My analysis of the Oswalt trade

So, here we go. I have to admit, sitting down and thinking about blockbuster trades is a lot more fun than analyzing 6 year minor league free agents. And though you can call Ruben Amaro Jr a lot of things, passive isn’t one of them. Which is entertaining for everyone, me included. If you’ve just stumbled out of your cave and missed the news, the Phillies today acquired Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros for 3 players, including big leaguer JA Happ and two prospects, Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar. You’ve likely read lots of analysis already, but I’m going to slant mine toward the prospects side, as always, so if you’re interested, you can check below. I know the most common response to this thread will just be to use it as another sounding board for your personal take on the deal, which is fine, but I’d hope you at least give my breakdown a read before launching into your own take. With that said, check below and we’ll get to work.

Update 7:34 PM –> It was a long day. If there are typos, try and get past them. If I made any errors, I’ll correct them at the bottom of the post after you point them out. Thanks.

I’m going to try and stay on point here. I started thinking about how to write this piece last night, when we just had very sketchy details. In my head I wrote an intro which went about explaining why it was okay to trade Jon Singleton for Oswalt, or why it would be okay to trade Jarred Cosart for him. I wrote lots of different variations in my head, and then we got the actual deal, and I just kind of scrapped what I was thinking about and started over. I’ll divide my analysis up into very easy to read sections. I could easily write 10,000 words on this deal, because of the bigger picture items, but I’m going to try and summarize those and then dig into the more philosophical stuff at a later date.

The Phillies get Roy Oswalt

Over the last few weeks, I’ve read a lot of puzzling things about Oswalt, most of them passing remarks, and the consensus seemed to be that Oswalt was an over the hill, mediocre starter at the end of his career. Roy Edward Oswalt is 32, and will turn 33 at the end of August. Harry Leroy Halladay is 3 months older than Oswalt. Is Roy Halladay at the end of his career? I’ve also heard that Oswalt is injury prone and can’t be relied on. From 2004-2009, he averaged 217 IP per season. Yes, his IP have been declining, but last year was his lowest innings total since 2003, and he pitched 181 innings. Last year was Oswalt’s worst since that 2003 season, as he posted a 102 ERA+ with a 4.12 ERA in 181 IP, with 138 K and 42 BB. This season, he has already thrown 129 innings, with a 3.42 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 120 K to go with 34 BB. Oswalt’s xFIP of 3.45 this year is right in line with his career mark of 3.57. Oswalt is not Roy Halladay, he’s not Tim Lincecum. But he’s a damn good pitcher.

$11M in cash. Which is one of the most staggering parts of this deal. Oswalt makes $15M this year, $16M next year, and then has an option that is now complicated for 2012. For now, just focus on 2010 and 2011. The financial obligation to Oswalt, should he opt out of his option in 2012 (or the Phillies decline) is about $23.5M. Figure $5.6M for the rest of 2010, $16M in 2011, and then at the minimum, $2M for his buyout. The Astros sent $11M in an armored truck. That means that you can wipe the $5.6M he’s owed for the rest of this year. And $5.4M off his 2011 contract, meaning he’ll only really earn about $10.5M next year. According to Fangraphs’ WAR valuation, Oswalt has been worth 2.7 wins so far in 2010, and is on pace to pitch another 80 or so regular season innings. Projecting out his past performance in 2010 to the rest of his 2010, he’d be worth another 1.7 wins, give or take. If you assume the value of a win is $5M (which seems to be the conventional thought these days), Oswalt will be “worth” about $8.5M for the rest of 2010, and that’s regular season wise. If he’s a 4 win pitcher next year, he’s “worth” $20M. The Phillies will be paying about half of that.

The Astros receive LHP JA Happ, OF Anthony Gose, and SS Jonathan Villar

As a big believer in advanced metrics, notably defense independent pitching statistics, I was always skeptical of JA Happ. Michael Schwimer, esteemed minor leaguer and phuturephillies contributor, presented his theory on why JA Happ is successful, and it certainly deserves merit, yet I was always skeptical. Happ features an average fastball which he likes to elevate, as well as a good changeup and a fringe slider. He served the Phillies well in 2009, pitching 166 innings and logging a 2.93 ERA despite modest peripherals. This season he’s battled injuries since spring training, and has only just recently made it back to the majors after struggling on his minor league rehab assignments. Happ, 27, is older than most people think, as he is often labeled a “cheap, young option”, and while he is cheap, he isn’t really that young anymore. 2011 will be Happ’s age 28 season, and he is a finished product with limited upside. Still, he will be a good #4 in a rotation like Houston’s, and he shouldn’t be arbitration eligible until 2012, and he won’t be a free agent until 2015. Happ is the type of guy who provides you good value until he reaches his 2nd arbitration year, when his contract may start to outpace his modest, #4 starter production. A 4th round pick in 2004, the Phillies certainly got maximum value out of a slot signing.

Anthony Gose, a 2nd round pick in 2008, drew a somewhat surprising assignment to Lakewood in 2009 and put up a solid season, stealing a whopping 76 bases in 96 attempts, while posting a .676 OPS. Moved up to Clearwater in 2010, he’s improved in several facets of his game, hitting for a higher average, drawing walks at a greater rate, and hitting for more raw power despite playing in a very pitcher friendly league. The one aspect of his game that has gone backwards is his base stealing, as he’s stolen 36 bases but has been thrown out 27 times. Recent reports indicate that Gose is continuing to learn the base stealing trade, realizing he needs to steal bases more on technique and feel now instead of just his raw speed. His outfield defense is well above average, and he has a cannon for an arm. He profiles offensively as a center fielder, but he has the arm of a right fielder as well as elite range. At just 19 (turning 20 in August) he is very young for the FSL, and has tons of time to figure out the rest of his game. He has elite upside and has drawn Carl Crawford comparisons for his physical tools. Of course, the gap between where he is now and Carl Crawford is immense. I ranked Gose 5th on my pre-season Top 30 prospects list, and kept him 5th in my midseason Top 15.

