Deconstructing The Phillies: Starting Pitching

October 7th, 2014 by Mike H. | Filed under Baseball, Phillies.

After yet another horrendously obvious season, the Phillies finally know that something needs to change. Whether they act on that knowledge is a different story. As we wait to see how the winter unfolds for the Phillies, I thought I’d post some of my own ideas of how to “fix” this team. Along the way, other contributors will throw in their two cents as well. In the first week we’ll address the starting pitching. So for some drastic ideas, read past the jump.

Obviously one of, if not the biggest, chips the Phillies have to sell is Cole Hamels. Hamels has four guaranteed years left and $96M owed. 2019 is a club option year for $20M, so the max for Hamels under the terms of his current contract is five years and $110M. Teams looking for a front line starter will have multiple options this winter as Jon Lester (31), Max Scherzer (30), and “Big Game James” Shields (33) lead the way in what looks to be a very deep market for starting pitching. While acquiring one of these pitchers will at most only cost one of these teams money, and most likely a draft pick, none of which are very likely to accept a deal valued guaranteeing less than what Hamels is owed. Currently, I’d put the Rangers, Tigers, and Yankees in the mix for Hamels with the Cubs and Red Sox in the lead.

The Cubs and the Red Sox have the most of what the Phillies need. Young, talented players to help in the long-term. While you’d hope that any deal that the Cubs would offer is centered around right fielder Jorge Soler and pitcher C.J. Edwards, what more would you ask for after that? Javier Baez, who seemingly is displaced from the short stop position by incumbent Starlin Castro and heir apparent Addison Russell? Sure he could move to second base, but he is not what I’d call disciplined at the plate. If I’m GM (a phrase you’ll likely read multiple times between now and February), I use the Cubs and other teams to build a stronger deal with the Red Sox.

The Boston Red Sox primary problems going into 2015 directly imply a good fit with the Phillies. The Red Sox are looking for front end rotation pitching and have an abundance of outfielders. After the acquisition of Yeonis Cespedes, Allen Craig, and Rusney Castillo, they still have Shane Victiorino and Jackie Bradley Jr before looking further. The center pieces of any deal with the Red Sox would be starter Henry Owens and outfielder Mookie Betts. Those, I would hope, are musts. In addition to them, I’d be looking for outfielder Bryce Brentz, infielder/outfielder Brock Holt, and one of starting pitchers Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo, or Brandon Workman. The final piece from the deal I’d ask for is the rights to the Competitive Balance Round draft pick that the Red Sox acquired from the Oakland Athletics. That pick is in the Round B portion and would take place after the second round. It would most likely give the Phillies three picks in the top 100.

Sam Shipley feels that if Hamels can score you at least two top-tier prospects, then you have to trade Hamels if you are the Phillies. He also feels that the Phillies should attempt that ever rare intra-division trade, and offer Hamels up in a package that brings back Giancarlo Stanton back from the Miami Marlins. With Jose Fernandez and Jarred Cosart slotting behind Hamels and the up and coming talent that the Marlins possess, it would be hard to not pick them as a playoff contender in 2015.

Cliff Lee is all but certain to start the season with the Phillies. Heck, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Phillies traded Hamels to Boston that both Hamels and Lee are the Opening Day starters. The only way I see the Phillies trading Lee before Opening Day is if he is absolutely dominant in Grapefruit League action. I’ve got my questions about Lee, who will start a throwing program in November after being shut down for months for discomfort in his elbow. Granted some team could inquire on an extremely buy low type of trade, but at this point, I’d rather hold on to Lee and see if he can rebuild his value and try to move him at the trade deadline.

A.J. Burnett has to declare his intentions on declining or accepting his $12.75M option within a week or so of the conclusion of the World Series. My gut feeling is that there is no way he leaves close to $13M on the table. While Burnett was the major league leader, unfortunately, in walks and losses, a good majority of that is probably linked to hernia issues he’d been experiencing all season. Surgery should happen any day now, if it already hasn’t happened, and he should be ready for Spring Training too. Burnett looks to be another candidate to be traded to a very limited number of teams next July (or August).

David Buchanan is the only other pitcher who finished the season in the rotation with a good chance of retaining it. Buchanan will be a league minimum pitcher that is there just filling a spot until an Aaron Nola or Jesse Biddle is deemed ready to make the jump to the show. Sam and I both agree, that Kyle Kendrick needs to have seen his last day as a Phillie. Let someone else pay him to be mediocre at best.

If Hamels is in fact traded, the Phillies will have 3/5ths of their rotation filled internally. If my proposed deal lands Hamels from the Red Sox, whichever of Ranaudo, Webster, or Workman is acquired could fill the fourth spot in the rotation out. For the last spot, I’d invest into a low risk, high reward type. I’d definitely be interested in what Jerome Williams’ agent would want for a return to Philly.

Right now, I see the Phillies having a glaring need in the outfield and long-term needs in the infield. Trading Hamels to the Red Sox could potentially fill most of those needs without the Red Sox organization, or their fans, feeling taken advantage of. Operating under the idea of me being GM, the running tally of roster changes looks like this:

Rotation:

  • Cliff Lee
  • A.J. Burnett
  • David Buchanan
  • Anthony Ranaudo/Brandon Workman/Allen Webster
  • Free Agent

Subtractions:

  • Cole Hamels
  • Kyle Kendrick
  • Jerome Williams(?)

Additions:

  • Henry Owens
  • Mookie Betts
  • Brock Holt
  • Bryce Brentz
  • Anthony Ranaudo/Brandon Workman/Allen Webster

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