Phillies Need Elite In Arms’ Race

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, June 17, 2009 11:30 AM | Comments: 69
Analysis, Posts

So the Phillies need a big-time pitcher.

Who would sell and has valuable pitching?

The Indians, Orioles and Mariners figure to be sellers in the American League. The National League is harder to gauge, but I’ll predict Ed Wade’s Astros will at least think about it. As will the Rockies, Padres, Pirates and Reds. The Nationals, obviously, will be in selling mode, but have no pitching to sell. The Marlins do have pitching to sell, but likely want to hold onto their young staff.

Add the already-known quotients of Roy Halladay and Brad Penny, and we have some names with which to work. They are:

Roy Halladay, Jake Peavy, Roy Oswalt, Erik Bedard, Cliff Lee, Aaron Harang, Jarrod Washburn, Jeremy Guthrie, Wandy Rodriguez, Chris Young, Zach Duke, Paul Maholm, Aaron Cook, Jason Marquis, Bronson Arroyo and Brad Penny.

Let’s look at this list quickly. If I’m general manager of the Phillies, I need an arm that can pitch at the expected level of Cole Hamels. As we know, Ruben Amaro Jr. even said that — he wants a top-level arm. So say goodbye to Penny, Arroyo, Marquis, Cook, Maholm, Duke and Young. The latter three were a tough elimination, but to me, Maholm is comparable to Joe Blanton, Duke’s success is of a short sample and Young hasn’t been very effective in a few years.

To be short, the Phillies need a big-time performer. Here’s who remains:

Wandy Rodriguez
Age: 30 / Under contract: 2009-11 (arb. 2)
Rodriguez is a strikeout left-hander who’s carrying a 3:1 K:BB ratio this season. He strikes batters out with a devastating curveball; that means he’s quite susceptible to fly balls (nearing 40 percent fly balls this season). He also has two years of arbitration remaining, so the Astros have some leverage if they wanted to deal him; Ed Wade has been said to want to hold him, too.
Verdict: Might cost too much for a guy who could see his ERA rise at the fly-friendly Bank. Pass.

Jeremy Guthrie
Age: 30 / Under contract: 2009-12 (arb. 3)
A fastball-slider righty who had a few strong years, but has crashed to Earth this season with the Orioles, Guthrie’s ERA is over 5.00. Why? He’s giving up almost two home runs per nine innings with his over-40 percent fly ball rate. Moreover, he’s a control pitcher and isn’t getting ground balls like he could in the past.
Verdict: Another one with arbitration years, Guthrie isn’t worth the trouble. There might be something much more wrong with him, anyway. Pass.

Jarrod Washburn
Age: 34 / Under contract: 2009
Washburn is having a good season after a few league-average years in Seattle, but he’s struggled as the season has wore on. Moreover, he’s bad in the fifth and sixth innings, and against the following teams: Colorado, Texas, Anaheim, while he’s great against inexperienced offenses (Baltimore, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Minnesota). Small sample, sure, but in a way, reminiscent of Jamie Moyer.
Verdict: He’s only worth a half season, but the Phils need more than a second Moyer. Pass.

Aaron Harang
Age: 31 / Under contract: 2009-11 (opt.)
Harang is having a better ERA season than last, but his numbers are deceiving. His fly ball percentage is near 42, while he’s giving up a nice share of hits. That might be due to his defense — his opponents BABIP is a very high .327. He might improve, but it’s possible he’s just fooling everyone right now. He has a long contract still, too.
Verdict: The Reds would want a good chunk for Harang, who is practically Brett Myers V2. There’s better ahead, pass.

Cliff Lee
Age: 30 / Under contract: 2009-10 (opt.)
The lefty and former Cy Young award winner is sizzling again: A 2.88 ERA in the American League. He has strong ground ball rates (43 percent), while his .337 BABIP says he’s not getting great luck. That might improve with the Phillies infield behind him. One downfall this season — he’s been bad against Texas, Toronto and Cincinnati, all strong offenses.
Verdict: Cleveland would want a small bounty, but Lee is affordable and very good. He is a lefty, but he would still look good with Hamels. Consider.

Erik Bedard
Age: 30 / Under contract: 2009
Another left-handed pitcher, Bedard is having a good season with the Mariners. He’s still a big strikeout pitcher (8.91 per nine), though keeping fly ball rates high (40 percent). But he’s also throwing a lot of grounders. He’s been very good at Safeco and in two starts at Networks Associates Coliseum, two huge pitchers’ parks. He is a free agent after 2009, though, so he wouldn’t be worth much.
Verdict: Compare him to Lee, and I’d rather go with the Indian. Bedard still strikes me as dangerous in hitters’ parks, especially with his penchant for fly balls. Consider, but be cautious.