Jonathan Villar, signed for $105,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2008, has proven to be an incredible find for the Phillies. Despite being one of the youngest players in the NYPL last season, he posted an encouraging .700 OPS showing good speed, the ability to draw a few walks, and getting solid reviews for his defensive chops. The Phillies moved him to Lakewood this season, where he was again very young for his league, and he responded by improving his game across the board, stealing 38 bases in 51 attempts. Villar’s raw tools are excellent, and despite the 42 errors, scouts love his defensive ability, citing excellent range and a really strong arm. He’s still very young and will make the occasional mental mistake, but he has the tools to be a solid starter in the big leagues. Like Gose, the gap in his present status and his future projection is massive. I ranked Villar 18th heading into the 2010 season, and bumped him up to 13th in my mid-season Top 15.

How does this deal help the Phillies?

This part should be obvious. The Phillies acquired a solid #2 caliber starter and will pay him substantially less than he should be worth over the next 1.5 seasons, maybe more, and to do so they gave up a #4/5 starter and 2 prospects. In the playoffs, the depth of your rotation is not as important as the quality at the top of your rotation, which the Yankees displayed last year by not using a 4th and 5th starter at all. This year, however, 4th starters will be more important with the re-configured schedule. Oswalt bumps Joe Blanton to the 4th spot. Blanton has been really unlucky this season on balls in play, and has been the victim of an unsustainably (thankfully!) high home run per fly ball rate. Over his last 6 or so starts he’s started to pitch better, and you have to assume, based on his track record, he’s closer to a 4.25 ERA pitcher than a 6.50 ERA pitcher. Missing a month at the beginning of the season didn’t help. ANYWAY, the Phillies now sport one of the best Top 3′s in baseball, and Oswalt should give them an excellent chance of reaching the playoffs and then doing damage if they get there. Oswalt essentially replaces Happ, who was coming off an injury and who looked rather shaky in his last start. There is no way to know how Happ would have pitched in Philly, only how he will pitch in Houston, and we’ll see how Oswalt pitches. But its an upgrade not only for 2010, but also for 2011, where the Phillies will be getting a potential $20-25M pitcher for about $10.5M. Thats important because…

The economics of the deal

The Phillies have a ton of money tied up into their major league roster for 2011, 2012 and beyond. The Phillies would not have been able to sign a free agent this winter of Oswalt’s caliber, for a 1 year $10.5M deal (or 1 year, $12.5M if you count the potential buyout), and they weren’t going to get a player of Oswalt’s ability for free for the rest of the year without giving up talent. This deal, with the $11M in cash, allows the Phillies to retain everyone on their current roster for the rest of the season, and it also allows Amaro to potentially add a bullpen arm, a bench bat, or something else heading into the July 31 deadline and then the August waiver deadline. As we’ve seen in the past, these guys (Scott Eyre comes to mind) can have a huge impact. Getting the money from Houston certainly helps this year and next year. The Phillies do not have an unlimited budget, and even if payroll rises to $150M like I projected a while back, they still need to save where they can.

For so long, the Phillies were considered a cheap organization. They now sport one of the highest payrolls in baseball, even with teams sending them cash. Its actually amazing, when you think about it, that the Blue Jays and Astros are paying the Phillies to have Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt in the starting rotation. The Phillies paid in prospects, of course, but getting the money kicked in is certainly a tangible asset that has to be accounted for.

The impact on the farm system

As I mentioned above, I had Gose ranked #5 heading into the season, and Villar #18. I kept Gose at 5 and moved Villar up to #13 in my updated mid-season ranking. Which means the Phillies were able to protect all of their elite prospects; Domonic Brown (still a prospect), Jarred Cosart, Jon Singleton and Brody Colvin. Villar was the Phillies best middle infield prospect by a sizeable margin, but the gap in where he was and the majors is vast, and he can be replaced at some point. Gose is one of many high upside outfielders in the system, a group which still contains Jiwan James, Tyson Gillies, Domingo Santana, Aaron Altherr, and Kyrell Hudson, and that list doesn’t include the 2010 draft picks. There was no mortgaging of the farm. No elite prospects were traded.

At this time last season, when the Phillies were trading for Cliff Lee, people were convinced the farm was in big trouble after trading 4 guys. Then, when Amaro traded Drabek, Taylor, and D’Arnaud for Halladay, it was again going to be a gutting of the system. Then, when the 3 prospects acquired for Cliff Lee got off to slow starts, the Phillies system was again on the downswing. And yet, here we are, and the Phillies still possess 4 elite prospects in Brown, Singleton, Cosart and Colvin. If Brown loses his eligibility this season, the Phillies top 3 is still Cosart (top 25 in baseball, or close), Singleton (to 50-75ish), and Colvin (Top 100). It really is amazing. The Phillies have traded for 3 elite starting pitchers, and still have an extremely strong system, both in terms of current elite guys, and guys who could become elite prospects. At this time last year, Jon Singleton wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Even last winter, Kevin Goldstein said to temper expectations. And now, there’s no stopping him, and he’s untouchable to many. Which brings me to…

The real purpose of prospects

I think some people here tend to lose sight of the fact that the goal of any organization is to win games at the big league level. Everyone loves falling in love with prospects. Seeing a guy like Domonic Brown come through the system, then make it to the majors is a really rewarding feeling. But for every Domonic Brown, there are 50 guys who will never make it, or never contribute. Prospects are like stocks. You do your research (scouting), you decide whether to buy the stock (drafting/signing international market), and then you continue to do your research and decide whether to keep the stock or sell it. If you buy the right stocks, and everything goes as planned, you hold onto that stock. The Phillies did this with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and others. In some cases, you realize that the stock you have might be valuable to trade for another stock. You look at the value of what you’re giving up, compared to what you’re getting. If something happens to the value of your asset before you have a chance to trade it for another valuable asset, you may never get a chance to receive value for it. The Phillies spent $200,000 on Jon Singleton, $772,000 on Anthony Gose and $105,000 on Jonathan Villar, in terms of signing bonuses. They turned that $1.1M investment (and the $175K or so Happ got way back in 2004) into Roy Oswalt and $11M in cash. Anthony Gose may turn into a star. He may provide $50M in value (to the Blue Jays, not the Astros, since he’s been traded again) and the Phillies may end up not getting the max for him, but if Roy Oswalt helps them win division title #4 and #5, and World Series #2, the Phillies won’t concern themselves with what Gose ends up being worth.

