Philthy Traders: The Deadline Looms
By Justin Klugh
Well, here we are , my little chickadees.
Ticks from a trade deadline that could wash a wave of hope over this season, and rinse off the gritty layer of toxic grime festering on our precious Phillies.
In reality, where I’m often not, the Phils possess a multitude of issues, requiring a handful of GM’s seriously jeopardizing their marriages with their work ethic, a blank in each pocket and a wink from the baseball gods to assure them that slumps, injuries, and attitudes are a nonfactor, and will no longer be slithering into the clubhouse.
So. Here’s the hit list.
We don’t have it. What he had were debates on whether Doc would win 20 games in the NL East or 25. A 10-8 Roy Halladay is not the Roy Halladay we expected. But that’s just blaming the kids for a divorce. Roy’s not the problem. Nor is Cole Hamels, who has shown he can go deep, get outs, and old leads–and he can so it without throwing a hissy fit.
And behind the two of them is a floppy piece of Swiss cheese you just found behind the fridge. For god’s sake, man. Don’t eat it.
Joe Blanton is a victim of zero run support, but he also a guy who, when given the chance, will give up runs to good lineups. Or bad ones. Jamie Moyer, after pitching his heart into submission, went down. Kyle Kendrick finally screwed his last pooch and got a well earned demotion.
Leaving us on the prowl for the starters who may be/are looking for a home. Roy Oswalt would be a second (third?) ace, but love the Sun Belt and has a “No Means No” clause in his contract. James Shields, Ben Sheets, and Dan Haren are the names you’ve heard recently, and with Ruben Amaro thinking his job is to confuse and mystify the public like a Batman villain who just hacked onto the airwaves, it is hard to pin down where he’s dying to go. Shields gives up a lot of dingers. Haren hasn’t pitched ace-style ball this year, and he’s coveted by Detroit.
But the real question is, would anyone be willing to follow this garbage truck all the way to the dump? What championship cliber hurler is going to look at an almost .500, 3rd place team and think “I’d like to get me some of that!”
Sure, Oswalt and Haren are currently hitched to even worse crimes against baseball, but at this point, if they’re going to be playing for 2011 where they are now, why relocate immediately? The Phillies have more problems than any one starter could remedy. Why find the key to the door if there’s a hungry doberman on the other side?
This would be the second tier focus of Ruben Amaro’s 2010 trade campaign. Any incoming packages should include a reliever or two, just to see if the relief corps can freshen itself up with some new blood. They can bring up and send down young pitchers to and from the farm system all they want, but Drew Carpenter or Vance Worley is going to have the strength and mindset to shoulder the responsibilities of a bullpen with close to no dependability.
I understand the need for long relievers with the rotation in the shape that its in, but the changes made in the pen so far have been a Dora the Explorer band-aid on a gaping, gangrenous head wound. And Dora just doesn’t have the training for that.
There should be at least two guys out there with dependable relief work, but there’s just not. No lead is safe, and when leads are scarce to begin with, this makes things all the uglier. This is an area that needs to be addressed from wthin, by guys already in Phillies uniforms. Snaring a Heath Bell would be nice–and a bit shocking–but that’s one spot. It is asking a lot for this weakened rotation to go eight innings in every start, and on a team with a stellar starting five (or at least healthy and consistent), this pen would be a GM’s concentration. We just don’t have that luxury. Whoever we get will be a Bruntlett with the predominant Lidge, a Francisco tagging along with a Lee.
You know how you’ve got that friends who you knew would always be cool, but you didn’t see him all winter, and when you finally did, he was dating a girl who works at Trader Joe’s and makes him go to Animal Rights rallies on Saturday mornings and thinks its “immature” when his “asshole friends get drunk and try to knock over the port-a-potty with her inside”?
I don’t even know you anymore, Phillies.
Ruben Amaro is right to not focus on these guys, because they don’t deserve any help. They need to play with the talent that is in there. Sure, we can blame injuries… mainly Chase’s thumb… but we were an offensive team with pitching problems. Now we’re just bad. We’re a bad baseball team. And knowing what the lineup is capable of from guys like Werth and Victorino who aren’t pulling their weight is all the more frustrating.
It seems obvious that they just need to get their shit together, and maybe its simplistic to say that, but with the trade deadline, Amaro faces a frustrating issue. A GM needs to look at his biggest problems, and the offense only adds to them. They suck. Will they suck forever?
Jayson Werth won’t. At least not in a Phillies uniform.
The Phillies are an ecosystem, with each part feeding into the others. The pitchers can’t win without run support. The hitters can’t score runs without the pitcher holding the other team. The starters don’t get wins without relievers preserving the lead. And when each part is malfunctioning, with guys like Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Ryan Howard as endangered species, it makes a GM with limited funds a very frustrated man.
Good luck, Ruben. We’re all counting on you. Don’t screw up.
You should know, after the Cliff Lee thing: People don’t forget.