Roy Oswalt
Age: 31 / Under contract: 2009-12 (opt.)
First off, Oswalt is only 31. That’s true. That said, Oswalt is having a weird season. His ERA is at 4.37 and he’s throwing far too few ground balls, coming in at about 39 percent. He averages near 50 percent per season. But even if Oswalt is struggling, he’s a very good pitcher capable of dominance. And it looks as if he’s improving as the season continues. He has a big contract, however, and word is the Astros want to keep him. But Oswalt would move, and only to the National League, very likely.
Verdict: Keep an eye on him. I’d take him over Lee and Bedard, but he’d be worth a ton.

Jake Peavy
Age: 28 / Under contract: 2009-13
Though Peavy has a higher ERA than usual (3.97), he’s averaging better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s allowing 40 percent fly balls this season, but he remains a solid ground ball guy. He rejected a deal to the White Sox, and most believe he wants to remain in the National League and close to San Diego. There have been rumors to Chicago and Atlanta, though. Moreover, there is talk he wouldn’t want to come to an East Coast pressure cooker.
Verdict: Can’t say Peavy would love to come to Philadelphia. I see him in Los Angeles or Atlanta, really. I’d still rather go with Oswalt.

Roy Halladay
Age: 32 / Under contract: 2009-10
Doc Halladay is clearly the best pitcher in baseball. He has struck out 88 and walked 12. He’s a ground ball master and rarely gives up fly balls, even in the home-run hitter’s haven in which he plays. Of course, JP Ricciardi has said the Blue Jays won’t win and can’t win without Halladay, so prying him loose would be tough. But, really, if the Jays want to compete in the tough AL East, it might be worth it to finally deal their most prized possession.
Verdict: Go. Go. Go.

Final verdict

Look, there is one goal: Win another championship. Nothing else will suffice, and at this point, there’s no looking back. To do such, the Phillies need a starting pitcher capable of dominating every outing he works. There are few out there capable, but the Phillies have some tools with which to work.

Halladay is the interesting case. The Blue Jays are trapped in the AL East and will not contend unless they overhaul their roster. They’re a good team, sure, but not good enough for even third place there. They must rebuild, and they must start by dealing Halladay. Not to their own division. Not to the American League, even. That leaves — to me — three teams with sufficient young talent and buyer’s mentality for Halladay: San Francisco, Los Angeles and the Phillies.

Halladay should be the goal, even if it takes a few top prospects. If he’s really untouchable, the Phils should look at Oswalt, then Peavy, Lee and Bedard, in that order. I could definitely see the Phils ending up with Bedard, honestly, but they should shoot higher. There’s no reason not to go for Halladay.

Avatar of Tim Malcolm

About Tim Malcolm

Tim Malcolm has written 1948 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 pb

    I’d trade the farm for Halladay, but if the Jays decide not to trade him do you think Gil Meche could be had? The Royals aren’t goning to win this year and probably not next year either. After this season he has 2yrs 24mil owed to him.

    Think they would take 2 of Marson, Donald, Mayberry plus 2 pitchers Carassco, and somebody not named Drabek, Knapp, Bastardo, Savery?

    For Meche, and mediocre player (bench bat or reliever)

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    1. Halladay

    2. Lee
    3. Bedard

  • Posts: 0 The Southpaw

    It’s probably not smart to mortgage the farm for any of these guys because some of these young guys could be studs. The problem is the Phillies need to become even stronger at developing pitching.
    Which former Phillie made the Southpaw’s list of the best facial hair of all time?
    Was it Schmidt?
    Was it Kruk?
    Was it Lefty?

  • Posts: 0 JeffS

    Hallady –

    That’s what makes last night more irritating. The odds of getting Halladay, as slim as they are, would be increased if we could have started getting the Jays knocked out of contention and turn them into sellers.

  • Posts: 0 pb

    ps “The Pen” is on again today at 1pm on the MLB Network

  • Posts: 0 Justin

    Bedard shouldn’t even be on their radar. With input from our assistant GMs and people who have coached Bedard with the Phillies such as Benny Looper, Sam Perlozzo they have to be giving the input and if the Phils haven’t acquired him or made it common knowledge they want him he’s not coming here, nor should he, he’s a glass house and can’t take the heat of a pennant race, he’d crack under the pressure. STAY AWAY FROM BEDARD!

