On The Edge Blog

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Blogging hurts the trade market


It's official. Blogging has ruined the baseball trade market.
Here's the events of yesterday, according to www.mlbtraderumors.com

12:01pm: According to ESPN's Jayson Stark, the Phillies have been having extensive conversations with the Royals about lefty Ron Mahay. The Royals would receive 23 year-old Double A shortstop prospect Jason Donald in return.
12:47pm: Ken Rosenthal says the Phils are not the frontrunner for Mahay. Other teams may be willing to give up more. The Red Sox are known to have Mahay in their sights.
12:56pm: Stark is now saying the Phillies are not close on Mahay.

So apparently, several MLB general managers saw the report that the Phillies were only giving up an average Double-A shortstop for one of the top available relievers, and then, within 45 minutes, the Red Sox were in on the trade talks, along with several other teams who had topped the Phillies offer.

So the question is, did a Phillies source open his mouth and blow the deal, or did a Royals source open up to drive up the asking price for Mahay?

Either way. This blogging thing is great to keep you up-to-date on rumors about your favorite team, but in the end, it winds up costing your team more prospects for mediocre trade rentals.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Gillick's lame duck season costs the Phillies another blockbuster

By now, you probably have heard about the recent trade acquisition of starting pitcher Joe Blanton, and the potential acquisition of Colorado Rockies outfielder Matt Holliday and relief pitcher Brian Fuentes.

While on the surface it appears as if General Manager Pat Gillick and the Phillies' top brass are trying to make moves to push the Phillies over the top and solidify their club as a World Series contender, the Joe Blanton trade and other trade rumors reveal a key problem with this team: Pat Gillick is a lame duck general manager and it is holding back the Phillies.

I have praised Gillick on many occasions, including his ability to build the team's bullpen into the best in the National League, but those were all minor moves, compared to the blockbuster deals that he hasn't made.

Remember those rumors that the Phillies were trying to bring 2007 American League Cy Young Award winner C.C. Sabathia to Philadelphia? The Phillies were said to be close, but didn't beat the package that the Milwaukee Brewers sent to Cleveland.

Now suddenly, the Phillies were rumored to be close to acquiring last year's National League MVP runner-up Matt Holliday and closer Brian Fuentes.

Apparently, the Phillies were talking about sending minor league pitchers Carlos Carrasco and J.A. Happ, minor league catcher Lou Marson, and starting centerfielder Shane Victorino to the Rockies for a two-month rental of the best relief pitcher and the best hitter available on the trade market.

Gillick had an opportunity to pick up the two best players available on the trade market without hurting the major league club, and for some reason he didn't get the job done.

Why not?

Well, it would have left the farm system completely barren above Single-A Clearwater. And I mean supermarket before a blizzard barren. Outfielder Greg Golson would have been the only player who could even resemble a prospect in Reading or with the Iron Pigs.

On the big club, Victorino is easily replaceable by Jayson Werth as the everyday centerfielder. Matt Holliday steps in as the starting right fielder. Brian Fuentes becomes the setup man for Brad Lidge, where along with J.C. Romero, Chad Durbin and Ryan Madson, the Phillies bullpen would be so dominant that they would only need a lead after the fifth inning to guarantee a win.

By the way, Holliday is only 28 years old, under contract next season, regularly hits above .300, smacks 30 homers and drives in more than 100 runs each year. He also clubbed five homers last year during the same playoffs that the Phillies couldn't seem to find any offense. I mean, he wouldn't look great hitting between Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, right? No, not at all.

And even if the Phillies didn't re-sign Fuentes at the end of the season, they would still get both a first round pick and a supplemental first round pick for losing him, which would help re-stock the farm system.

If Pat Gillick wasn't retiring at the end of the season, I believe that he would have made this trade in a heartbeat. This also means that neither Mike Arbuckle nor Ruben Amaro, Jr., is going to be the next general manager. This trade is a no-brainer, and both of those guys would sign off on this trade, but without the next general manager's permission, Gillick is too much of a stand-up guy to completely ruin the farm system for the next guy.

The fact of the matter is that Matt Holliday isn't coming here. Brian Fuentes isn't coming here. C.C. Sabathia and Rich Harden didn't come here. Pat Gillick is the reason why.

However, Joe Blanton did come to Philadelphia for prospects that the Phillies didn't need, and thankfully, that means Adam Eaton won't be starting anymore!

