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Phillies rebuild not off to a smashing start

Jul 31, 2012, 2:30 PM EDT

Ruben Amaro, Charlie Manuel AP

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro was burnt the first time he ever had to sell, giving Cliff Lee away to the Mariners for three modest prospects, none of whom have made any sort of contribution so far, after the 2009 season. Take two isn’t looking like a big success either, as he doesn’t appear to have gotten any potential stars in return for two-thirds of his outfield in Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino today.

Pence was sent to the Giants for catcher Tommy Joseph, outfielder Nate Schierholtz and right-hander Seth Rosin, a return that pales in comparison to the package of first baseman Jonathan Singleton, right-hander Jarred Cosart, outfielder Domingo Santana and right-hander Josh Zied that they gave up to get him from Houston a year ago.

Joseph, who is hitting .260/.313/.391 as a 20-year-old in Double-A this year (he turned 21 two weeks ago), is a fine prospect with a chance to be a perfectly solid starting catcher come 2014. That’s good timing for the Phillies, since Carlos Ruiz will be a free agent after 2013. However, Ruiz is a fan favorite having an outstanding year, and even though he’ll be 35 in 2014, there’s a good chance the Phillies will want to keep him around. Plus, while Joseph is the better bet, the Phillies already had a pretty good Double-A catching prospect in Sebastian Valle. Certainly, having an extra catcher is a good thing, but Joseph lacks All-Star potential and wasn’t the ideal centerpiece here.

The Phillies know what they’re getting in Schierholtz, a 28-year-old who has hit .270/.319/.412 in 1,209 major league at-bats. Because he’s a very good defensive right fielder, he’s a reasonable option as a platoon starter against right-handers. But he’s a complementary player, and guys like him aren’t hard to come by in free agency. The Phillies will probably pay him close to $2 million in arbitration next year.

Rosin, a 2010 fourth-round pick, didn’t rank among the Giants’ better prospects. He had a 4.31 ERA in five starts and 29 relief appearances for Single-A San Jose this season.

Victorino was traded to the Dodgers for right-handers Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin. I like Lindblom despite his weak peripherals, but as a flyball pitcher, he’s not a great fit in Citizens Bank Park. I still think he’ll prove to be a fine setup man in front of Jonathan Papelbon. The 25-year-old has a 3.02 ERA in 47 2/3 innings out of the pen for the Dodgers this year. Because he’s given up nine homers, he has a FIP of 5.05.

Martin, a 2008 first-round pick, is a long shot, though the 23-year-old has managed to bring his walk rate down to a reasonable level while going 8-6 with a 3.58 ERA and a 112/61 K/BB in 118 IP for Double-A Chattanooga this year. Odds are that he’ll be a reliever if he does make it.

In a vacuum, that’s still a pretty good return for two months of Victorino. Still, it’s only so much better than the supplemental first-round pick than they would have gotten had he left in free agency this winter. The haul for Pence wasn’t impressive, and it’s clear that his likely $14 million salary in arbitration next year scared off some suitors. That’s not Amaro’s fault; he just gave up too much to get Pence in the first place.

  1. headbanger33 - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    Paging Mr. Minaya…Mr. Minaya…

  2. Ben - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Ruben Amaro f*ck something up? I’d never believe it.

    • seeingwhatsticks - Jul 31, 2012 at 4:47 PM

      What a difference a year makes. This time last year Ruben Amaro was a stealth ninja genius who had put together a 250 win team that would have taken down the 27 Yankees with ease.

      • Ben - Jul 31, 2012 at 4:57 PM

        Nobody thought Ruben Amaro was a stealth ninja genius. They thought he spent money like drunken sailor with syphilitic dementia. And they were right.

      • seeingwhatsticks - Jul 31, 2012 at 6:39 PM

        Clearly you were not reading the comments here after the Cliff Lee deal and then the Hunter Pence trade last year.

  3. drmonkeyarmy - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Would they have gotten a supplemental pick for Victorino? Is anybody going to offer him the salary necessary to garner a pick (around 12 million/per)? Furthermore, I think a lot of the dealing has more to do with getting under the luxury tax this season. They are bound to go over next season and probably don’t want to pay the extra penalties associated with going over two straight years. With the limit going to 189 million in 2014, they will have a bit more room to play with.

    • The Common Man - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:47 PM

      I can’t believe I’m agreeing with the good doctor, but it seems ridiculous to complain about these hauls, and I actually really like what they got for Pence.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:50 PM

        This is two times in a row Common Man. What is going on here? If this isn’t a sign of the coming apocalypse, I don’t know what is.

      • Francisco (FC) - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:57 PM

        TCM, you know Matthew wants to graduate to Master Baiter, so he comes out with these types of headlines and slants on certain issues :)

    • gammagammahey - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:47 PM

      For the comp pick, the player doesn’t have to ultimately sign a contract worth $12m/year, the old team just needs to offer a 1-year deal worth that much. Victorino’s looking for a long-term deal so he’d decline that either way.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:49 PM

        Thanks for the information. Still trying to get a clearer idea on the compensation details of the new CBA.

      • paperlions - Jul 31, 2012 at 3:27 PM

        The offer has to be something like at least the average of the top 125 baseball contracts (which may be where the $12Mish figure comes from) in order to get compensation for losing the player….if a guy is Victorino’s age, he may be looking for a multi-year deal because every year increases the chances that he’ll never get one….but yeah, it is a risk for teams to assume that such a player would turn down that offer…as they may not get offered anything close to that AAV on a multi-year deal.

