With just over one week until Major League Baseball’s trade deadline, Phillies fans hang on every word of the most knowledgeable individual in the business. His name?
A Team Source with Close Knowledge of the Talks (ATSWCKOFT)
And while we have never seen or heard this individual, he seems to update us daily on the Phillies’ pursuit of the player that could turn this season-long slog into another Pennant dash. His most recent job has been to gather solid details on the Phillies’ pursuit of another lights-out starting pitcher (read: Roy Oswalt or Dan Haren).
Each perusal of ATSWCKOFT’s latest “rumors”, “trade buzz”, or “MLB rumblings” column brings with it the vision of a starting rotation featuring Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and an additional Cy-Young caliber weapon. If ATSWCKOFT’s information is credible, and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Junior can make his third blockbuster deal in one calendar year, the Fightins could be nearly impossible to beat in a playoff series.
No wonder we love the trade deadline so much. It is baseball’s limited time offer to fix whatever ails a bad team.
Unfortunately for the 2010 Phillies, this limited time offer promises to be as effective as the cleaning solution that was supposed to remove ink, blood, and lipstick from a shirt simply by adding it to a bucket of water (and one seriously stained shirt!).
The offensive woes of the Phillies have been well documented. The team that always had life as long as it had one more at-bat has turned into a team of called third strikes and lazy fly balls. They have scored 3 or fewer runs in 47 of their first 95 games. They are tied for 22nd in the majors in batting average, and are 13th in runs scored. And perhaps the most glaring statistic of all: they’re on pace to be shut out a staggering 13 times.
So does Roy Oswalt turn this team around? At least he could commiserate with Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels when he holds an opponent scoreless into the ninth inning and is still locked in a tie game.
But a starting pitcher may end up being the Phillies only option. In looking at the team’s offensive eight, it is hard to envision a way for Ruben Amaro to make meaningful changes to the team’s roster. Let’s look at why:
Ryan Howard (1B): Team’s best player is not going anywhere
Chase Utley (2B): Currently known as Wilson Valdez/Cody Ransom, but Chase will not be back until late August and Amaro won’t add a great infielder for a six week stretch
Jimmy Rollins (SS): Batting .227 and certainly not being traded
Placido Polanco (3B): Having a very nice season at the plate despite team’s struggles
Raul Ibanez (LF): Not movable due to age, production, and awful contract
Shane Victorino (CF): Is marketable, but unlikely to be traded as a gold glover and affordable centerfielder
Jayson Werth (LF): The Phils would love to package him for a starter, opening the door for top prospect Domonic Brown
Carlos Ruiz (C): Having a fine season, handles pitchers very well, ultra-affordable contract
So, it appears that the offensive eight of the Phillies, while stagnant, is largely static. That is, of course, with the exception of Jayson Werth.
Werth is certainly the team’s tradable commodity, and our good friend ATSWCKOFT has repeatedly told us that a number of contending teams are interested in renting him for the final three months of the season. His trade would provide the starting pitcher the Phillies covet, either directly or through the flipping of some prospects.
If the Phillies do manage to complete a deal like this, they will pursue the season’s final sixty games with the fearsome top three starting pitchers that were mentioned earlier. However, the only change to their anemic offense would be the replacement of their bearded left fielder with the 22-year old minor league phenom Domonic Brown.
Considering that Brown has spent one month above the AA level, and has never had an official major league at-bat, this does not seem like the trade deadline plan sure to save the Phillies season.
As July 31st rapidly approaches, Phillies fans will still log on, tune in, or open their papers to check for any source of hope that the deadline could bring. The sad reality is that a trade will not make a significant change to what they are watching on the field each day.