But what about Cliff Lee?

If you’re a regular here, you know that I’m tired of discussing Cliff Lee. But the lazy journalists out there keep bringing it up. They keep saying things like “they could have just kept Cliff Lee”, ignoring the fact that that the Oswalt deal is just as much about 2011 as it is 2010, and that Cliff Lee would not have given the Phillies more than 2 draft picks in 2011. They ignore that the Phillies had a budget, and that with Lee here, Joe Blanton isn’t extended, and we only have 2 potential starters locked up in 2011. They lose sight of the fact that the 3 prospects the Phillies received for Lee have not been given adequate opportunity to show their future worth. Just as Anthony Gose may turn into a star for the Blue Jays, any of the 3 guys the Phillies received for Lee may turn into a star.

Look, heres the thing. And if you take only one thing from this piece, I hope this is it. The Cliff Lee deal is done. Most people agree that Amaro should have either a.) Kept Lee or b.) Gotten more in return. But that deal is done. Its not going to be undone. So since Amaro may have botched that deal, should he not bother trying to make other deals to improve the team? As a GM, every deal you make needs to be evaluated in a vacuum. Does this deal make our team better should be the driving force. The Roy Oswalt deal makes the Phillies better, so its a deal you should make. Keeping Cliff Lee would have made the 2010 Phillies better. So that was a missed chance. But its done. You move forward, and if you’re Ruben Amaro, you continue to try and make the team better. And he did. Not every move is going to work out. But I’m someone who appreciates the process as much (or more) than the results, and I think Amaro’s approach in the case of Oswalt is fine. When you’re proactive and aggressive, you’ll make mistakes. But if you do your best to rectify the mistakes, its hard to find fault in your approach.

I guess I can only beg and plead so many times. Just move on. Cliff Lee isn’t pitching for the Phillies this year. And he’s not going to pitch here next year. That’s because the Phillies don’t give out more than 3 years guaranteed to pitchers, and Lee is going to get at least 5 years. Cliff Lee is awesome. I’d have liked him here this year. But it didn’t happen. It won’t happen. And wishcasting isn’t going to make it happen. No one knows how he’d have pitched if he’d have been here. Its make believe land. In the real world, the Phillies just improved their team for 2010 and 2011, without mortgaging their future.

Conclusion

This deal is a clear win for the Phillies. Both prospects the Phillies gave up are 3-4 years away from making it to the major leagues, and probably even further away from being above average big leaguers. The beta, or the risk, is extremely high on both guys. Both could be stars, and both could end up getting stuck in AAA. The most common criticism I read is that the Phillies are “getting really old” and that they have to “keep their younger players”. I agree that young talent is needed to sustain this run of awesomeness. But the Phillies still have an abundance of talent in the minor leagues. If Jon Singleton continues to rake, he’ll maintain his elite trade value, and in 2 years, if the Phillies need a shorstop, or a left fielder, or a starter, or whatever else it is they need, they’ll have the prospects to go get them. Established major leaguers are a safer bet than prospects, no matter how much you love the prospect. For every elite stud, there are 50 guys that never make it, even though all the major prospect outlets were convinced they were on the way to stardom. The path to the hall of fame, or even an above average big league career, is a path not often traveled.

Here is where I give you my unedited opinion. The Phillies are a model franchise, and if you can’t appreciate what they are doing, then I think you’ll never appreciate anything the franchise does. 3 straight division titles. A World Series ring. The best pitcher in baseball begging to come to your team and signing a below market level deal. A stocked farm system. One of the best scouting departments out there, which consistently finds under the radar bargains and steals in the draft, and a Latin American program churning out solid prospects for $100-300K a pop, while other teams are spending huge 7 figure amounts and seeing less return for their investment. A packed ballpark, and a payroll near the top of baseball. 10 years ago, the Phillies had to beg overpriced, average free agents to come to the team. Now, players can’t wait to play here. This trade sets the Phillies up to make a big run at another division, another pennant, and another world series ring. And they kept their best prospects. This was an awesome trade.

105 thoughts on “My analysis of the Oswalt trade

  1. Well said, James. We have now acquired 3 aces in a year and still have Cosart, Colvin, Singleton, and Brown, all studs, not to mention James, Gillies, May, Valle, et al. While I like Happ, we were counting on him this year for the first time and he broke down. For my money, that is a really big reason we have struggled all year long. Kudos go out to the staff bringing guys in to the minors. I have said many times that the farm is loaded with potential, whereas 15 years ago the entire system was filled with mediocre white guys with no ceiling. Ruben has just peaked my interest for the rest of the year. Let’s go win the damn thing again!

  2. Great read as always..I love your unique perspective….also just wanted to let you know that the buyout is now 3 million. It was upped from the original 2 million for the deal to get approved by Roy.

  3. At this rate we are going to need a separate site just to keep track of ALL the prospects the Phills sent packing, not complaining though.

    Great write up.

  4. Mostly trades have been fine. It’s the mid to lower level FAs that have hurt the club.

  5. pp nice writeup, I was wondering when you said today if they trade singleton for oswalt you be okay with it, now kind of understand,

  6. So, you like the deal I take it?

    I mean, because it was an absolute Grand Slam that helps us for the next 1.5 years.

  7. There are times when the Minor Leagues seem to mirror the Majors. An example can be seen this season in Lakewood, where the first-place BlueClaws own the South Atlantic League’s best overall record at 63-39.
    Playing in front of full houses at FirstEnergy Park, the BlueClaws are led by a lefty-hitting first baseman who has posted strong numbers in the Triple Crown categories. If the scenario sounds a bit like Ryan Howard manning the first turn at Citizens Bank Park, Jonathan Singleton will take it as the ultimate compliment.
    “Ryan Howard was always one of my favorite players while I was in high school,” said Singleton. “Howard, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez were the guys I always liked. I had a chance to talk with him in Spring Training, and we talked about a lot of things. That was a great experience.”

    Any words of wisdom Howard may have passed along have taken root on the farm. After spending the first six weeks of the season in extended spring training, Singleton has emerged as one of the primary forces in the middle of Lakewood’s lineup and one of the top offensive prospects in the Phillies organization. He ranks second in the Sally League in batting average (.319) and on-base percentage (.425) and is tied for second with a .536 slugging percentage.

