Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Lessons We Learned About Phils at Trade Deadline
The trade deadline taught us more than just the fact that Ruben Amaro Jr. is relentless when it comes to getting the player he sets out to acquire.
It also taught us that, as a player, when you hear the Phillies are interested, you might as well book a flight to Philadelphia.
For the third consecutive season, Amaro acquired the player he wanted at the deadline.
This season it was Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros.
Next season it may be Peyton Manning.
But, for now, the acquisition of Pence did more than just fulfill the Phillies desire for a right handed batter.
It also taught us some lessons about what the Phillies have planned for this season, and even in the near future.
And that on the 29th, Christmas really does come in July for Phillies fans.
1. The Team Still Has Faith in Domonic Brown
Domonic Brown is like a longtime girlfriend; you really really like him, but you’re just not ready for marriage yet.
In 54 games this season, Brown is batting .246 with 45 hits, five home runs, and 19 RBI.
These numbers are a far stretch from his .348 average while at triple-A Lehigh Valley.
However, he seems to be in good company.
Remember what Chase Utley’s average was during his rookie season?
Mike Schmidt’s rookie average?
Jim Thome’s average through his first two seasons?
And Brown was even batting .296 in the month of July.
With less than 48 hours to go until the trade deadline, Brown’s name started to surface as part of a potential three-team deal in order to acquire outfielder Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros.
It turns out Brown did leave the Phillies prior to the deadline.
He was sent back down to triple-A in order to play every day in left field, as Pence is slotted to be the team’s right fielder for the near future.
However, this demotion in no way means that the Phillies have given up on their former top prospect. In fact, the move to left field means that he is a vital part of their future.
As long as he continues to improve.
His 25 walks this season provide evidence that his eye at the plate is improving.
However, his defensive skills are what need the most work. Playing left field every day in triple-A gives Brown the opportunity to replace Raul Ibanez, who is in the last year of his contract, while taking the 24-year-old out of the spotlight for the time being.
Brown is not done contributing to the team this season, as he will be back in Philadelphia as a September call-up.
He has made it through three seasons of hearing his name mentioned in trade rumors, and was already called up to the majors this season less than 24 hours after general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. said he would not be promoted.
Brown will be back this season and, just like in the past, he’ll be just fine.
2. Ruben Gets What Ruben Wants
Talk about not taking “no” as an answer.
Most people have Valentine’s Day circled on their calendar, or their anniversary.
Amaro has July 29th circled.
For the third straight season, Amaro has gotten his player.
Last season, it was Roy Oswalt and $11 million from the Houston Astros.
And now it’s Hunter Pence.
It seems as if when Amaro calls another team, whoever picks up the phone just says “deal” automatically.
Not only did Amaro acquire Pence at the deadline, but he managed to keep both Domonic Brown and Vance Worley.
And the Phillies haven’t surpassed the luxury tax threshold.
The past three season’s deadline deals do not include an off-season trade for Roy Halladay and last December’s signing of Cliff Lee.
Amaro even has Ed Wade seemingly thinking that he’s still a part of the Phillies organization.
The Phillies are 261-173 since Amaro took over as the team’s general manager following the World Series championship season of 2008.
This season, the Phillies are just the fifth team in baseball history to win at least 16 games in every month of the season, thus far.
Amaro has acquired Cliff Lee twice.
He’s acquired Placido Polanco to replace Pedro Feliz, and Raul Ibanez to replace Pat Burrell.
The one thing he has not obtained, however, is a World Series championship.
If only it could be played on July 29th.
3. Bullpen Additions May Come from In-House Options
From Mike Adams to Leo Nunez, to last second efforts aimed at landing Heath Bell, the Phils seemed to explore every option for improving their bullpen at the deadline.
However, any bullpen additions may come from in-house options.
Rather than trade more prospects in an attempt to improve an already stable bullpen, especially for a two-month rental type player such as Bell, the Phillies may find help in three triple-A relievers.
