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 1947 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Duffie….Bedard’s mental makeup is kinda weird. Not that he’s really surly or anything…..just sort of in ihis own world and maybe not a real team player. Does that make him bad?? Not necessarily. His record speaks for itself….AND….I have to wonder if playing for a true contender might just be what he needs. I mean, Baltimore and Seattle over the past few years haven’t exactly been the most positve stops for him. If we could get him for the right price then I wouold be interested as well.

  • Posts: 0 Michael N.

    I would honestly trade the single-a team clearwater for Roy Halladay thats how much i want him on this team but all and all its a pipe dream.

  • Posts: 0 Michael N.

    I wonder if you go up JP and say pick 4 or 5 players not named Drabek Savery and Taylor. Then do you think he would do it.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Erik Bedard might be a little nuts.. but he’s somehow managed to rock a 2.47 ERA this year… i’ll take that

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    He might not do it for 4 or 5 players on our Major League roster!

    He’s arguably the best pitcher in baseball.. they have two other good starters that have been injured this year.. the only way to beat the Yankees or RedSox is with pitching.. so why on Earth would the Blue Jays trade Halladay??

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Yeah….and Bedard isn’t a flash in the pan either. He’s a proven commodity. That 2.47 isn’t a fluke.

  • Posts: 0 Michael N.

    ok this what i would trade for Halladay: Mayberry, Donald, Marson, Knapp, Worley, Zagurski, and that SS i forgot his name. in the Single A i believe. 7 FOR 1!!!!

  • Posts: 0 Michael N.

    Hey since were trying to unload prospects for Halladay why not get BJ RYAn while were at it ahhaa.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Listen up everyone….The Blue Jays are NOT going to deal Halladay. Just stop all the trade talk in that direction…it’s pointless. He’s their ONLY real hope of winning anything this year and it won’t happen…..unless somehow the Jays are 20 games out on July 25th and that’s probably not gonna happen either. They’re a decent team that has a chance of competing in the AL.

  • Posts: 0 Michael N.

    Yea but though you thinK JP would turn down

    7 for 1 seems fair to me!

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    That’s a stupid move for them and I can’t see Ruben making THAT deal either. At some point common sense has to take over.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    I think we can rule out the Pirates pitchers. Giving up their lone all-star Mclouth to Atlanta already angered their tiny fan base. I think losing Duke or Malholm would be the final straw for theses die hards Unless their GM wants to lose the little returns they get from these ticket sales they’ll hang on to their pitchers.

  • Posts: 0 The Little Guy

    Roy Halladay headed to the 15 day DL Thursday due to strained right groin.

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    Chuck: I know it, even if Halladay was on the market he’d probably be be in pinstripes of a different hue than red: dark blue. Aside from that, groin injuries are like oblique injuries…a prelude to the sportman’s hernia…too much a gamble…if I wanted damaged goods (what pitcher isn’t) I’d Webb but even that’s not going to happen. What do you think about Haren….whatever prospect package we’d come up with I think we’d have to include Happ and/or Werth/Victorino….I don’t like trading proven position players for pitchers….I believe pitchers have the some of the highest failure rates among team sport athletes.

  • Posts: 0 psujoe

    I just went through every pitcher on every team. It looks to me it’s either Lee or Bedard and Bedard is a rental with mental issues. Lee doesn’t make alot of money and is back so they may keep him and deal in 2010. So, whoever we get we’re going to have to over pay. What do you guys think it would take to get Lee and get him now?

  • Posts: 0 The Little Guy

    Reed…the d-backs gave up 6 player/prospects for Haren and signed him to a contract extension, he’s not going to be traded.

  • Posts: 0 Steve.M.

    Bedard is on the 15 day dl. Please do not consider him, please.

  • Posts: 0 William of Schuylkill County

    Halladay and Bedard and Peavy all on DL…guess those three are out.

  • Posts: 0 FillyP

    Haven’t heard anyone mention him here, but what about Fausto Carmona? His name’s been floating around a bit..

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