    He also tops the BlueClaws with 12 home runs and is tied for second with 57 RBIs, two behind outfielder Leandro Castro. Add his 43 runs scored, 18 doubles and 44 walks, and it’s easy to see why Phillies fans are starting to pay attention to what’s happening about an hour east of Philadelphia.

    “I’m loving every moment of the season,” Singleton said. “I feel like things have been going good. I’m hitting the ball well, and I’m just trying to keep it up for the entire year.”

    Singleton joined the organization in 2009 as an eighth-round pick out of a high school in Long Beach, Calif. He attracted strong attention on the showcase circuit in summer 2008 before slipping in the eyes of some scouts during his senior season, when he batted .321. The Phillies, however, liked the potential in Singleton’s bat and wound up signing him for a reported $200,000 bonus.

    He reported to the Gulf Coast League and posted 29 hits, including two homers and nine doubles, in 100 at-bats last season. Singleton continued to show promise in all phases of the game during instructional league, where the Phillies worked on shortening his swing to generate more contact and fewer strikeouts. After a solid showing in Spring Training, he remained in Florida in April and the first half of May to hone his defensive skills.

    Singleton’s father, Herb, played quarterback at the University of Oregon and led the Ducks with 1,333 passing yards and 10 touchdowns in 1973. Jonathan played football as a freshman in high school before giving his undivided attention to the diamond. The 18-year-old’s immediate goal centers on winning the league title, while his long-term desire is to play alongside the game’s best players he has long admired.

    “I’ve always wanted to be the best in whatever I was doing,” Singleton said. “I’ve had great expectations for a long time, and now I’m just trying to get better and better. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m just trying to take everything in stride.”

    1. I don’t know why people are snyaig that the Blanton deal was bad. He was entering his final year of arbitration, he was going to get at least $7M. So the Phillies gave him 3 years $25M, and bought out 2 FA years. That is market rate for a #3 pitcher who eats innings. A bad deal is when a team gives either too much money per year or too many years.Giving Ibanez 3 years instead of 2 years is a bad deal. And at this point, giving Ryan Howard 5 years may not look too good later.The fact is, not everybody is going to have good years in every single year of his contract. You can’t say it’s a bad deal just because he’s having a bad year.

  8. one of your best write-ups for me and i could not agree more with your entire analysis…great piece and site James!

  9. Your take on the Cliff Lee deal, and the aggressive approach to correct the issue was spot on. Related to that, your comment that “if you can’t appreciate what they are doing, then you probably will never appreciate anything…” is one of the truer things you’ve ever written on this blog.

  10. Great analysis, love the trade, gonna miss villar but we get oswalt and thats what prospects are for.

  11. Especially agree with your final point that people need to realize this is probably the best era for Phillies baseball in the history of the franchise. Not only have they had a top-5 ML roster in place from 2007 through 2011 but their farm system appears to have several top-notch prospects ready to move them forward from 2012 on.

  12. Excellent, excellent article. Mentioned a lot of the same things when posed the question today, “Isn’t this Amaro admitting he screwed up the Lee trade?” Whether you like his personality or not, the guy has aggressively sought to make this team better and has done it while not only not pillaging the farm system, but actually watch it rise pretty meteorically in the view of most people.

    Just a couple years ago, the biggest debate at this time of year would be whether giving up Matt Maloney for {insert fungible pitcher} was worth it…think about it–a week ago, Oswalt reportedly did not want to come here and was demanding his option get picked up. We just got him (a) to come here, (b) to drop the demand to have the option picked up, (c) without giving up elite prospects and (d) with the Astros paying half of what he’s owed going forward.

    In all honesty, reading the few opinions that are iffy on the trade because they “like” Happ or that Villar’s the only SS propsect or that we should’ve just kept Lee strikes me as the ramblings of people who are not used to being fans of an elite franchise.

  13. The Phillies are a model franchise, and if you can’t appreciate what they are doing, then I think you’ll never appreciate anything the franchise does. 3 straight division titles. A World Series ring. The best pitcher in baseball begging to come to your team and signing a below market level deal. A stocked farm system. One of the best scouting departments out there, which consistently finds under the radar bargains and steals in the draft, and a Latin American program churning out solid prospects for $100-300K a pop, while other teams are spending huge 7 figure amounts and seeing less for their return. A packed ballpark, and a payroll near the top of baseball. 10 years ago, the Phillies had to beg overpriced, average free agents to come to the team. Now, players can’t wait to play here. This trade sets the Phillies up to make a big run at another division, another pennant, and another world series ring. And they kept their best prospects. This was an awesome trade.

    BOOM. Love it.

  14. Being a Phillies Phan since 1964 I can say this is truly the Golden Age of this franchise. Sometimes people in Philly get very negative trying to find fault with something, anything. The Phillies are the a model franchise. We are very lucky to enjoy this and I have to say, this site makes it even more enjoyable to share the passion the fans have.

    It’s a great trade on so many levels. Great explanation James.

  15. Great summary phuturephillies. I love the trade but I’m upset about the Gose-Wallace deal. I know the situation has changed but we basically gave up Taylor when Gose has the same value from Toronto’s perspective. It wouldve been nice if we could have kept Taylor and gave up Gose initially but it is a different situation now.

  16. James -

    Your last paragraph sums up the Phillies perfectly. I ask any long time Phillies fans if they ever thought they’d be able to say that about the team.

    Great trade. Great analysis of the trade

    - Jeff

  17. I know this is a prospect site but I certainly appreciate your description that purpose of prospects is to make the major league team better by trade or promotion. I totally agree that ‘prospect upside’ can get blown out of proportion. It appears that is happening at the Major League level as teams are so cost/control conscious. Granted there appear to be more superstar rookies this season than in the last decade or so. However I think the Phillies are using that currency for proven players and can take on those salaries. (The other team ‘cashing in’ prospects is the Rangers.)

  18. Now THAT’S what I’m talking about PP. Too many are looking to find fault around every corner (buster olney) and miss the beauty of the day.

