Brown and Ibanez will be better in the second half
The Phillies are approaching the annual mid-season fork in the road known as the July 31st trade deadline with many options as they have had in previous years. The team finds themselves with the best record in baseball, but still has an under achieving offense.
Unlike previous years at the deadline, the Phillies are actually playing good baseball, and a mid-season move is not as essential as it was for the past three years when they traded for Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt.
This year's deadline is not going to make or break the season as it did in recent history.
Ruben Amaro Jr. is left to decide whether plucking a bat from a non-contending team outweighs all the negatives that would come as a result.
Even though this deadline doesn't have as much significance to the Phillies as it does for other contending teams, Amaro can't afford to make the wrong choices because he already has enough to win.
The trades for Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt have depleted the Phillies farm system enough that there isn't much major league talent in their higher levels. That being said, recent drafts have revived the lower levels of the Phillies farm system, which is now loaded with rare jewels.
Most of these future stars are in Single-A, and a handful of them have been recently promoted. All in all, these future Phillies will most likely be major league ready in three or four years.
By 2013 or 2014, most of the Phillies stars now will be past their prime. Everyone is talking about how much more of a window these current players have to win is, and there is only a few more years left.
But by this time, as the Ryan Howards and Chase Utelys are getting old and tired, they will be able to pass the keys of the car to players like Jonathan Singleton and Sabastian Valle, and the Phillies will be able to start their engine back up like they did at the beginning of these recent playoff runs.
Aces will be replaced by aces, and this new young and exciting Phillies staff will feature futures game winner Jarred Cosart, right-hander Trevor May, youngster Jesse Biddle, and electric arm Brody Colvin.
Trading for a rental player in 2011 will potentially ruin the Phillies' chances of turning this current five year run into a true dynasty.
Trading for an experienced bat will only make the Phillies old lineup even older. One of the flaws that has kept the Phillies offense from performing like they have in the past is the fact that it is one of the oldest in the league.
The only way to make this lineup younger and more energetic is to let young guys such as John Mayberry and Domonic Brown get their at-bats. In order for these players to continue developing their major league careers they need to get more and more big league experience.
Not only will this be a good move for the lineup now, but the future Phillies will benefit more by having youth with more experience.
Domonic Brown is hitting .310 with a .396 OBP in July so it is obvious that he is improving as the season goes on. He has cut down on his strikeouts with only 27 so far this season, while he has improved his plate discipline with almost as many walks, at 19.
Benching, sending down to the minors, or even trading Brown would get rid of the one starting position player for the Phillies who is under 30 years old. Brown is a lot cheaper and has way more years under contract than any of the trade options.
This guy has been tearing it up in the minors for too long. Let the kid play, and add excitement to this dull Phillies offense.
Lets look at how some of the players rumored in Phillies trade talks are doing this year:
Josh Willingham- .321 OBP, .244 Avg, 81 strikeouts, 26 walks
Melky Cabrera- .333 OBP, .295 Avg, 59 strikeouts, 23 walks
Ryan Ludwick- .306 OBP, .238 Avg, 78 strikeouts, 31 walks
Now lets look at the players that these trade rumors would be taking the jobs of:
Raul Ibanez- .293 OBP, .249 Avg, 68 strikeouts, 21 walks
Domonic Brown- .322 OBP, .240 Avg, 27 strikeouts, 19 walks
None of the three players rumored in trade talks would be adding much more to the table than the Phillies' current corner outfielders already provide.
Why trade for players that would add 0-1 wins at most to a team that already has players that can do the same thing?
The Phillies don't need an extra supply of bench players come to Philly via Amaro phone calls. All these players will do is sit and wait on their bench, which has already has produced it's share this year.
The 2011 Phillies have good depth at every position that can fill in when the time is needed. Players such as John Mayberry, Ben Francisco, Michael Martinez, and Wilson Valdez have already got extended playing time this year and have filled in with enough production to get the Phillies by.
All 25 players on the Phillies roster can step in at times and be counted on in clutch situation. Early in the season, a wildly debated topic was who would be the man that gets sent to Lehigh Valley once Shane Victorino gets activated onto the Major League roster.
Normally the 25th man on the team doesn't make much of a difference, but when John Mayberry was eventually sent down, there was some dissatisfaction from the fans who liked what the outfielder added to the team, even though he was the last man on the bench.
A trade would bump down everyone on an already deep field of players, and would unnecessarily send players of the same production down to the minors, where they can do no help to the big league squad.
After the Phillies swooped in to sign Cliff Lee in the offseason, Amaro made it clear that the Phillies only had a little more financial flexibility.
The Phillies don't need to go out and spend money on rentals, when it is crucial that they lock up players such as Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson, and Cole Hamels in the future.
However much spending money they have now is irrelevant, because when the time comes, the Phillies need to focus on retaining their star players.
Their back is most likely against the wall as it stands now, and there is no reason to test how much further they can go until they get pinned.
Most people were ready to give up last season on Ibanez and his 38-year-old body after his futile first half. That was until he erupted in the second half, hitting 12 home runs and in two of the three months hitting over .337.
He actually finished the year with a higher average (.275) and OBP (.349) than his tremendous 2009 with the Phillies.
Ibanez is already starting to show his second half stroke coming in this year, after fans anxiously waited for Ibanez to finish his April and June, in which his OBP was .247 and .258.
In July, Ibanez has a .333 Avg and .347 OBP, and he has already ripped four homers in only 11 games. If his trends from last year are again picking up this year, we are in for an exciting second half from our slowly aging left fielder.
The Phillies will most certainly be getting a new player as the season winds down this year, but not in the form of a trade.
The Phillies will be picking up second half Raul Ibanez: the only upgrade they will need.