Sunday, July 02, 2006

Two Missed Opportunities

The Phillies are now officially sellers. It’s time to let go of any hope we once had in the 2006 season and turn our attention to the future. It may be a bit early to completely jump ship, but there is now less than a month until the July 31 trade deadline and time to decide on the course of the rest of the season is running short. So while it may be sad to have to admit failure even before the Fourth of July holiday, this baseball team, as currently composed, has no chance to reach any of the preseason goals fans had wished possible. It’s time to look to the future…

Two lopsided trades went down in the past week that could very easily have been different if the Phillies had taken a more proactive approach to rebuilding their ballclub. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays traded pitcher Mark Hendrickson, catcher Toby Hall, and $1 million to the Los Angeles Dodgers for pitcher Jae Seo, catcher Dioner Navarro, and a player to be named later. The Cleveland Indians traded platoon first baseman Eduardo Perez to the Seattle Mariners for AAA middle infielder Asdrubal Cabrera.

Getting a deal done with the Dodgers might have been tricky, but there is no reason the Phillies couldn’t have come up with at least a comparable package of players to the group Tampa offered. Mark Hendrickson may be having a better season than Cory Lidle thus far, but he has been the better pitcher throughout the time span of their careers. Hendrickson is two years younger, makes less money, and is under club control through the 2006 season (something Lidle is not). Even with those positives, Hendrickson simply isn’t the pitcher that Cory Lidle is – Lidle is a league average arm and has been for a while, Mark Hendrickson has yet to prove he can perform on that average level over the long haul.

I think a package of Cory Lidle, Sal Fasano, and (if the Dodgers bite) one of the Phillies three veteran lefthanded relievers (Arthur Rhodes, Rheal Cormier, or Aaron Fultz) at least equals the offer the Dodgers accepted. Lidle is a better bet to pitch well for the Dodgers down the stretch, Fasano is a capable backup catcher that knows his role on a team (similar to Toby Hall but way cheaper), and any of the lefties would be a deal sweetener for L.A (though they may be reluctant since they have three lefties in their pen already). Lidle and Fasano are owed roughly 1.8625 million over the rest of the season (prorated amounts); Hendrickson and Hall are owed 2.1 million. Tampa threw in $1 million to even out salaries (Navarro and Seo together are only owed $341,000 the rest of ’06). The difference in money could have been worked out between the Phillies and the Dodgers. In a dream world, the Phillies would offer Mike Lieberthal instead of Fasano and only have to chip in about a million bucks to make it work.

Getting a deal done with Seattle would have been a heck of a lot less work. The Mariners reportedly had interest in David Dellucci at some point down the line. David Dellucci, a very useful bat that can hit against righties in a platoon, would have been undoubtedly more desirable to the Mariners than Eduardo Perez, a guy who can only hit lefties. The Phillies should have offered Dellucci for Cabrera and one of these minor leaguers: RHP Francisco Cruceta, C Guillermo Quiroz, OF T.J. Bohn, RHP Clint Nageotte, or C Rob Johnson. Dellucci for Cabrera and Cruceta seems extremely reasonable for both sides – Seattle gets their man while the Phillies get a 20-year old shortstop of the future (who is already in AAA) and an arm that could slide right into the big league bullpen.

Cory Lidle, David Dellucci, Sal Fasano, Arthur Rhodes, Rheal Cormier…these players are not part of the Phillies future. A 2007 catching duo of Dioner Navarro and Carlos Ruiz – now you are getting somewhere. A special defensive middle infielder like Cabrera with enough pop in his bat to someday hold down an everyday spot at a position in dire need of an influx of talent (outside of Jimmy Rollins in Philly, there are no shortstops worth a damn in this organization) seems like a good addition. Throw in an adequate pitcher in Seo who, at the very least, can help prevent situations like the “bullpen pitches all day game!” and the dreadful Adam Bernero experience. On top of that, add a major league ready reliever with a bright future ahead in Cruceta. Bottom line: it’s time to start looking ahead and building towards the future if for no other reason than the bleakness and hopelessness of the present.


Blogger SirAlden said...

Hi... loved your column, but respectfully if you were the Dodgers would you have really have taken Lidle and Fassano?

These are the days that try mens souls, we need to have good stuff to trade for top prospects.

Why would people take players who are not getting the job done for us? Good to dream though. Get post.

4:13 PM  
Blogger XXX said...

I definitely have some reservations about the feasability of the Lidle/Fasano/lefthander trade idea. It made a lot of sense in my head, but the more I thought about it as I began writing about it, the less I thought it would work. I guess the main point was to highlight how bad a deal it was for the Dodgers in the first place - if they are dumb enough to trade a valuable chip like Navarro for Mark Hendrickson and Toby Hall, then maybe they'd bite on a package including Lidle (worse than Hendrickson this year, but with a better overall track record) and Fasano (no more than a decent backup catcher, but he still has very comparable numbers to the pretty terrible Toby Hall). If I was the Dodgers there was no way that I would have made either trade, but the fact that they did take the first package at least allows for the possibility that the Phillies package could have worked although ultimately I agree with you that it was more of a case of wishful thinking than anything else. Good call.

I feel a bit more stongly about the Dellucci trade idea. Even if they had only been able to pick up Cabrera and nobody else for Dellucci, I would have been happy.

Both trades are very open ended and there are no right answers to the question of whether or not they could have actually have happened. That's what makes it fun and that's why I really appreciate the comment. Thanks for reading and hang in gotta believe that his past road trip was rock bottom for this team and there is nowhere to go but up from here (maybe?).

12:07 PM  

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