The Price for the Phillies Rotation
Ruben Amaro Jr. said this week he expects Joe Blanton to remain with the Phillies this season, which means the guy the Phillies slated to be their No. 3 starter in 2010 is their No. 5 starter in 2011. It shows just how much has changed in a year. The Phillies shipped 13 prospects and committed more than $255 million in salaries to have Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Blanton in the same rotation at the same time.
I know the Phillies traded away Lee in Dec. 2009, which remains a regrettable trade. But if the Phillies had not traded for Lee the first time and had he not enjoyed his experience here, he would not have taken less money to sign with the Phillies in December. He would have signed with the Yankees or Rangers instead.
Here is a look at the prospects the Phillies traded to make this rotation:
Catcher Travis d’Arnaud. MLB.com ranks him as the ninth-best catching prospect in baseball. Baseball America considers him the organization’s fourth-best prospect in its rankings. He certainly has the all-around skills to be a frontline catcher. In fact, including d’Arnaud in the Halladay deal gave the Phillies pause because of the dearth of catching depth in the organization and baseball.
Right-hander Kyle Drabek. The organization’s top prospect and one of the top 10 right-handed pitching prospects in baseball, according to MLB.com. He should have the opportunity to make the team out of Spring Training as the fourth starter. He earned Eastern League Pitcher of the Year honors last season, going 14-9 with a 2.94 ERA in 27 starts. In three starts with the Blue Jays in September, he went 0-3 with a 4.76 ERA. He never allowed more than three runs in those starts.
Outfielder Michael Taylor. The Blue Jays immediately traded Taylor to Oakland for Brett Wallace. Taylor had a .383 on-base percentage and a .515 slugging percentage during three seasons in the Phillies’ organization, but he never got on track last season at Triple-A Sacramento. He had a .372 on-base percentage, but just a .392 slugging percentage. Still, Baseball America considers him Oakland’s 10th-best prospect.
Right-hander Carlos Carrasco. He made strides last season. He went 10-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 25 starts with Triple-A Columbus before a promotion to the big leagues, where he went 2-2 with a 3.83 ERA in seven starts with the Indians. The Indians still see him with top-of-the-rotation potential.
Infielder Jason Donald. The Phillies always considered Donald a super utility player, which he basically was with the Indians last season. He played in 88 games, hitting .253 with a .312 on-base percentage and a .378 slugging percentage. The Indians still are trying to determine if Donald can be an everyday second baseman.
Right-hander Jason Knapp. He had the most upside of the four prospects. He still does. But after suffering a shoulder injury, the Indians are keeping their eye on him. But his potential is off the charts. In just 28 innings last season, he struck out 47 and walked 12. Baseball America considers Knapp the organization’s sixth-best prospect.
Catcher Lou Marson. It is hard to believe, but Phillies fans once considered Marson the heir apparent to Carlos Ruiz. But Marson struggled (.195/.274/.286) last season in 87 games with the Indians. He struggled (.202/.327/.371) with Columbus, too. Marson looks like a backup catcher at this point, but he has to improve offensively to stay in the big leagues.
Outfielder Anthony Gose. The Astros immediately traded Gose to the Blue Jays to get Wallace, who Oakland traded to the Blue Jays to get Taylor. The Blue Jays wanted Gose before the July 2009 trade deadline when the Phillies tried to land Halladay, but the Phillies balked. The Blue Jays got him now, and he is considered the organization’s third-best prospect and heir apparent to centerfielder Vernon Wells.
Left-hander J.A. Happ. He went 5-4 with a 3.75 ERA in 13 starts with the Astros. Asked about a player he wished he could have kept in these trades, Amaro quickly mentioned Happ. “He’s going to be a very good Major League pitcher,” he said. “Young, controllable pitching, there is a lot of value in that.”
Shortstop Jonathan Villar. Houston’s third-best prospect, according to Baseball America. The Phillies liked him before they traded him. He has tremendous tools, although he still needs work offensively.
Second baseman Adrian Cardenas. He could compete for a job at second base this spring. He hit .345 with three home runs and 32 RBIs in 51 games last season with Double-A Midland before hitting .267 with one homer and 21 RBIs in 58 games with Triple-A Sacramento.
Left-hander Josh Outman. He is expected to compete for the fifth starter’s job this spring. He was 4-1 with a 3.48 ERA in 14 appearances (12 starts) with the A’s in 2009 before blowing out his elbow and requiring Tommy John surgery.
Outfielder/first baseman Matt Spencer. The A’s traded Spencer, Jeff Gray and Ronny Moria to the Chicago Cubs before the 2010 season for Aaron Miles and Jake Fox. Spencer hit a combined .269 with 19 homers and 69 RBIs in 112 games with Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee. The Phillies considered him a fringe prospect before trading him.