Phillippe Aumont, Michael Schwimer, and Justin De Fratus have a chance to become September call-ups and even contribute deeper into the season.
Aumont, acquired in the 2009 trade that sent Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners, has a 2.70 ERA in seven games at triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Aumont missed almost a month of the season with a shoulder strain but has 17 strikeouts while walking six batters.
In double-A, Aumont had a 2.32 ERA in 25 games to go with 41 strikeouts to 11 walks.
Schwimer is 7-1 this season with a 1.76 ERA. In 61.1 innings, he has 79 strikeouts to 19 walks.
While left handers are batting .289 against him, right handers have only managed a .140 average.
De Fratus who, like Aumont, began the season in double-A, has a 4.32 ERA along with 30 strikeouts and eight walks.
De Fratus had a 2.10 ERA in double-A, including eight saves.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has expressed concern in the arms of Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo holding up down the stretch.
With the Phillies hard-pressed to acquire any players through waiver deals due to their position in the reverse order of the standings, any relief may have to come from their own system.
However, the Phils seemingly feel as if these arms, as well as the performances of Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, and possibly some young prospects, may be the best option for both the present and the future.
4. Jayson Werth Hasn't Officially Been Replaced Just Yet
The Phillies knew it would be difficult to replace Jayson Werth’s .282 career average with the team, as well as his 547 hits, 95 home runs, and 308 RBI.
But what’s proven most difficult has been finding a player who has felt comfortable batting in the fifth spot in the lineup.
The Phils have used Raul Ibanez, Ben Francisco, Domonic Brown, Placido Polanco, Shane Victorino, John Mayberry, Jr., and Ross Gload in the fifth spot this season.
None have excelled in the spot.
At one point this season, the Phils hitters were batting just .210 from the fifth spot; a far cry from their .307 average last season from the spot.
The signing of Cliff Lee in the off-season took the attention away from Werth’s singing with the Washington Nationals
The Phils success this season made the possibility of adding a right handed bat a desire rather than a necessity.
However, as last week’s series with the San Francisco Giants showed, the Phillies left handed bats were still unprotected in the lineup.
Giant’s pitchers Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum were able to hold Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Ibanez to just two hits in a combined 24 at-bats.
Enter Hunter Pence.
In acquiring Pence, the Phillies may not have only found a right handed bat to balance their lineup, but also a solid hitter for the fifth spot.
And Werth’s official replacement.
If recent performances by Howard and Ibanez are any indication, Pence’s mere presence in the lineup may make the trade a success.
In five games since the trade, Howard and Ibanez have combined for six homers, 15 hits, and 14 RBI.
These six home runs includes Howard's first against a left hander this season.
Forget right field, Pence is doing just fine from the on-deck circle.
5. Phillies Scouting Department Deserves a Lot of Credit
In four separate deals, the Phillies have traded 13 prospects and one player to be named later.
Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor and Travis D’Arnaud were sent to the Toronto Blue Jays for Roy Halladay.
Carlos Carrasco, Jason Knapp, Lou Marson and Jason Donald went to the Cleveland Indians for Cliff Lee.
J.A. Happ, Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar headed to the Houston Astros for Roy Oswalt.
Yet the Phils still had enough prospects for another big deal this season, as Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid and a player to be named later were exchanged for Hunter Pence.
The Phillies farm system must be empty by now, right?
Vance Worley, John Mayberry, Jr., and Domonic Brown have all gone from prospects to either already finding success at the big leagues or on the brink.
And the Phils still have young arms such as Brody Colvin, Trevor May, Jonathan Pettibone, Jesse Biddle and David Buchanan.
Jiwan James, Aaron Altherr and Tyson Gillies are promising young outfielders, and Sebastian Valle has shown great potential behind the plate.
These trades and subsequent restocking of the farm system would not have been possible if not for the work done by the Phillies scouting department and minor league system.
Not only have the Phillies been drafting great prospects, but their coaching staff has also been setting them on the right track.
This track just doesn’t always lead to Philadelphia.