  • Posts: 0 Buffalophilsfan

    I still like Zach Duke from Pittsburgh if we cannot get Halladay from the Jays (and I don’t think they would move him). Hate Bedard, don’t like Peavy and Penny is a Blanton clone. Oswalt is interesting, but comes with a heafty price tag. The only arm I would mortgage it all for is Halladay.

    A 2nd tier guy is what the Phills have traditionally gone for and I see this year as no different. The best of that bunch is Duke. The guy eats innings and has great stuff. He is young and under contract … would not cost a ton in return. This is the guy Amaro should be looking at (I think Lee is similar to Duke just with more press clippings and fanfare).

  • Posts: 0 OZ

    Sell the farm for Halliday. You never know which prospects will work out and which ones won’t (I believe Ryan Howard was a 4th round pick, while guys like Tim Moss and Michael Costanzo were 1st or 2nd).

    Do it Ruben.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Has anyone actually watched a full Bedard start? Hes good until he hits 100 pitches, then he COMPLETELY melts down, puts runners on base and they have to call to the bullpen.

    If Oswalt is actually available you have to consider him. IF Halladay is available then thats your guy at ANY cost. I cant see those two being available.

    Maybe Cliff Lee would be ok but its ANOTHER lefty.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    I still think its too many left-handers. 3 is ok..4 plays into the hands of RH power teams like the Cubs.

  • Posts: 0 CT

    Peavy is a huge question mark at this point since he’s injured. He may be out for a month or more. I wouldn’t make a run for him.

  • Posts: 0 The Don

    What about Matt Cain? The Giants aren’t going anywhere and they need some hitters. Maybe we could make a deal without giving up too much pitching.

  • Posts: 0 JeffS

    # The Don Says:
    June 17th, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    “What about Matt Cain? The Giants aren’t going anywhere and they need some hitters. Maybe we could make a deal without giving up too much pitching.”

    Interesting thought. I’d rather give one of our pitchers than give up Taylor.

  • Posts: 0 Jason

    Um, Peavy has a torn ligament in his ankle and will be out for 6-12 weeks. He hasn’t pitched that great this season anyway, so it could be the beginning of the end for him. PASS

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Moyer is due tonight too, and for the rest of IL play. Prediction: 3.1 IP, 9 H, 8 ER, 3 BB, 1 K

    by the end of IL play youll be talking about how we need two starters instead of one….play times over guys, they need a FULL arsenal going into the playoffs. If get one, maybe two starters. One good one decent, a POWER arm for the bullpen in a walk year, because they may not have enough power arms back there given the injuries weve seen this year. They also need a RH utility player with some pop…


    SP 1: Best guy you can get
    SP 2: If Moyer starts sucking again: get Marquis/Cook to stabilize that bottom part of the rotation.
    RP: Power arm, utility bullpen guy who can succeed in a variety of roles.
    RH UT: DeRosa, Baker, Spillborghs, etc. best affordable guy you can get who does well coming off the bench.

    thatll cost a lot of prospects, but this team is set for 2-3 years mostly anyway and a LOT of good prospects and good arms will be blocked. Without such moves youll have good pitchers still in the minors wasting away at age 27 wondering why theyre not in the majors.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    The Giants are OVER .500 last I checked. Theyre a good team, they are looking to BUY, not SELL. Matt Cain is not available. Jonathan Sanchez is their trade chip.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    The Giants are 1 game back of the Wild Card lead. They’ll be looking to add, not subtract, at the deadline. Plus, they want a major league all-star like Prince Fielder for Matt Cain. Forget about Matt Cain.

  • Posts: 0 boxage

    i’m salivating at the idea of getting Halladay

  • Posts: 0 pb

  • Posts: 0 William of Schuylkill County

    I like the idea of Buffalophilsfan… Dipping into MLB’s Farm Team the Pirates… only thing about Duke or Maholm both are a lefties…we have 3/4 already in the rotation…need some balance L/R/L/R/L…at least thats most tradition baseball thinking…

  • Posts: 0 An Honest Mets Fan

    I am not one of these childish Met fans that come on here and say stupid stuff. I am honest about the division. We are three games back. I cant be to upset because Reyes and Delgado are down. I thought we would be ten back. The Phillies offense scares that crap out of me. So dominating from 1 through 8. There pitching on the other hand does not. I love facing Moyer, Blanton, etc. Cole is a very good pitcher but not great. He is very hittable and gets down on himself. I think all these blown saves could catch up to the Phillies. Remember last year you just pulled it out and your closer was perfect. We shall see.

  • Posts: 0 The Don

    Well, forget about Halladay. When have the Phillies EVER traded for a superstar pitcher? Answer: 37 years ago. At best they will land Cliff Lee and even then I would be shocked.

