From the winter hot stove, to in-season deals that were missed, Phillies GM Pat Gillick hasn't done enough to address the unraveling starting rotation.
Pat Gillick and the Phillies were outdone by Omar Minaya and the Mets in how they temporarily fixed the bottom of their rotation.
Like the Phils, they had two gaping holes, filled for a while by Jose Lima and Jeremi Gonzalez, both no longer on the team. Sensing urgency, they called up Alay Soler, the Cuban rookie, and traded for El Duque, the Cuban veteran.
The question is: Why didn't Gillick trade for a pitcher like this at the first sign of trouble? The Mets were able to move journeyman reliever Jorge Julio for him. It’s not as if the Phils couldn’t come up with something better.
Did anyone besides the Phillies brain trust expect all the puzzle pieces to fit? After a month, it was clear they would not. Did Gillick really expect Gavin Floyd to pull through? How much did he expect from 36-year-old Jon Lieber, who hasn’t pitched well since spring training and appears better suited to drive a forklift? And how much faith did he have in Ryan Madson to help the team more as a starter than as a reliever?
These are three legitimate questions that fall back on Gillick, who's watched as several productive, cheap pitchers have passed him by. Today, his only starting pitching acquisition remains Ryan Franklin, who has yet to start a game for the Phillies.
Gillick made the right call in passing on high-priced free agents, like Matt Morris and Jeff Weaver, but several good pitchers have been had for a lot less, from Bronson Arroyo, acquired by the Reds for Wily Mo Pena, to Aaron Sele, signed right off the scrap heap by the Dodgers.
El Duque had struggled with Arizona, but has pitched well since coming over to New York. Stats or no, this is a pitcher that has won in the past, has pitched in the postseason and could have helped them.
--- The Beerleaguer fantasy team finally parted ways with struggling second baseman Marcus Giles. Atlanta’s leadoff situation is the biggest difference between this season and last, with Rafael Furcal moving on to the Dodgers to anchor that young defense. Giles is an even worse leadoff hitter than our own Jimmy Rollins, with less speed and less ability to generate extra-base hits. Giles has 19 on the season, with just 3 homers. He’s well off pace for what PECOTA expected from him this season, and allow me to make this observation without insinuating anything, but he looks much smaller. The Braves are 10 back of the Mets and 3.5 games back of the Phillies. Still, don’t count them out.
--- If the Phillies do nothing else at the trade deadline, they should move Rheal Cormier to a contending team that needs a left-handed reliever. A team like Arizona, for example, could find themselves in the NL West hunt without a left-handed arm in their entire staff. It would be criminal to be without one for the playoffs. If the Phillies can manage even a mid-level third base or catching prospect, from a farm system as deep and redundant as Arizona’s, they should consider themselves blessed. Stranger things have happened. Some of the most lopsided deals in history came in deadline deals for veteran relief pitching, including Larry Andersen to Boston for minor league first baseman Jeff Bagwell.
--- In other news, Randy Wolf has already made two rehab starts. Second baseman Chase Utley has widened his lead in all-star voting over Craig Biggio. Tom Goodman of Swing and a Miss has a great article on whether the Phils will buy or sell at the trade deadline. Tom Goyne of Balls Sticks & Stuff takes a look at the polarizing effect Bobby Abreu has on Phans. Enrico of The 700 Level is helping raise money to fight breast cancer.