According to Baseball Prospectus, the Phillies currently have a 16% chance of making the playoffs this year.
The Phillies stand 5.5 games back of the Braves for the division and 2 back of the Rockies (though with 4 other teams in between) for the Wild Card.
Since the creation of the Wild Card, the average number of wins for the Wild Card team is 91.5.
To get to 92 wins, the Phillies would have to go 44-27 over the final 71 games, a streak they have shown they are capable of each of the last 3 years.
Taking all of this in, what should Ruben Amaro be doing as the trade deadline nears?3
Here are his options as I see them…
Aggressive/Long Term: This would mean going after Roy Oswalt, Dan Haren or another big piece and putting any prospect on the table except Domonic Brown. Both Oswalt and Haren have years and money owed to them after this season.
Aggressive/Short Term: This would mean going after a 1/2 year rental, but giving up quality prospects to do so. Someone like Ben Sheets or Ted Lilly would fall into this category.
Quality Tweak: Try to get a bullpen piece that can pitch near the end of games, or a utility guy who can start for most teams (Ty Wigginton). Cost would be a 10-15 ranked prospect and change.
Minor Tweak: Another 6th-7th inning bullpen arm, a crappy starter (Jake Westbrook) or a non-impact bench guy (Miguel Tejada?) and hope to catch lightning in a bottle. Cost would be a low level prospect.
Sell: This wouldn’t be a forfeit of the season, as the only real piece we have to sell is Jayson Werth and he would be replaced by Domonic Brown. But if the Phillies know they aren’t re-signing Werth, and know Brown is capable of accounting for around 80-90% of his production this year, then why not get a couple quality prospects instead of settling for mostly-miss draft picks. This move would be for 2011 on, while slightly hurting our 2010 chances.
Do Nothing: Go with what you have, knowing they have had hot 2nd halves before.
So what do you think?
Obviously there are a lot of options out there, and you could combine the above together (trade Werth, flip prospects etc…). Right now, I’m leaning towards quality tweak myself. The only high quality prospect I would trade right now is Anthony Gose, and I don’t think he’s good enough to get an elite player. I think a little more stability in the bullpen and a bat to add to the line-up could provide the slight shot-in-the-arm this team needs. The problem right now is the offense, and the bats are already in place, they just aren’t doing their job.
I think mortgaging the future for an Oswalt or Haren would be an overreaction to a season filled with bad luck and injury woes, though I would check the price on Haren and see if you can buy low on him.
I would also strongly consider moving Werth if they can get a real good prospect who could help us in 2011 (a starter, an outfielder to platoon and then takeover for Ibanez, a closer). Dom Brown is just tearing the cover off the ball, and while he might be a downgrade to Werth, the long-term benefit of a quality player on low salary (the prospect we get for Werth) would outweigh that for me.
It’s a tough position for Amaro (though one he mostly put himself in) because this team is underachieving not because of lack or personnel. There really isn’t a spot in the line-up where you can replace someone. A bullpen/bench guy will only help so much. And you almost always have to overpay for starting pitching. We’ll see what he does.
Vance Worley has found something in Reading – could it earn him a spot-start with the big club this year? Worley, 22, started off slow this year and some thought he was on his way to the bullpen. However, since May 1st he has a 2.74 ERA in 15 starts. Still, he was giving up too many hits, but in his last 2 starts, he’s been nothing short of dominant. In those 2 starts, he’s pitched 17 innings, allowed 0 runs, 6 hits and 1 walk and struck out 10. He doesn’t have elite stuff, but he could be turning himself into a future reliable starter.
Series Preview: Phillies at St. Louis Cardinals
Monday (7:05): Kendrick vs. RHP Blake Hawksworth (3-5, 4.73 ERA)
Tuesday (8:15): Moyer vs. RHP Chris Carpenter (10-3, 3.16 ERA)
Wednesday (8:15): Blantonvs. LHP Jamie Garcia (8-4, 2.27 ERA)
Thursday (2:15): Hamels vs. RHP Adam Wainwright (14-5, 2.02 ERA)
3 Questions for The Series
- Are you trying to get traded, Jayson Werth?
- Kendrick, Moyer, Blanton: Who steps up?
- Will the Phillies continue doing the opposite of what they are supposed to? (Sweep Reds, nearly swept by Cubs)
Even though the pitching match-ups look ominous, I think the Phils tough out a split here. Ryan Howard hits the ball very well in St. Louis and sometimes with this team, they really need their backs against the wall to step up. However, they are going to need to start coming up with a lot more than splits if they want to see the post-season for the 4th straight year.