Tuesday was a busy night for the NL East. The Phillies dismantled the Giants thanks to four homers, tremendous defense and the first complete game of Vance Worley‘s promising career. Four hours later, the Braves downed the Pirates on one of the worst calls in major league history. The game went 19 innings, but one error in judgment by a mistaken umpire made the previous 37 half-innings meaningless.
While Jerry Meals’ name will be bandied about as much Wednesday as Carlos Beltran or Hunter Pence, the fact remains that the trade deadline is more important to the Phillies today then this morning’s controversial call. With the story changing every two hours, what do we know?
Well, we know that the Phils have “cooled” significantly on Beltran. That was reported first by Jayson Stark and later confirmed by Ken Davidoff (Newsday) and Joel Sherman (New York Post.) The Mets apparently asked the Phillies for Domonic Brown straight up. Ruben Amaro wisely declined. Sandy Alderson then asked for Jarred Cosart. Amaro again said no.
As of this moment, it appears that the Mets will get much less than anticipated for two months of Beltran. They will not get the sought-after A-level prospect nor will they get a gaggle of high-upside youngsters. Stark opines that the Mets may have to settle for an interesting prospect and some salary relief. Money has not been an issue for the Mets in this particular case (as strange as that may sound.) But with the prospects of a big-time prospect dwindling, saving money might be the best bet.
Watch for the Braves to make a final push at Beltran. They will be without catcher Brian McCann for at least 15 days now, as McCann strained an oblique in last night’s marathon.
Two days ago, the Phillies were out of the Pence sweepstakes and the Astros rightfielder was all but off the market. A day later, the Phillies were once again regarded as his most aggressive pursuer. Pence would work well in Philadelphia, as my brother shrewdly pointed out two months before everyone realized he was on the market. But if the cost is as ridiculous as some have speculated … pass.
There have been nonsensical rumors of Pence for Brown, Cosart and Jonathan Singleton. I wish that everyone who supported that, believed that or didn’t automatically dismiss it could be thrown in a duffel bag and shipped to Easter Island to learn the basics of common sense. An organization does not trade its top prospect, its most intriguing offensive prospect, and a 23-year-old major league ready player with enormous potential. When it does do that, we laugh at it ten years later, as we do when it comes to the Expos trading Cliff Lee, Brandon Phillips and Grady Sizemore to Cleveland for Bartolo Colon.
If you can get Pence for Singleton, Brody Colvin and another piece … maybe. Okay, probably. But Houston is under no pressure to trade Pence. He has another two years of team control left at a reasonable price for his services, and if Ed Wade feels he can get just as much for Pence next year, why trade him now?
Upton is being referred to as the alternative to Beltran and Pence. The Nationals and Giants are hard after him, and the Phillies have expressed some interest as well. But it’s not a fit here. Upton’s value is derived mostly from his stellar defense in centerfield. But the Phillies already have a speedy centerfielder who would probably stay at his position while Upton moves to right. The Phils are looking for a big-time bat, not a slight defensive upgrade.
Upton hit .300 in his first full season thanks to an inflated, non-line drive driven .393 BABIP. That, along with his #1 overall draft status, unfortunately made most think that .300 was his true talent level. It is not. His true talent level has proven to be ~.250 with good baserunning and defense, and no firm spot in a batting order. He’d make sense for Washington, but not the Phils. Especially considering the pricetag.
Two new names to the trading block. Rasmus is being actively shopped despite his youth and promise because of seemingly perpetual disagreements with the Cardinals coaching staff. Tony La Russa’s latest comment was that Rasmus “doesn’t listen to his coaches,” leading to his prolonged funks. Rasmus is having a poor year, but is still OPSing .753 with 11 homers. He has made many defensive miscues this year in center, but he is the perfect example of a player in need of a fresh start. I can’t see Rasmus coming here because the Phillies will be St. Louis’ top competition for an NL title in the years to come. They won’t trade him here unless they are absolutely wowed.
Quentin doesn’t look to be a real possibility, either. The White Sox have been schizophrenic, wanting to buy one day and sell the next, but most believe they’ll either buy or stand pat at the deadline. Even through all the struggles, the Pale Hose are 1.5 games closer to first place than the Braves. Quentin has been a major part of that. Why would they trade him so soon after sweeping the Indians and playing the Tigers well?
Bell is probably going to the Cardinals — at least he would in the most logical of worlds — and Adams looks like he’s staying put. That is, of course, unless the Phillies make a serious run at Adams. Since 2008, Adams has a 1.67 ERA and 0.90 WHIP. How? Well, because he learned a cutter prior to ’08, and has since perfected it to the point that nobody other than Mariano Rivera has saved more runs with the pitch. Adams’ cutter has been worth 26.7 runs above average the last four years, helping him transform from a journeyman into one of the five best relievers in baseball.
The Phillies probably don’t need a reliever. But not going after Adams is like not pursuing an opportunity with a really hot girl because you’re content with an average looking girl you fight with a bit too much.