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Wednesday, June 15, 2005


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Actually, I had suggested that the Phillies needed to trade for a starter a couple of weeks ago on the "Swing and Miss" blog. And I believe they should have done so instead of trading for Urbina.
Now I have no problem with Urbina as a good quality reliever, but did the Phillies need him? The concern was that the bullpen was being overworked (at least the quality guys) and the Phillies would not make it through the season without bullpen help.
Well if your bullpen is overworked, there are TWO things you can do to solve the problem: you can add a reliever to pick up the workload, or you can lower the workload by adding a quality starter that can take you into the 7-8 inning most of the time.
Javier Vasquez was the pitcher I thought the Phillies had a shot at. He still wanted back East and to go to a contender. He's solid. I believe your pitching staff overall, and even your bullpen's performance would be better if you had added Vasquez (or another quality starter) rather than Urbina.
Well, the Phillies can't undo the trade with Detroit (unless they turned around and traded Urbina for a starter..not likely). But one thing I would hope they do if they deal Howard or someone else for a starting pitcher: get a pitcher with a few years on his contract because you are going to need him in the next couple of seasons as well as this year. Don't trade for a rent-a-player. Wolf could very well miss 2006, Wagner will be gone and most likely Padilla. If you trade for a free-agent-to-be, yes, you free up his salary at the end of the season, but if you can find a cost-effective guy with a couple of years left on his deal, it's cheaper than what you'll have to pay for another free agent during the offseason. (Cost Effective is a relative term, but this past off-season free agent average starters were going for $7-8 mil/yr.)
As far as trading Howard, before doing that I would seriously weigh the option of trading Wagner. With Madson and Urbina you would still be ok in terms of closing out games, and Wagner will get you a better deal than Howard will. Wagner also will be gone next year and Howard still has upside I think if given a real chance. Plus I think more teams are looking for top-flight closers than minor league first basemen right now. You have much more leverage to get a deal that works. Lastly, I honestly don't think Wagner has been particularly overpowering this season so far. Actually, he's been a little shaky and I think the Urbina trade was also directed at that unspoken concern by Phillies management. And if the Phillies trade Wagner and give Urbina the closer's job, assuming he performs as his records indicates he can, they have a much better chance of re-signing him than if they use him mostly as the set-up man. He wants to close.
So, let's see what's out there.

George S

Awesome points, George, and you're right about Wagner. At the deadline, closers will be more coveted commodities than minor league first basemen. I'd consider trading Wags for a starter, or even sling Urbina to another team.

As usual, George has good things to say. And I find myself agreeing with him about Wagner's erratic performances. Still, I don't think the Phillies' management believes it can make a serious run without him. I, too, believe he will walk at the end of this season, but if the Phils stick with their future-is-now-theme, they cannot move Wagner. I would have preferred Vasquez over Urbina as well and agree with George's point (it's so obvious most of us didn't see it) that the best way to save your bullpen is to get good starting pitching. I don't know whether there were ever any serious discussions between Arizona and Phila. about him.

Jason: I cannot understand why you say Ryan Howard's stock is dropping by the day. He is destroying AAA pitching (rbi's, homers, average) and has done so for the less than one full year he has at that level. His stock is rising. Could you elaborate?

Howard is still a great talent with lots of promise, but I believe his stock has dropped, based on the negativity surrounding his brief time replacing Thome. He hardly played because Manuel said there were problems with his mechanics. Teams will wonder why he isn't up on this roadtrip, plus, every day is further from young. I see your point though. Those were strong words to use. I still think Howard is their No. 1 tradable guy.

Well, under the heading of "timing is everything", Howard was absolutely stinging the ball in Philadelphia when he was sent down because a few guys were coming off the disabled list. So, I am sticking with my story: he can hit. The reason they didn't take him on the West Coast trip may have more to do with not wanting to waste an option like they just did with Telemauco sending him up and down twice in a short span of time.

Timing is everything indeed. Those windows of opportunity open and close so fast in baseball.

My opinion of the Howard situation might be a little skewed because I'm here in Reading. The buzz around the guy was huge last year.

I, too, will reiterate my position: He can hit, but should have been traded this offseason to capitalize on the buzz.

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