Life has been pretty good for the Phillies of Philadelphia of late. 5 straight N.L. East titles. The best 1-2-3 pitching punch since the days of Maddux, Glavine, & Smoltz. An enviable core of homegrown infield talent. But the times, they are a-changing. The Braves may have the best collection of young pitching since, well, the Braves of the early 90's. With a shiny new ballpark and expectations of buku revenue flowing in, the Marlins are spending dinero like the proverbial drunken sailor. The Nats have a solid young core at the ML level already, and more than their fair share of minor league talent nearly ready to compliment it. And the Mets....well....they are a catastrophe at the moment. But they do have a well regarded G.M. in Sandy Alderson, so there's that.
My focus here is to make an offer to the Phillies which should help them fend off the barbarians at the gate of the N.L. East throne, and possibly help them bring another parade to Broad Street while their current window of opportunity is wide open.
The Phils have shown little hesitance over the past few years to trading their minor league prospects for major league talent. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee (his first go around with the club), and Hunter Pence each required hefty hauls in minor league talent to be acquired. The Orioles have two players, in particular, who could help the Phils immediately: J.J. Hardy and Jeremy Guthrie.
The Phils have an opening at SS at the moment. It does look likely that they will resign Jimmy Rollins. However, Rollins is 33 years old, and wants a 3-4 year deal. Signing Rollins to a deal like this would likely only exacerbate future problems with the Phillies' payroll, which is already expanding at a rate on par with the Big Bang. Enter: J.J. Hardy. The New-Old J.J. is signed for the next three seasons (his age 29-31 years) for $7M/per, and will almost certainly outperform Rollins over that time frame.
Another area of need for the Phils is, surprisingly enough, in their rotation. While Halladay-Lee-Hamals is formidable, there are still two additional vacancies to be filled. Vance Worley pitched very well for them last year, and he will likely claim one of those spots. Roy Oswalt was cut loose earlier this off-season, so they have a need for a competent starter. Enter: Jeremy Guthrie. Poor Guts, pitching well every fifth day in relative anonymity for our lowly Orioles. He would slot in quite nicely in the 4 spot for the Phils. And if he was feeling chippy, he could even still bike to work every day (ok, maybe not. That would be nearly 200 miles round-trip).
So, that is quite a haul for the Phils. it would certainly secure their status as front-runners in the N.L. What say we take a gander at what lurks in their farm system, hmm?
Unfortunately, all those big name trades from the past few years have left the Phils cupboard a might bit barren. Some cobwebs, some dust, a can of corn, some sardines. But sometimes you can cook up a nice little meal out of nothing spectacular. One area where the Phils do seem to have some intriguing young bucks is pitching, which, coincidentally, happens to be an area of need for our beloved O's.
Prior to delving into an examination of potential minor league targets for acquisition, I should state the first player to be sent in return to the O's would be Joe Blanton. 'Ole Joe is saddling the Phils with an $8.5M deal for the '12 season. By taking on his contract the O's would be able to extract some additional value in prospects.
Now, onto the prospects. First up is a LHP named Jesse Biddle. Both Sickles and Baseball America rank him as the Phils #2 prospect. He sported a nice 8.4 K/9 rate over 133 IP in the SAL last year. He would be a very nice compliment to Dylan Bundy. Next up, Phillipe Aumont. The Phils acquired him from Seattle in the Cliff Lee trade. Also a consensus top-10 prospect, the RHP Aumont has maintained a 9.6 K/9 over four MiLB seasons. He would bolster the O's bullpen immediately, and could slot in as our future closer. No better way to build a quality bullpen than with cheap, cost-controlled talent, am I right? Finally, as an throw in for the salary relief provide by taking on Blanton, I'd like to see Austin Hyatt included. He's already 25, and only in AA so far. But he sports a nice 11 K/9 over three minor league seasons through the use of a fantastic change-up.
So, there you have it: J.J. Hardy and Jeremy Guthrie for Joe Blanton, Jesse Biddle, Phillipe Aumont, and Austin Hyatt. A nice influx of young pitching for the O's, and two players sure to help the Phils try and make it back to the World Series. What think you, Chatters?