See? It's not all gloom and doom in Philadelphia. I can look on the bright side of the things.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A first-rate first half, but adjustments are needed

As the Phillies get set to start the second half of the season against the Florida Marlins and New York Mets, the two teams nipping at their first-place heels, it is time for Charlie Manuel to make some tough decisions to ensure that the Phillies end the year in the same position that they ended the first half of the season.

Charlie has seen some pleasant surprises from his pitching staff in the performances of the bullpen, specifically Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, and Clay Condrey, along with the 14-5 record the Phightins have when sophomore star Kyle Kendrick goes to the hill.

Unfortunately for the likes of Geoff Jenkins, Carlos Ruiz, So Taguchi, and Adam Eaton, it is time to pull the plug on their time in red pinstripes, because those players do not belong on a major league roster, let alone that of a first place team.

Starting with the pitching staff, which is obviously the biggest priority for the Phillies, another arm is needed in the bullpen, and two starters are needed in the rotation.

The first spot would be Adam Eaton’s turn in the rotation, because he is boasting a fat 5.71 ERA, and a 3-8 record in 19 starts. I’m not big on pinning my hopes onto the back a young, untested rookie, but J.A. Happ looked like he could easily take Eaton’s spot in the rotation.In fact, a platoon of relievers probably would do better than Eaton, because they would only need to pitch an extra three innings and not give up eight runs to replace his work.

Happ gave up just four runs in his two starts with the big club this year, coming against the Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Phillies won both games. He has good movement on his fastball and is willing to pitch inside, two things that Eaton can’t claim.

The other spot in the rotation, which was vacated by Brett Myers, will hopefully be filled by, none other than, Brett Myers. The befuddled one is said to have found his fastball and his nasty streak while riding buses with the Triple-A Iron Pigs. He obviously won’t be closing games in Philadelphia until at least 2012 when Brad Lidge’s new deal expires, so he better learn quickly how to start games.

If Myers hasn’t re-learned how to pitch in the majors, Reading’s Carlos Carrasco would be a quick fix from the farm system, while Seattle Mariner Eric Bedard, along with struggling Houston ace Roy Oswalt would be fine options through trade. Oakland’s Joe Blanton would not fit with the Phillies because the A’s routinely ask for more prospects than their players are worth, or that the Phillies actually have. Former Phillie and current San Diego Padre Randy Wolf also wouldn’t be a good fit for a reunion because of his 6.66 ERA outside of Petco Park.

In the bullpen, the Phillies have plugged the hole that Tom Gordon’s balky shoulder opened up with Ryan Madson. I’ll admit that I thought he stunk and was pretty much only useful as a long man to eat up innings after a disastrous Adam Eaton start, but Mad Dog has put a terrible April behind him, allowing just seven runs since May 1.

Madson, with his 2.83 ERA, has become a reliable right-handed 8th-inning set-up man for Lidge. This means that the Phillies don’t have to empty the farm system to pick up a two-month rental like Colorado’s Brian Fuentes, but could settle for a serviceable middle-inning guy like Ron Mahay from the Royals or Pittsburgh Pirate lefthanders John Grabow and Damaso Marte.

Switching over to hitting, fixing the lineup’s recent slump is as simple as playing the guys who are hot, while benching the guys who are not.Starting catcher Carlos Ruiz is hitting .202, with 2 homers and 20 RBIs, despite playing in 66 of the 96 games this season. Despite Chris Coste’s .279 batting average and seven homers, Ruiz is still getting the lion’s share of starts behind the plate.

In right field, expensive free agent acquisition Geoff Jenkins has seen his batting average drop to .237, and has not shown the 30-homer potential that was expected from playing in the cozy confines of Citizens Bank Park.

In fact, Jenkins’ platoon-mate, Jayson Werth, is hitting more than 30 points higher, and has five more dingers. Werth also plays better defense than Jenkins, and has swiped 11 bases on the year.

What about Greg Dobbs? He’s batting .322 on the season, and would look great getting on base in front of the RBI machines Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell. Manuel could easily find him some at bats in right field without being a defensive liability.

Through 96 games, the Phils are in first place, but only a half of a game in front of the suddenly resurgent Mets. The Mets don’t have the farm system to make a big move and put the pressure back on the Phillies, so the division title is still theirs for the taking.

It’s just a matter of Manuel dropping his allegiances to struggling veterans, and smartly managing playing time, while General Manager Pat Gillick adds a few pieces for insurance.

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Name: Matthew Fleishman, Yardley News Editor
Location: United States

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