    I realized during the course of the day that RAJ has a pretty good plan for today and tomorrow. He has light reinforcements stationed in AA and AAA, ready to be here next year. But better than that, he has an entire ARMY going through basic training in Lakewood. That battalion is the new gaurd that should quell fears of the Phightins getting old at the ML front.

    Today is a good one my friends.

  19. I tend to prefer higher level (AA & AAA) prospects because I believe they have more past history for evaluation. Trading high ranking low level prospects is risking for both teams. However, from the Phillies perspective the immediate return makes the future benefit almost inconsequential.
    For example, acquiring Blanton, cost the Phillies their best prospect at the time, a middle infielder that could hit, but he was in A ball. That seems like forever ago and even if Cardenas plays 6 years, makes the all-star team, and yields two picks for the A’s in FA, will the Phillies think it was a bad trade?

    I am still disappointed that it was Villar instead of Worley. Yes, I know you can never have too much pitching ,but I have a soft spot for elite speed middle infielders. Even if they never hit, they make great bench players as defensive subs and pinch runners. However, Worley looks like he could compete for the 5th starter next season and could become the new JA Happ.
    Gose projects to Victorino doesn’t he? Elite speed, rocket arm, questionable instincts, and some power. He could be more than that of course. As many pointed out, depth-wise he can be replaced but he was years away from contributing, just as all the A-level guys are.
    My experience bias preferred that Knapp and not Happ was traded last season. This time Happ was the experience while Gose and Villar the projection. The Phillies pitching staff could be quite expensive in 2012.

  20. I also agree the ending really hit that post out of the park. About halfway through i was going to say how the only worry i have is that most of the talent left is in the low minors, but if a gose can turn into a guy almost ready at AAA (Wallace) then really as long as we have chips to trade somewhere then this organization will stay strong for a long time. Even if we have 5 OF and no middle IF prospects, then if need be flip a Gillies or Alther for a Rollins replacement, we would still have a few good OF prospects left. Also, in terms of all the deals we have made of the last few years, i like to look at it like this: Better scenario, watching Lee in the WS last year or still having donald to fill in for utley. easy call. Having Drabek open the season at AAA or Halladay open for the phils. easy call. watching Gose steal bases in A ball or watch oswalt pitch for philly down the stretch. (i saw he is something like 73-25 after the all star break the last few years. sorry i forget the exact stat.) point being is we still have chips and the big club is still in it to win it. Lastly, i feel make believe land gets a bad rap on this site. i live there currently and will not move out until i finish my couch cushion fort.

  21. great article, couldn’t agree more! I think the real genius is the head of scouting.. send him a long term contract with a “no leave clause” please!

  22. PP,
    Just a minor point, you mention turning the $200K spent on Singleton into Oswalt. Can update with $105K spent on Villar but the point is the same.

  23. As I said elsewhere, I like this trade, even though I’m high on all three guys we traded.

    In terms of the Phils being a model franchise, I’d like to pick just a couple of nits:

    1. the Phils have a great scouting staff, yet consistently spend in the lower half of the league in signing bonuses in the draft, and are relatively frugal in the international signing market. Give the darn scouts more money, please.

    2. Pay attention to the aging of the major league team, and sign decent back-ups in their 20′s, not their late 30s. Or else you’ll end up with everyone injured like the Mets last year.

    3. Pay at least a tiny bit of respect to sabermetric analysis. Every piece of reliable information gives us an advantage.

    Otherwise, yes, we’re doing lots of things right. Oswalt trade is almost certainly a win for 2010 and 2011.

  24. Thanks for the article. Anybody who thinks critically understands the coup that was pulled here, but you carefully put all the reasons for that conclusion into one, fairly succinct article. It was spot on right. Good job.

  25. I have stated my bitterness about the whole cliff Lee deal before, but this deal is an absoulute grandslam for the phils. They give up basically a 3/4 starter for a 1/2 starter and 11 million. The prospects they gave up while they have upside r easily replaceable, as evidenced by the improvements in the system from last year when it was supposably depleated. A lot can happen in 3-4 yrs that it was going to take for the prospects to develop. I think this deal is exactly why this organization is the polar opposite of the eagles. Yes RAJ made a mistake by trading Lee, but he didn’t sit there and try to prove to everyone that he was right, he went out and made the phils better, Congrats to him. This is akin to Andy Reid going and trading for say Carson Palmer if he realized that kolb wasn’t the answer, and although this is a phillies site every one here knows that wouldn’t happen and the reason why the phils r the gold standard not only in this town but probably in the entire national league.

  26. I’ve been on your site for the draft and today during this coverage and you do an excellent job and have developed a great community here. Great article.

  27. I didn’t believe Ed would trade Gose but he has. Ed loves guys who can run even most of his choice couldn’t play baseball(remember Ducey etc.)

  28. great insight on the trade, by the way rizzotti needs to move up to AAA because he is not even getting pitched to anymore in AA, 16 walks in his last 10 games

  29. Dear PP,

    Upper Deck Trade. Upper Deck Last Paragraph.

    Could you please take that last paragraph and put it in a TAB up top?

    I was 10 years old when I first rooted for the 1964 Phillies so you can
    imagine how that shaped my view of later fans who whine and cry.

    I was also lucky enough after college to witness the First Golden Era,
    1975-78 and 80, and 83.

    I do so understand how psychically destroyed all younger fans were who
    followed the Low Revenue – Bad end of the Vet Contract – combined with
    incompetence on a grand scale by the front office 1984 – 2000 – only interrupted
    by the wonderful 1997 World Series Softball Looking Team who’s hopes were
    dashed by Joe Carter’s HomeRun. Schilling’s Run against the Braves Lost to history.

    These folks are deeply scarred. Combine them with the front runners who like those I hated on the playground as a child who said they rooted for whatever team
    was in the World Series that year, and you get a group who A) Cringe when a signing goes wrong or B) Move on when the Team is not Winning.

    If I may add to your Brilliant Paragraph, the Era that we are now reaping -
    began with Pat Gillick teaching and cajoling the current ownership into the 21st Century, and Ruben Amaro has followed up and learned his lessons well from Obi Wan Gillick.

