Assessing the Phillies Trading Chips
The Phillies are talking about trading some of their players.
Before we do this, let’s recall some of the Phillies great trades of great players:
1) 1918 – traded Grover Cleveland Alexander for several boxes of cashews and cash to the Cubs. He went on to win 300 games and go to the Hall of Fame. And win a World Series. the Phillies finished last 10 straight years.
2) 1930s – traded Chuck Klein Dolph Camilli and Lefty O’Doul for Cash and some Cracker Jack. Camilli became the MVP and led the Dodgers to the 1941 NL Pennants, Klein and O’Doul continued to hit for other clubs. The Phillies started to finish last every year.
4) 1950s – release Curt Simmons “because he could not pitch anymore.” – Curt Simmons came back to torture them in 1964 as a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals when the Phillies collapsed down the stretch. The Phillies could have used a third starter other than Bunning and Short–like Curt Simmons.
5) 1960s – traded Dick Allen for Curt Flood and three so so players – Curt Flood sued baseball and moved to some island in the Mediterranean rather than play in Philly, saying “he wasn’t a slave” and “Philly was racist”. Tim McCarver reported. Dick Allen went on to become MVP of the American League in 1972, and nearly led the Chisox to the AL West Divisional Title. The Phillies fell to last place–behind the Montreal Expos, an expansion team. Tim McCarver was traded for a used chevy and later re-signed with the Phils as a free agent.
6) 1980s – traded Ryne Sandberg, Larry Bowa and Gary Matthews to the Cubs for dog poop. The Cubs won the division twice, Ryne Sandberg became the greatest 2d baseman since Rogers Hornsby, and it would take until 1993 for the Phils to win a division again.
7) 1990s – The Phils traded Curt Schilling to Arizona for some table cloths and Vincente Padilla, a mexican-american actor impersonating a starting pitcher. Arizona immediately won the World Series. Later, Curt Schilling did the bloody sock thing with the Red Sox. The Phils also traded Scott Rolen to the Cards for Placido Polanco, who the Phils then traded to the Tigers for some used napkins. The Cardinals went on to win several pennants and two World Series, with Rolen as their 3d baseman. The Phils won one world series and lost another–with Pedro Feliz at 3d base. Basically, most of the 2000s was a highlight reel of Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen going to the World Series while the Phillies didn’t. And yes, those two are probably going to get into the HOF too.
so there’s your Phillies trading history in a nutshell.
Let’s take a statistical look at the actual value of their players.
1) Cliff Lee – Cliff Lee has a JAWs rating in the top 100 of all pitchers lifetime. He has achieved Pitcher WAR levels above 7.0 in several of his Phillies seasons, and has been the single best pitcher aside from Roy Halladay on the Phils’ staff the past few seasons. He works quickly and can hit and field his position. He and Cole Hamels were together worth more than 11 WAR last year collectively–which means, since the team won 70 games or so last year, that without Lee and Hamels, the team would have won around 59 games without them in 2013, and trading Lee and Hamels means the Phils will probably drop to around that level. He is easily the most valuable piece the Phils have to trade. He is is great shape, should pitch well for at least 3-5 years, and should fit well as a #1 on a contender. Lee’s ERA+ this year is 117 and his career ERA+ is 119. He is a great pitcher, 20% better than league at all times. Lee has had three years in the past where he was 160 plus ERA or 60% better than league, which is to say virtually unhittable, including 2011.
2) Cole Hamels – Cole Hamels has a JAWS rating in the top 120 of all pitchers lifetime. He’s five years younger than Lee, so he should get higher than Lee eventually. His established WAR levels are around 5.0 but he’s been higher in some seasons. He pitches 200 innings a year, and he’s a quality starter in the postseason. He’s been a #1 in the past, as well as a #2 and a #3, and he’s shown he can pitch under pressure. With the established WAR levels he has, he is a quality starter. A very valuable trading chip. Hamels is 131+ ERA this year, and his career ERA+ is 123, very similar to Lee, but slightly better. He’s been a bit more inconsistent than Lee, but in his good years Hamels puts up 130 plus ERA marks, in his off years he’s around league average, so he’s actually usually 30% better than league.
3) Chase Utley – Chase Utley is now #13 on the JAWS list alltime of 2d basemen, and has passed Roberto Alomar. He was the starting All-Star 2d baseman at age 35, and is currently the top offensive Phillie in WAR. With the renaissance he is having this season, he shows that he will continue to be an excellent hitter for some time to come. If he were traded to the Yankees or another AL club, Utley could be used somewhat like Jeter–resting some days by DHing–and could last until age 40–and most certainly will go into the Hall of Fame. He is a 10/5 player and has to waive those rights to be traded. Utley is a leader, and a clubhouse force. He’s exactly what the Yankees need as Jeter is on the brink of retirement.
4) Jonathan Papelbon – having a terrific season, nearly 2.4 WAR as a closer with 60 games to go. despite the big contract, he has an established WAR of 1.0 plus per season, and despite his contract of $10 million a year, he is a known quantity closer. Papelbon’s ERA+ this year is 317. Valuable to a contender needing a closer, and the Phils are ready to move Giles or Diekman into the closer role for less money. Moreover, Papelbon wants a trade. The most valuable and most likely to be traded.