    • ewyorksockexchange - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:49 PM

      The compensatory pick rules in the new CBA don’t give you very much, even for a type A player. You no longer get the signing team’s 1st rounder, which is why you’re seeing less for players.

    • xmatt0926x - Jul 31, 2012 at 4:14 PM

      DrMonkey, don’t throw those little facts in there please. They kind of ruin the story.

  4. Francisco (FC) - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    We won’t know the final cost of the Hunter Pence trade until the prospects pan out or flame out. As for the return I don’t think Ruben could have gotten much more for an outfielder on his way out or an outfielder about to get much more expensive in arbitration. When evaluating prospects though it’s more useful to consider them on their own not within the context of the farm system, if the move gives the Phillies an extra catcher who may be expendable they may later trade that prospect for more decent help.

  5. stex52 - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    The link that Matt provided to the comments on the Pence trade from a year ago should be required reading for everyone on this blog. We should all practice great restraint when predicting what baseball teams will be like in a year. The descriptions of the Phillies, Braves and Giants bear no resemblance to what actually happened in the playoffs or what we see from those teams now. Amazingly, no mention of the Nationals. :-)

    Gives me a little more respect for what a GM does for a living.

    • cleverbob - Jul 31, 2012 at 4:52 PM

      Who pissed in craigbhill’s cheerios that morning?

  6. leerosenthall - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Schierholtz is a good *complementary* player (although maybe he’s known for paying compliments too). I’m just glad to hear he is a reliable outfielder. Pence was a butcher out there in RF.

    The most pressing question: Which animal is the Giants’ marketing team preparing to represent Hunter, a kangaroo?

    • Matthew Pouliot - Jul 31, 2012 at 3:02 PM

      Did I really do that…. yes, yes I did. Ugh.

      • leerosenthall - Jul 31, 2012 at 7:16 PM

        That’s okay. I was pretty sure it was a typo and not ignorance on your part.

        At least you can edit your gaffes, unlike us poor slobs in the comments section.

  7. GoneYickitty - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    I agree with the comments on the Cliff Lee trade, but don’t think they really could have gotten much more for these two players. It’s not like teams weren’t aware they were available and yet nobody made better offers.

  8. illcomm - Jul 31, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    u gotta remember. Phils paid more for pence cause he was cheaper for the time period we had him. giants paid a little less in prospects cause they will have to shell out 6 mil more than the Phils gave pence for the same time lenght.

  9. greymares - Jul 31, 2012 at 3:01 PM

    To-Jo (Tommy Joseph) is athletic enough to move to third base, chooch has 2 years and Valle will be the future catcher, unless Joseph was aquired to trade for Headley

  10. mdpickles - Jul 31, 2012 at 3:10 PM

    If Chooch keeps hitting the way he is, I see a 1B platoon next year or the year after with overpaid Howard. But I won’t say that these trades accomplished little. If anything, it cleared up payroll for 2013, in which the Phils will go WAAYY over the tax threshold. Bank it, literally.

  11. njbucsfan - Jul 31, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    Does the sell out streak continue?

    • xmatt0926x - Jul 31, 2012 at 4:21 PM

      The sellout streak is the most over hyped thing ever. If the tickets are already sold and 20% of the people don’t show up, who cares? There’s only one thing you need to ask about a fan base. Will they support a good product on the field? If they will then that’s good enough. when a teams management says we are no longer good enough so we will dump salary and put a poorer product on the field, why should the everyday fan dump his hard earned money to see that poorer product? Oh, thats right. Loyalty!!! (as the owners laugh their asses off at those “loyal” fans)

  12. chadjones27 - Jul 31, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    How is Pence going to make $14 mil in arbitration next year? Are other teams really overpaying awkward right fielders who are just average?

  13. paperlions - Jul 31, 2012 at 3:33 PM

    No, they didn’t get much for those guys….but they got about what most people would expect for a pair of 2-month rentals. The problem the Phils have is that they traded away their farm, not realizing (somehow) that other teams valued prospects far more than Philly did…so now that the shoe is on the other foot…there aren’t any guys available to get back that resemble the talent of the guys they traded away. The game has been changing quickly the last few years, but the Phillies FO has been operating like it was still the early 2000s.

    What in the world is their lineup going to look like next year? Gonna be pretty ugly, isn’t it?

  14. rjmarrella - Jul 31, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    These deals are fine. Not great, but fine. RAJ has options heading into the offseason now. That’s important. Paging Michael Bourne

  15. dannythebisforbeast - Jul 31, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    Amaro has yet to make a good selling trade. Hes great and giving away our prospects for rentals,
    but not the other way around. Even a blind squirrel finds a nut Amaro hasnt found one yet IMO.

    Phillies could use Joe Banner

  16. paperlions - Jul 31, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    I love that suddenly Philly fans dream of landing Bourne….he is pretty much the prototypical “paid too much for too many years and now he suddenly doesn’t have the speed to cover CF or make a difference at the plate to even justify 1/2 of his contract” pending FA.

    He going to be 30 this off season, not horribly old, but still buying into a declining market. He is exactly the kind of mistake Philly has been making in the FA market the last few years.

    • cleverbob - Jul 31, 2012 at 10:46 PM

      Count me out

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