  • Posts: 0 Jeff H

    You are high if you think the Blue Jays will trade Halladay for minor league players. Howard would have to be thrown into the trade for that to happen, and the Jays do not want to be paying Howard. Halladay will not happen, you have a better shot at Cliff Lee.

  • Posts: 0 BS

    Considering it took Outman, Cardenas and Spencer to get a mid-level guy like Blanton, I don’t know how any of you guys think we can afford to get an ace and relief help, not to mention a RH utility guy and another possible SP.

    If we can make a move for a guy like Oswalt or Halladay, that’d be great, but I don’t think we have the chips to do so, at least not without costing us someone from our starting lineup.

    As much as we might like Taylor, Carrasco, Donald and co., the only guy who’s ranked top 50 (at least by Baseball America) is Dominic Brown. And he’s only #48.

    I’d actually like a guy like Maholm. May not have high upside, but he’s much more of a groundball pitcher than Blanton, keeps the ball in the park and eats up innings. Would be a solid #3, IMO. Meche would be nice, because he’s somewhat of a power arm, but I keep thinking of him (maybe unfairly) as somewhat of a headcase from his days in Seattle.

  • Posts: 0 The Dispy

    As I see it, there are two approaches the Phils can take and there lies a tension between the two:

    1) Don’t give up the crown jewels of the farm system because we need them them to fuel the team in the furure, AND:
    2) The time to win is now and do what ya gotta do.

    Hmmmmm. I can see how reasonable minds can differ as to what to do. What I don’t wanna see the Phils do is half ass it. If I have to seea scecond tier guy (Cook, Marquis), I would prefer they come over as a second acquisition behind a Halladay or Lee or Oswalt and not as the only thing they do. That would be bad.

    I would prefer they take the shot this year. I know Halladay would cost a boatload and it will include Drabek and Brown. But if you do it, you’re set for 5 years at the 1-2 starter position. Really something to think about.

    The Dispy

    “Always striving to make the Phillies a better team”.

  • Posts: 0 William of Schuylkill County

    I think if we go for a second tier guy we need to find a guy who can get it done like Blanton did and Loshe before him.

    Not a deal like Adam Eaton(who at the time was a young up and coming pitching prospect..he was productive in SD for a few years) for an Andy Ashby…

    I don’t see a win situation with MOST of the second tier guys except a Duke or Maholm maybe Penny or Marquis even Arroyo but none of the other guys.

    Lee, Halladay or Oswalt would all be fine choices as everyone says but the others I wouldn’t deal for…Peavy is hurt.

    And the likelihood of us out bidding for those 3 guys is not likely.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Washburn or Marquis might be “Best Available”

    Cliff Lee only makes like $9 M next year, so they might not trade him

    Roy Halladay is the Blue Jays only chance to win anything, so they are crazy if they give him up.

    Peavy and Oswalt both dont want to leave where they are..

    Reports have said the Phillies are “leery” of adding Bedard (according to a Heyman source)

    I wonder what Harang would cost? I kinda doubt they’ll move him considering they are above .500 .. and he is 3rd in Wins, 2nd in ERA, 1st in K’s on their team.. and Cueto and Volquez don’t seem ready to lead that staff yet..

    It will come down to “Best Available” and probably another month before teams decide if they are going to BUY -or- SELL

  • Posts: 0 A.J.

    Ummm, Giants are 0.5 games back from the Wildcard. Matt Cain is not being moved. Cliff Lee or Aaron Harang – if the Reds will part with him.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    You dont give up drabek or brown because you have halladay for two years after this (i think, maybe only one), not 5.

    i REALLY doubt theyre trading him…seriously. that would be CRAZY.

    houston has to know the only chance they have to field a winning ateam sometime soon is to move roy oswalt and get a few good prospects for him.

  • Posts: 0 Steve-o

    I just can’t see them moving Halladay, I really can’t. I think of it like a dream at the moment.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    The Giants have used Aaron Rowan in the leadoff spot… I think any trade with them would take Shane Victorino in return… a Leadoff hitter with good all-around skills

    Probably Vic plus a low pitching prospect for Cain..

    I don’t see anything like that happening on our end.. or theirs

  • Posts: 0 Maverick

    If your going to have to give up someone i think Werth has good trade value… i wouldnt want to give up Vic.

