week and pitched a great game, admittedly against the offensively challenged San Diego Padres. In AA, he was converted from the bullpen to a starter and made 5 starts. He posted a 1.82 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 34.2 innings of work.
The Phillies could choose to roll the dice with Bastardo and hope they catch lighting in a bottle for the rest of the season, similar to what Kyle Kendrick gave them in 2007 when he went 10-4 in 20 starts for Philly. Most likely, the Phillies will give Bastardo a couple of starts and see what he gives them.
If Bastardo proves not to be the answer, the Phillies are going to need to make a trade. The question is, with who?
There is one potential trading partner that nobody is talking about yet that could be a very viable option, the Baltimore Orioles.
The Orioles have some good young arms in their system, but there is a veteran on their team that could make a lot more sense for the Phillies. That player is Jeremy Guthrie. This season he has posted a 4.86 ERA in 11 starts. Last season he finished 10-12 with a 3.63 ERA. The O’s are playing in possibly the best offensive division in baseball. Move Guthrie to the National League and he might thrive.
The Orioles have a future need at third base with Melvin Mora nearing the end of his career. The Phillies could offer a deal involving Jason Donald. The deal makes sense for both teams. Donald is blocked for at least one more year in the Phillies organization, and if Pedro Feliz continues to hit, possibly longer.
A deal involving Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Donald as the centerpieces would give the Phillies a solid starter in their rotation to replace Myers and wouldn’t cost as many prospects as Peavy, Bedard, or Oswalt would.