The Phillies have had decent success against Stephen Strasburg this season. Always take their chances against a hard-throwing righty over a junk-spinning lefty. The win, which might have been the easiest of the season, capped a frustrating day for the fans. Two familiar faces were shipped off to NL West contenders, and then the Phillies played like a team that should be a lot better off in the standings. One good game isn’t going to get the Phillies very far at this point, though, so the consolation might be that even without two starting outfielders, things might not get even worse. It’s not like we’re tanking for Andrew Luck here. So, while the Phils settle into “spoiler” mode, what exactly did they do yesterday? Aside from somehow not trading Joe Blanton…
Pence to the Giants:
Why: Pence, who experienced crazy highs and lows in his year with the Phillies was going to be due a large chunk of change in arbitration. In fact, his one-year salary will probably be greater than the average annual value he could expect to get as a free-agent. The Phillies can’t afford to overpay at any position, and they obviously decided Pence was not the guy they wanted in RF for the next three or four years. With a year of team control left, Pence was one of the few pieces the Phillies had with real value.
What they Got Back: The centerpiece of the deal is catching prospect Tommy Joseph. Joseph put up big offensive numbers and showed power in A-ball, but his offense has cooled this season at AA Richmond. He’s got a strong throwing arm, and he’s young for his level–just 20. With Carlos Ruiz locked in for 2013, this is a move that sets the Phillies up for 2014. They now have two in-house candidates to replace Ruiz (Sebastian Valle moves to AAA) and they could flip one of them in a future deal. With Joseph, the Phils also got fringe prospect Seth Rosin (who the Phils are hoping is a late-bloomer) and ML outfielder, Nate Schierholtz. Schierholtz is a solid defensive outfielder with a right-field arm that should slot well into a 4th outfielder role along with getting the occasional start against right-handed pitching.
Consensus: When you compare what the Phillies got to what they gave up to get Pence last year (their #1 pitching and hitting prospects), this doesn’t look like a great deal, but Pence has a lot less value this year. He’s closer to free agency, his numbers are down, and he’s a year older. Amaro ultimately lost the gamble on Pence, but it’s not a bad return for where things stood yesterday.
Victorino to the Dodgers:
Why: Watching a Shane highlight package this morning, you realize how big a role he played in the team’s best seasons. But, 2012 was a struggle for Shane and we should all be happy the Phils didn’t offer him extension after last year’s career year. Shane should still get a decent contract in free agency at a price that the Phillies wouldn’t be able to afford–at least not for another player who is over 30. Victorino’s versatility means he still had some value, even as a rental, and the Phillies saw a chance to help a maligned bullpen.
What they Got Back: Josh Lindblom will slot right into the Phillies bullpen. Lindblom has a decent arm, accumulates a decent amount of strikeouts, but there is some concern about him being a fly ball pitcher in Citizen’s Bank Park. The hope is that Lindblom can become a 7th inning type guy, something the Phillies have sorely missed this season. Ethan Martin is a 23-year old AA pitcher. Martin is a former 1st round pick, who has struck out about a batter an inning in his minor league career. He’s more than a throw-in, but doesn’t look to be a guy who will impact the Phillies this year or next.
Consensus: This year’s bullpen keep the Phillies from having a chance. They had other issues, but a good bullpen would have the Phillies in wild-card contention. The team was just too old, too injured and too AAA out in the ‘pen, so any attempt to get better should be well received. For two-months of Shane Victorino, you could have done worse.
So, that’s where the Phillies stand right now. More changes are likely to come, either through August moves, or winter wheelings and dealings. Amaro seems to be positioning himself to take a run at a big name free-agent outfielder to pair with Dom Brown and a Mayberry/Nix platoon.
Five More Thoughts on the Olympics:
1. McKayla Maroney’s vault was incredible. I heard about it before the coverage last night, but when I saw it play out on TV, I was pretty pumped up. It reminded me of how horsebleep the scoring/judging system is in gymnastics. I don’t think we need a computer to call balls and strikes, but we may need one to judge gymnastics. I appreciated the outrage of the American announcers. I like to keep things as partisan as possible.
2. Shouldn’t swimmers be better at touching the wall? What was Phelps doing last night? And they were criticizing his turns? How many turns has he done in his career? Eleventy billion? The Phelps/Lochte combo isn’t really living up to expectations, but I suppose that was to be expected. At least they haven’t gone full Bode Miller meltdown.
3. Vince Hancock set a skeet shooting record, hitting 148 of 150 targets. I actually saw the conclusion of this live and I’m honestly surprised this guy missed at all. Well. Oiled. Machine. Skeet shooting looks impossible to me. I remember how hard Duck Hunt was if you actually stood away from the TV screen. I think I might like to try it once, though, just to see what it’s like. When that target explodes, I imagine it’s euphoria.
4. The Badminton cheating scandal hits pretty close to home, because as you may remember, I have a pretty serious relationship with the sport. As you can see if you watch the video, you cannot fake badminton. You’re either getting after it, or you aren’t. I’m afraid the players got what they deserved. Another lesson of 3-PT badminton is that you always play to win and show no mercy. In the bigger picture, I’ve got my doubts about the entire Chinese team. Serious doubts.
5. The tape-delay thing does bother me a little bit. I’m not sure why they can’t show the events live and then again in their ready-made packages. It seems like it would be the same experience for everyone, whether they know the outcome or not. Some people like the back story, and I’ve watched several events already having known what happens. And, there are times when tape-delay is nice. Do you want to watch 7 rounds of 20 divers, or do you want to watch the last round of just the contenders? It’s a tough spot for NBC, but the lesson as always is that all events should be held based on the time zone I am in at that particular moment. Will there be more live events this weekend? Breakfast at Wimbledon style? I hope so.