Monday, December 12, 2005

Padilla Floats On...

Five and a half years after dealing this guy, all the Phillies are left with is a player to be named later

Phillies trade SP Vicente Padilla to the Texas Rangers for a player to be named later

Below is just a sampling of the speculation immediately following the Padilla deal. These rumors may seem crazy now (quite frankly those first couple of names were crazy at the time as well, not just in hindsight), but there were Phillies fans who reacted like this after getting word of the deal. Are those fans crazy? Absolutely. Is random speculation based on no actual evidence fun this time of year? I sure think so. The actual timeline of a portion of the Phillies fanbase:

The instant buzz – we’re getting Blalock! If not Blalock, then we’re getting Kevin Mench or Brad Wilkerson so the big Abreu trade can go down later!

Excitement is still in the air – no Blalock or Mench or Wilkerson, but we’re getting either Laird or Barajas! No more Lieby!

Excitement drops, but at least it’s a major leaguer – no new third baseman or outfielder, Lieby is still our catcher, but at least we get a major league arm like Ricardo Rodriguez, Joaquin Benoit, or Erasmo Ramirez! (Okay, I’ll admit I can’t think of anyone who actually got that excited for those three guys, but humor me)

Reality sets in – Jayson Stark goes on Daily News Live and says the Phillies will get prospects (plural…interesting) in return, but none of the players coming to Philly will cause any excitement for the fans. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.

A name that I’ve heard pop up repeatedly is P Matt Riley. Riley was much hyped while coming up through the Orioles system, but his performance has never matched his supposed talents. He really is just one of the many minor league names (apparently the prospect(s) involved is/are not currently on the Rangers 40-man roster) being mentioned and it is just too darned early to speculate on what the Phillies could receive. More to come on this, I’m sure.

More on the actual departure of Padilla soon, but for now we’ll take a quick look at the potential repercussions of a deal like this. The first thing to jump out is the growing hole in the starting rotation. The Phillies will now have to fill two spots (after Lieber, Myers, and Lidle) instead of one and currently have a pool of Ryan Madson, Rob Tejeda, Eude Brito, and Gavin Floyd to choose from. Can anybody see the Phillies seriously heading into 2006 with two of those guys in their rotation? This is a problem. The Phillies need pitching. So why did they trade a pitcher with all kinds of untapped potential (very similar career numbers to A.J. Burnett, just saying) who was set to earn a modest $4 million in arbitration (modest by market standards) and get no immediate help in return? Why, when the stated goal is to acquire pitching, did they go out and trade a starting pitcher?

Personality: The Phillies have long been wary of Padilla’s eccentric ways (that’s putting it nicely) and finally decided enough is enough. This would indicate certain members of the old Ed Wade regime was in Pat Gillick’s ear as he contemplated whether to bring Padilla back or not. This is a very troubling thought. The Phils had already decided to not bring Padilla back by way of offering him arbitration so they jumped at the opportunity to deal him to Texas for at least something of value. If they had decided to not offer him arbitration (a move I don’t agree with) then the trade was for the best. The thought of Gillick listening to some of the older, long-time members of the front office for opinions on what to do with Padilla is worrisome to say the least. The older members of the front office would know more about Padilla than Gillick – if the deal came down to not wanting to take a chance on a guy with a spotty personality like Padilla, you’d better believe the new Phillies GM got a lot of help making that decision. Scary.

Other moves yet to be made: The Phillies could have three possible deals in the works as I see it -

  1. Phillies actively shopping 3B David Bell and OF Jason Michaels and a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers involving a relief pitcher or starting pitcher is in works - a David Bell for RP Duaner Sanchez deal has reportedly been discussed (this would add to the bullpen and enable Ryan Madson to join the rotation) and there is a shot the Jason Michaels for a SP (Derek Lowe? Brad Penny? not sure if either was a legit rumor, but it is out there) could be brought back up since the Phillies did save money by dumping Padilla
  2. Phillies are close to a deal with a FA relief pitcher (Braden Looper?), enabling Madson to join the rotation
  3. Phillies are working on a much larger deal involving Bobby Abreu - this is the biggest long shot by far, but I just have this feeling that the Abreu trade rumors aren't quite dead yet
This entire Padilla trade is tough to judge. Since this deal is seen merely as a precursor to another big move, it is really hard to judge it independent of any other acquisition. I just don't know what to make of it quite yet (my site has the most insightful analysis on the web, no?). I have been able to determine one thing based on this trade and it is a very, very important trend that should not be ignored. The Phillies are in the midst of a systematic approach to take out any player with an abnormally sized head. First it was Placido Polanco, next it was Todd Pratt, and now they've jettisoned Vicente Padilla. Hmm come to think of it, don't J-Mike and Bobby have the next two largest heads on the team...?


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