The Phillies and the Deadline
The trade deadline is less than a week away, so it seems like as good a time as any to examine the many players on the Phillies roster that could be dealt between now and July 31st. Should the Phillies deal steady starting pitcher and free agent to be Cory Lidle? Let's take a closer look:
Upside: Lidle is a little bit like the David Dellucci of the pitching world – he is at or near the top of the rather large group of second tier starting pitchers that come with a low price tag. Plus, Lidle has been hot as of late and has a well deserved reputation around the majors as a second half pitcher.
Downside: There isn’t much downside to dealing Lidle with regards to the Phillies immediate future (i.e. the 2006 season) assuming the Phillies dealing of him coincides with their unofficial concession of the ’06 season. The downside of dealing Lidle could potentially be felt come 2007 – do the Phillies dare risk going into 2007 with so many young question marks (Cole Hamels, Scott Mathieson, Ryan Madson, Gavin Floyd, etc.) in the rotation. Lidle is a free agent after the season, but the Phillies are in a position to offer him arbitration (again, much like Dellucci) and see how the situation plays out. Either he’d accept and return for a reasonable salary in ’07 or he’d sign elsewhere and net the Phillies a draft pick or two for their troubles.
One last thing to add to the 2007 rotation discussion…around this time last year I began having a weird suspicion that the Phillies big free agent addition to the pitching staff would end up being Tom Gordon. It made sense logically, there were quiet rumblings about it in the papers every now and then (mostly involving Gordon saying he’d only sign with a team with a vacancy at the closer spot), and, however unexplainable it may be, I just had a hunch. I’m beginning to have similar feelings about another pitcher who just so happens to currently call Yankee Stadium home. Time for my totally baseless, unfounded prediction of the season: next year’s Philadelphia Phillies opening day starter will be none other than Mike Mussina. Just a hunch.
Anyway…back to Cory Lidle.
Looking around big league rosters it seems that every team out there has a Cory Lidle-type or two currently in their rotation. It just so happens the Phillies currently have the original Cory and, like it or not, that isn’t so bad a thing in today’s baseball world. Lidle is a fine back of the rotation starter who still has another year or two of league average baseball in him.
Teams with Interest: Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Toronto Blue Jays
Hill and Marcum for Lidle might be an idea worth floating out there from a Phillies perspective, but any deal involving the Jays current starting second baseman would be contingent on
Pick an outfielder and a pitcher out of this group and make something happen. The Dodgers system is loaded with talent (with an intriguing group of third basemen scattered from AAA to short season ball), but the aforementioned group of prospects are all second tier kind of players (with the exception of Meloan). The Phils won’t be landing a Andy LaRoche or Russell Martin for Cory Lidle…though they might have had a shot at Dioner Navarro awhile back.
The Red Sox system really underwhelms me as a whole…I think it is one of the most overrated group of minor leaguers in the game. Their pitching is strong, but is full of “untouchable” players (i.e. Jon Papelbon, Jon Lester, Craig Hansen, and to a lesser extent Clay Bucholz and Mike Bowden). Their hitting is suspect, but more attainable for the Phillies - I doubt Jacoby Ellsbury or Dustin Pedroia will be any package for Lidle, so I went with an intriguing young outfielder in Yema and a third baseman having a rebound year in Spann.
My Deal: The Yema/Spann package intrigues me for some reason and I honestly can’t explain why…just a hunch about the two players, I suppose. It also could be that I couldn’t really find a good match with the Blue Jays or the Dodgers…I have no idea what kind of young players Cory Lidle will fetch, so I’m doing my best to stay conservative in my prognostications (i.e. no Dustin McGowan or Adam Lind for the Jays nor any LaRoche, Martin, Blake DeWitt, Joel Guzman, Scott Elbert, etc. for the Dodgers).
Final Verdict: I’m not sure exactly if any of the players or teams I mentioned here will be involved in any deal for Lidle, but I am fairly certain that Cory Lidle will no longer be a Phillie as of August 1st.