    We are Lucky to be having Golden Age II now, if there is a chance for it to continue, it will come as the Farm System continues to sow and reap.

    Thanks Again for everything PP!

  30. Dear PP,

    Upper Deck Trade. Upper Deck Last Paragraph.

    Could you please take that last paragraph and put it in a TAB up top?

    I was 10 years old when I first rooted for the 1964 Phillies so you can
    imagine how that shaped my view of later fans who whine and cry.

    I was also lucky enough after college to witness the First Golden Era,
    1975-78 and 80, and 83.

    I do so understand how psychically destroyed all younger fans were who
    followed the Low Revenue – Bad end of the Vet Contract – combined with
    incompetence on a grand scale by the front office 1984 – 2000 – only interrupted
    by the wonderful 1997 World Series Softball Looking Team who’s hopes were
    dashed by Joe Carter’s HomeRun. Schilling’s Run against the Braves Lost to history.

    These folks are deeply scarred. Combine them with the front runners who like those I hated on the playground as a child who said they rooted for whatever team
    was in the World Series that year, and you get a group who A) Cringe when a signing goes wrong or B) Move on when the Team is not Winning.

    If I may add to your Brilliant Paragraph, the Era that we are now reaping -
    began with Pat Gillick teaching and cajoling the current ownership into the 21st Century, and Ruben Amaro has followed up and learned his lessons well from Obi Wan Gillick.

    We are Lucky to be having Golden Age II now, if there is a chance for it to continue, it will come as the Farm System continues to sow and reap.

    Thanks Again for everything PP!

  31. James, AMEN!

    Interesting, if you use Brett Wallace as a measuing stick then Gose = Michael Taylor.

    I wish the absent Phillies prospects good luck and Thank You for the bounty they brought.

  32. Really liked this read. Despite the Lee trade (I am on the side that we should have gotten more, but I agree with it in principle), and a few terrible signings RAJ has done a pretty good job with this team.

    Here’s to maintaining that!

  33. This synopsis is award-worthy… and I mean that. Great job…

    It’s all about money… best part of your assessment: there is no way that we could have picked up a pitcher of Roy Oswalt’s caliber in 2011 at $10.5 million. Brilliant point…

    Re: Lee- if Lee wasn’t in the budget this year, there’s nothing that Amaro could have done to keep him short of not signing Halladay. None of us knows what the budget really looks like; Rube’s plan all along may have been to cruise into the stretch with what he had and make a splash at the deadline… we really don’t know. I think we all recognize that Halladay and his tempered salary demands is far better than Lee and the unknown.

    I do agree with Clyde though; I get why the Lee deal had to happen, in principle, but I’m not sure that Amaro did everything he could to maximize return (the fact that a half-year of Lee’s services landed the Mariners Justin Smoak and three minor leaguers tells me that Amaro should have done better).

    Regardless, this deal is a great one for the Phillies… we all wish JA Happ the best but like you said, his upside is limited as he’s already a finished product… most likely a fourth starter. For Houston, they get a guy that they can control in Happ, they flip Gose for a blue chip prospect (Brett Wallace) and can develop Villar into their shortstop of the future. Great deal for us, good deal for them in terms of prospect and good deal for Oswalt who gets to play meaningful games in September.

  34. Great Article.

    If I may, I would I would like to suggest a future project for this website. I know PhuturePhillies is dedicated to following the young players but it would really be good to get to know some of the scouts who find these players, the scouting directors who dictate their growth trajectories and minor league coaches who help mold them into future major leaguers. As you said in the article, the Phillies now have one of the best groups of scouts and player development programs in all of baseball and we are all reaping the benefits of it.

    Thanks again for the great information and website!

  35. James I have read every article on ESPN, CBS Sports, SI, and Fox Sports and that was by far the best! Keep it up Pal!!!

  36. Your take on the Oswalt deal vs the prospects given up is great. Also might be the first write-up of the Lee trade that made it seem remotely rational.

    If I was to add anything, it would be that Roy Oswalt’s value to the Phils, who are viable contenders in a tight division to make the 2010 playoffs is much greater than $5 million per win, only because a win for the Phillies is more valuable than a win for a team like the Yankees (who almost assuredly will make the playoffs) or a win for a team like the Astros (who absolutely will not). Wins are amplified at this point in the season for teams that are part of the playoff hunt, and marginal for teams who are not.

    So while its clear to everyone that the prospects that were given up are worth the return that is Oswalt in 2010-2011, its an even stronger deal than the story you get from WAR and projections for 2011. The value of winning the division for the fourth straight year or simply winning the wild card is that it will provide attendance and a larger fanbase for years to come, bringing even more money to the team. Getting ahead of ourselves, if the Phils make the playoffs then they have an incredibly strong 1-2-3 with a solid 4 that can potentially carry them to a very strong showing. They are in a fantastic position for 2010 and have a much more solid rotation in 2011 thanks to this trade. It was a very smart move.

  37. First – Great analysis as usual James, probably the best i’ve read about the trade.

    Second – I just had a thought and was hoping you or anyone else could answer. I know we already made a killing in this trade, but now i’m thinking it may be even better. Don’t the Phillies receive compensation now if Oswalt retires after next year or he decides to not agree to his option? If we receive a 1st round pick or two in addition to Oswalt + the 11 Mil that makes this trade that much better.

    Happ + Villar + Gose for Oswalt + 11 Mil + 1 or 2 Draft Picks … am i correct?

  38. Awesome, awesome stuff.

    I agree with others above that the last paragrpah should be the first thing you see when you load this site. Get the poison, negative people out. You don’t have to love everything the team does but you do have to recognize a great deal when one happens.

    One of the national writers (forget who) said you never let a guy in A ball hold up a deal for someone like Oswalt.

    I’d also love to see PhormerPhillies – I like to keep up on the guys who got traded. I don’t lose sleep over any of them (well, ok, maybe Lou Marson) but I do like to see how they make out after tracking them for so many years. I look at box scores when I can and follow BP’s prospect coverage hits them sometimes. However, no team that I’ve looked at has anything like this site. This is a model blog that fans of all other teams would be lucky to have.