5) Jimmy Rollins – right behind Utley in offensive WAR this year, having a great season. His defensive range has diminished, but he can still hit and run effectively, and among available shortstops, he is 2.5 WAR with 60 games to go. He currently is 34th on the JAWS list of Shortstops, and can move up still. Shortstops above and below him on the list are in the Hall of Fame, and he has done things sufficient to get to the Hall. An interesting fact is that Rollins plays 92% of the games each year, and has an established hit level of 150 hits a year, and is only 738 hits away from 3000. At his established hit level, he will reach 3,000 hits in just under five more seasons from now, at around age 40. The odds that he will continue to be productive and hit and field as a shortstop are fairly great; and he could also move over to second base and continue to hit and field and play until age 45 conceivably. He has home run power, alley power and is excellent from the left side. He would be a marquee addition to a contending ballclub. Rollins is a 10/5 player and would have to waive his no trade clause in order to be traded. The Yankees would be wise to trade for Rollins and Utley as a package to replace the retiring Jeter and whatever 2d baseman they have. Rolllins would hit 20 homers a year in the new Yankee Stadium, and Utley and Rollins would give tremendous leadership to the existing Yankees along with speed and veteran leadership.
6) Marlon Byrd – currently has WAR of 2.2 with 60 games to go. Ranks fairly high career wise on the all time CF list, in the top 120 JAWS list. has an established WAR of nearly 2.0 over 13 seasons. He can field, he can hit, and he can hit for power. He had a 4.0 WAR last year and is on pace for a 3.67 WAR this year at age 36. Normally a team should not trade for a guy this age, but Marlon Byrd is having his best years every right now, and he is a proven veteran. Watching him day in day out, he seems like a proven professional ballplayer. He seems very different than the rookie I say play here in the early part of the 2000s. Marlon Byrd gets good cuts on every at bat, always has a plan when he’s up, and seems to drive the ball, whether its into the alley or over the wall. He has a fairly inexpensive contract. An excellent trade piece for a team looking for a corner OF bat. Very likely to be traded, and will do an excellent job for any team that gets him. Helped the Pirates last year on their way to the playoffs.
7) AJ Burnett – even though the stats and peripherals don’t look impressive, Burnett has accumulated 1.0 WAR as a pitcher thus far, and that is with 60 games to go, so he’s on pace for about 1.4 WAR for the year. Not great, but not shabby. AJ Burnett has a lot of post season experience, and was helpful for the Pirates last year. He’s had some good outings this year, and for the right club with run support, he can go 5-7 innings. Significantly, he’s thrown by far the most innings of any Phillies starter, has 113 Ks in 136 IP, and even though the walks are high (as they are with him), he has allowed fewer hits than innings pitched, with a WHIP of 1.361. His numbers are a bit off, but his established WAR level in 16 seasons is 1.75–he’s had a couple seasons where he went 4.0 plus, but basically this is what he is, an innings eater who strikes out a lot of guys, but can also be a bit wild. He’s led the league in strikeouts, but also led the league in walks twice and wild pitches three times and batters hit by pitch once–he’s a classic hard thrower who has trouble locating. but his career ERA+ is 104+ and he can go out and give you a gem one game, and then blow up the next, as he did in 2009 with the Yankees in the World Series v the Phils, where he blew the Phils away in one Series game, but got torched in the other. He had a 4.4 WAR season for the Yanks that year, btw. AJ Burnett should be a great trade piece for the Phils to move. He’s a big game pitcher, a fastball pitcher who can throw hard and long, and a guy with World Series and playoff experience. He is the very definition of wily veteran.
This is about it for players of real value. The Phils essentially have three wily veteran pitchers – Lee, Hamels and Burnett–all of whom could make a huge difference in the pennant races. They have an established keystone combo in Rollins and Utley, which they should move as a unit, probably to the Yankees. And they have a power hitting slugging corner OF in Byrd, who can make a difference to a contender looking for a RH power bat.
The rest of the team is valueless. People may say Ryan Howard, but in fact, he has no value at all. At best, the Phils should move him to an AL club, but the better play would be for the Phils to lobby for a change in the rules so the NL gets a DH, so they can keep Howard and use him as a DH themselves, since they will pay his contract in any event.
Howard as a DH would be useful. Moving the entire NL to a DH would be useful, and the Phils have the votes. The cubs want a DH, as do several other NL clubs, and only a majority, e.g. 8 clubs, are needed. The Dodgers now have too many OFs, so they will vote for a DH. So Cubs, Phils, Dodgers. Then you have Brewers–they have lots of potential DH’s. They will go DH. They were in the AL before anyway. That’s four. The Mets get no offense, so they will vote DH. that’s five. The Marlins don’t care one way or the others, so that’s six. The Giants will want to play their MVP catcher Buster Posey at DH, so that’s seven. Cincinnati will definitely want to play Joey Votto at DH, so that’s eight. St Louis will want to play Allen Craig at DH, so thats nine. Colorado will want nine hitters period, so that’s ten. Arizona and the Padres can’t care so that’s 12. why Washington would object is beyond me, so that’s 13. that leaves the Pirates and the Braves, who might object, but who might not.
a big argument for going over to the DH is the fact that there is currently interleague play all the time, and the fact that all teams have a 25 man roster and need a lot of relievers. a DH means less pinch hitters, and thus you can keep 12-13 pitchers on your 25 man roster, and keep only 12 position players–you only need to sub out if a player is hurt, tired or you need to pinch hit in a specific situation. What you want in a DH lineup is nine regulars who can go every day, maybe with a platoon a one or two positions. You don’t pinch-hit, except maybe for poor hitting SS. So you can carry a lot of pitchers, and bring in relievers early.
Once you do this, you keep Ryan Howard around as a career DH, and just bring up Franco as your 1B, or 2B if you move Utley, and put Galvis at SS, and Ruf on 1B or Mayberry on 1B. Grady Sizemore can play RF, and Brown and Revere CF and LF. and you wait for all those new prospects to develop.