    Werth and a few top line prospects for a guy like halladay might* fly…

  • Posts: 0 beta sigma shag

    Geoff, you really need to get of the I hate Moyer routine, he has had 3 really good starts in a row, now he is due for a bad one. He has said all along that he needed to fix something and he will be fine, I think he figured it out. The guy 16 games last year, might he get hit hard tonight, maybe, but why so negitive on the guy. He has giving up what 2 or 3 runs last 3 starts pitching at least 6 if not 7 innings, quality starts that stat you seem to love. I think you need some help with your hate.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    All kidding aside, he had a few pretty good starts in a row. but theres no way hes THAT good (like he was last year) again, his carreer averages dont indicate that this trend will hold…so yes hes due to get lit up a lot in the next few weeks.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I’m guessing that Victorino would be:

    More desirable around the league..


    Less important to OUR lineup.. (Werth could play CF.. and he’s our only RH power bat)

    But.. nothing like that is going to happen, so we should stop that trade-talk before it gets going.

  • Posts: 0 ecp

    I live in KC and can tell you that, unless Gil Meche’s feeling have changed, I doubt he can be had. He has a full no-trade and has said many times that he’s not interested in waiving it.

    I’d also have to say that he’s about the farthest thing from a head case that I can imagine. I think the rep he got for that in Seattle was because when he had shoulder problems they could never find structural issues on his MRIs. So everybody decided that it had to be all in his head. But when they actually did exploratory surgery, the found that he had a frayed labrum.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    I have a man crush on Cliff Lee. He has a 2.88 ERA this season. I think he’s clearly better and much less expensive than Oswalt and Peavy. Bedard is really talented, but missed his last start and is supposedly mentally fragile.

    Dominic Brown and Michael Taylor are good prospects, but their ceilings are that of a Jayson Werth-type player. I’d definitely give them up for a front-line starter while the Phillies’ window of opportunity is still open.

  • Posts: 0 Brett

    You really think that Brown and Taylor’s celings are at Werth level? Not that Werth’s level is at all shabby, but I’ve seen some people label them as future superstars. I could see trading one away, but certainly not both.

    As we get closer to the trade deadline, the selling prices get lower and lower. I really think we might end up getting a pretty good front end starter.

    It’s all speculation though, after all.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Brett, I believe I read that either at PhuturePhillies or from Kevin Goldstein at Baseball Prospectus. When comparing them to Werth, they meant ’08/’09 Werth, not Werth’s injury-plagued career. I was surprised to hear the Werth comparisons, but the point is that these are not sure-fire slam dunk all-stars, like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels were when they were in the minor leagues.

  • Posts: 0 JeffS

    Griffin, I think Taylor has the potential to be a better hitter than Werth, and has the same arm. Of course, not all potential is realized. Maybe I’ve just watched him too much.

    Also, I think the guy who first brought up Cain was making a prediction that the Giants weren’t going anywhere, and therefore that they will not be right at the wild card at the trade deadline.

  • Posts: 0 Daniel Murphy

    peavy is not going to the phillies get over it….. the metsies will win this thing even though were without our ss, cleanup hitter, setup man, billy, perez, maine, pagan, etc. ya gotta believe. Let’s go Mets!!!!!!!!

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    JeffS, I hope you’re right about Taylor, who is tearing it up at Reading.

  • Posts: 0 ryan

    what about Paul Maholm from the Pirates? he’s a good pitcher and they could always use minor league prospects

  • Posts: 0 JeffS

    I hope I am, too. He is fun to watch.

  • Posts: 0 JeffS

    I thought the Pirates already had a good farm system. Oh, that’s the Pirates. Bad joke….long day.

  • Posts: 0 JeffS

    If the Nats and the Harrisburg Senators switched uniforms, would anyone know the difference?

  • Posts: 0 joedad

    I think alot of Phillies fans overvalue the Phils prospects. There is potential there but no bona-fide stars. Even so certain future stars dont always work out. I don’t think we have the depth to trade for a top 2 rotation starter nor do i think we need to. However we need a veteran starter sometime soon. Another Blanton could be all we need to repeat.

    By the way, never start a sentence with the word ‘umm. It makes you sound dummmm.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Harrisburg Senators probably play much, much better defense in the outfield!

  • Posts: 0 Duffie_D

    Halladay will not be available, and if the Jays are stupid enough to trade him, they deserve to have their franchise revoked. He is the best pitcher in baseball.

    If the Indians end up out of it, Lee looks extremely enticing.

    Peavy, in case you didn’t know, is hurt, and wouldn’t waive his no-trade to come to the Phils anyway. I wish people would stop talking about him and move on.

    I’m not crazy about what I hear about Bedards’s mental makeup, but otherwise I am interested.

  • Posts: 0 Duffie_D

    Oh, and Oswalt; even if he is only 31, it has looked to me over the past couple seasons that he is on the decline. I am wary.

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