  39. Extremely impressive analysis, my first time reading you but I plan to bookmark your site.

    I do have a question I was wondering if you migth be able to answer. Singleton is a 1B, has there been any thought to try him in LF, so that he might become a replacement for Ibanez in a couple of years?

  40. How and why did the Asstros owner sign off on this. I quess Ed’s next job is secure in Philly. I don’t think I fully understood the implications yesterday but I worked last night and of course it was all over the radio. Many called it a makeup trade. Whatever lol

  41. I also would say this is a bad omen for Savery because given that he is local to Houston (Rice) and the Astros did not ask for him as a throw in.

    Singleton is a 1B, has there been any thought to try him in LF, so that he might become a replacement for Ibanez in a couple of years?

    Yes on this board for sure, but that doesn’t mean it is being discussed in the “Bank” executive suites.

  42. buster olney was on espn this morning and he said he spoke to several GMs who told him that if they knew that $11 million was in play, they would have surely entered the discussions. kind of amazing that wade didn’t shop the $11 million around to get more bidders. he is truly incompetent. And just like in fantasy sports, when there is an incompetent owner, you keep making trades with him. love it!

  43. Someone mentioned in one of the trade threads that there was discussion on the radio about SS being a position of strength in the Philly organization. That left me and probably a lot of others scratching their heads. So I did a little research. They specifically mentioned GCL, DSL and VSL.

    GCL
    Age Bats Avg G D HR RBI K BB
    Nerio Rios: 18 S .227 20 3 0 7 13 2
    Stephen Malcolm 20 R .265 16 3 0 6 12 2
    Cale Owen 23 S .083 6 0 0 0 4 1

    DSL
    Age Bats Avg G D HR RBI K BB
    Eladio Berroa 19 S .226 29 5 0 11 10 8
    Wilter Jimenez 21 S .256 47 6 0 12 17 2

    VSL
    Age Bats Avg G D HR RBI K BB
    Eduards Tolo 19 R .272 56 6 0 19 12 28
    Al Villalobos 18 R .154 3 1 1 3 3 1

    Pick your future star. The Phils love those switch-hitting SS. Rios is getting a lot of playing time lately. Tolo has been in the VSL for what seems like decades. Like that BB/K ratio.

  44. Phenomenal write-up. Thank you for all of the work you do on this site…and as a lurker there, I also enjoy your input very much at BackSheGoes.com!

  45. Great read. I had finally moved on from the Lee trade, but was puzzled when I heard Oswalts name, as it sounded as though the STros were insisting on not paying any salary. I’ve been critical of some of Amaro’s moves, but this was such an obvious no-brainer, I still can’t believe Houston offered it (and it sounds like some other GM’s are shocked to hear that the Astros ate salary).
    As mentioned in the piece, still the chance now to make a minor move to help the pen or get a second base fill in for August.

  46. one follow up thought. Lets say Amaro didnt cave in and give Moyer a second year on his contract covering 2010. You keep Lee for this year, while acquiring Halladay, and still sign Blanton (i.e, Lee gets Moyers 2010 $). You could still have also done the Oswalt deal, giving you a rotation for the rest of this year of Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels, Blanton…that’s like an all time great rotation. Lee leaves after the year, Kendrick slides into #5 spot for next year and you get two extra draft picks. Just something to dream about.

  47. Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, Hamels, Blanton

    Which one is not like the others? says Captain K.

  48. Actually I had pretty much the same thought. It would of been incredible but the mlb office probably would of stopped it.

  49. re – a 4-headed beast rotation.

    There’s a point of diminishing returns, wouldn’t you think? No team *needs* an elite 4th starter and his marginal value at that point would probably not outpace his contract.

    PP – This is excellent stuff. Keep up the good work. Let’s hope Oswalt holds up.

  50. Bellman –
    I think you nailed it. There is no SS depth. That was an extreme weakness in the minors, prior to this trade. It is basically hoping that Galvis learns to hit, or …. well, pretty much nothing. Nobody else is the system looks at all interesting at this point. Someone could break out next season, but as of now, middle IF and 3B remain extreme weaknesses in the minors. It’s Galvis and Garcia and not much else.

  51. Bottom line on this, Oswalt is not much of an upgrade over Happ, if at all, on top of the fact that we gave up 2 really good prospects, are paying more, and have no room to make any moves for bullpen or bench, for this year or next. Other than that, great trade. Where’s Cliff lee when you need him.

  52. Oswalt isnt a upgrade over Happ???? wow. shortstop can be address in the next draft we have rollins, for at least three seasons, enough time to develop someone.

  53. Oswalt is a huge upgrade over the oft-injured Happ. Happ has been injured and ineffective all season. Oswalt is one of the better pitchers in the league and has been a rock for his career.

    This was a slamdunk trade for the Phillies.

  54. ****Where’s Cliff lee when you need him.****

    Bottom line: Lee was gone after 2010 regardless. Now we have Oswalt through 2011 at a below-market cost (we’ll be paying him about the same as we’re giving Blanton).

  55. Slice how you like . On day 1 Happ was better. The baseball gods are happy. They have confused us again.
    I see Oswalt as a better postseason pitcher but a healthy Happ almost always gives you a quality start.

    Very very interesting!

  56. I said it in the other thread that this move is going to be like the Andy Ashby move in the late 90′s/early 00′s. You heard it here first.

  57. Andy Ashby compares to Roy Oswalt? When was Ashby ever considered a top 5 (or even top 20) pitcher in the National League? Ridiculous.

  58. I understand when the organization makes a questionable transaction (such as trading Lee) that there would be complaints. But how can any rational adult complain about this deal? Even if Roy Oswalt stinks it up every start until the end of 2011, it was the correct move to make. Complaints are justified when the move makes no sense. This move makes sense, so even if it doesn’t work out, there shouldn’t be a complaint.
    Anybody that can find fault with a championship contender trading a #4 pitcher and 2 A ball players, for a #1 pitcher and 11 million dollars, is sick in the head.

  59. Oswalt is a square peg in a round hole in Philly. I know it doesn’t always make sense, but I smell a Randy Johnson/Carl Pavano in NY type situation here.

    I still understand why the Phillies made the deal, they had to. I’m just saying I’m on the record as saying I have a gut feeling Oswalt isn’t going to be what everyone thinks he’s going to be. And before everyone over-reacts, I said this before last nights showing as well.

  60. MikeMike77 –

    If Happ has a lower ERA over the next year and a half than Oswalt, it’s a bad deal. Even with the cash kick-in, we’re still paying more for Oswalt than Happ.

    Happ isn’t a #4 pitcher. He got a crap deal from the Phillies ever since he’s been here. I think he’s a weak #2, above average #3. All he’s ever done in the big leagues is be successful. I’m tired of him getting a crap wrap on here just because he doesn’t throw 96.

    Mark it down, JA Happ will be better than Oswalt over the next year and a half. It’s a guarantee.

  61. If Happ maintains his current career ERA, or even close to it, over the next year and a half, he will be a unique pitcher in modern league history. No pitcher – none – in modern baseball history (aside perhaps for some knuckleball pitchers) has been able to maintain even close to his ERA with his peripherals.

    Now, who knows, anything is possible. But not likely. It would be equivalent to Rizzotti maintaining his current roughly .400 BABIP. And yes, I know, some people also think he can do that. Probably the same people who think Happ is really a sub 3.00 ERA starting pitcher over the long haul. Sigh.

  62. Matt , your talking about a pitcher who better be elite to win in houston, remember that team stinks, oswalt if healthy is a top of the rotation guy,plus he is playing on a good team, you really dont have a clue sorry but its true

  63. Great analysis, and not just because I agree with you about the Oswalt trade being a major win for the Phils. You put forth a convincing argument in support of the Phils approach and results, which is rarely acknowledged. Well done.

  64. James,

    Your analysis is good but it failed to take into consideration J.A. Happ’s performance. You state that he has performed as a # 4 or # 5 starter. In fact J.A. Happ has performed as a # 1 or # 2 over his major league starts in each of the last three years. Even though this is a small sample, in 4 starts in 2008 he put up an average starting pitcher game score of 57.8 which is equal to a #1 starter or Ace, in 2009 he put up a score of 55.6 which is equal to a # 2+ starter, so far in 4 starts in 2010 J.A. Happ put a score of 57.0 which is equal to Ace starter.

    J. A. Happ’s scores:
    Happ – 10 — Majors — 57.0 — 1
    Happ – 09 — Majors — 55.6 — 2+
    Happ – 08 — Majors — 57.8 — 1
    Happ – 08 — Minors — 56.6 — 1-
    Happ – 07 — Minors — 46.9 — 4
    Happ – 06 — Minors — 59.3 — 1+
    Happ – 05 — Minors — 60.6 — 1++
    Happ – 04 — Minors — 54.5 — 2

    You will note that in 2007 J.A. Happ pitched almost the entire season with an undiagnosed elbow strain that was found at the end of the season.

    Roy Oswald’s scores:
    Oswald Roy – 10 — — — 56.9 — 1-
    Oswald Roy – 09 — — — 52.6 — 2-
    Oswald Roy – 08 — — — 55.2 — 2+
    Oswald Roy – 07 — — — 54.2 — 2
    Oswald Roy – 06 — — — 56.5 — 1-
    Oswald Roy – 05 — — — 56.9 — 1-
    Oswald Roy – 04 — — — 55.3 — 2+
    Oswald Roy – 03 — — — 56.8 — 1-
    Oswald Roy – 02 — — — 57.9 — 1

    Average starting pitcher game score is very effect in measuring how good a starting pitcher is doing over an entire season. The stat is the yearly average starting pitcher game score. It can tell you if a pitcher is pitching as an Ace (# 1), # 2, # 3, # 4 or a # 5 in that particular year. It also shows how well a prospect is doing. It is a very accurate stat since run, earned runs, innings pitched, hits, walks and strikeouts are all used in determining the starting pitcher game score.

    A pitcher who puts up an annual score of between:

    56 to 59.9 # 1 Starters or Aces
    52 to 55.9 # 2 Starters
    48 to 51.9 # 3 Starters
    44 to 47.9 # 4 Starters
    40 to 43.9# 5 Starters

    To be more precise:
    Rotation Position Average Score Status
    1++++ — 70 to 74.9
    1+++ — 65 to 69.9
    1++ — 60 to 64.9 Super Elite — # 1 Starter
    1+ — 59 to 59.9 Top 1/3 — # 1 Starters
    1 — 57 to 58.9 Middle 1/3 — #1 Starters
    1- — 56 to 56.9 Bottom 1/3 — # 1 Starters
    2+ — 55 to 55.9 Top 1/3 — # 2 Starters
    2 — 53 to 54.9 Middle 1/3 — # 2 Starters
    2- — 52 to 52.9 Bottom 1/3 — # 2 Starters
    3+ — 51 to 51.9 Top 1/3 — # 3 Starters
    3 — 49 to 50.9 Middle 1/3 — #3 Starters
    3- — 48 to 48.9 Bottom 1/3 — # 3 Starters
    4+ — 47 to 47.9 Top 1/3 — # 4 Starters
    4 — 45 to 46.9 Middle 1/3 — #4 Starters
    4- — 44 to 44.9 Bottom 1/3 — # 4 Starters
    5+ — 43 to 43.9 Top 1/3 — # 5 Starters
    5 — 41 to 42.9 Middle 1/3 — #5 Starters
    5- — 40 to 40.9 Bottom 1/3 — # 5 Starters

    The scores for the top 25 major league pitcher in 2009 are;

    Greinke Zack – 09 — 63.4
    Hernendez Felix – 09 — 60.4
    Roy Halladay – 09 — 60.4
    Lincecum Tim – 09 — 64.5
    Carpenter Cris – 09 — 62.1
    Wainwright Adam – 09 — 59.4
    Cain Matt – 09 — 58.3
    Verlander Justin – 09 — 58.6
    Jurrjeins Jair – 09 — 57.1
    Haren Dan – 09 — 60.8
    Vazquez Javier – 09 — 61.6
    Lester Jon – 09 — 57.2
    Sebathia CC – 09 — 57.2
    Johnson Josh – 09 — 57.1
    Jimenez Ubaldo – 09 — 56.9
    Jackson Edwin – 09 — 54.1
    Weaver Jared – 09 — 54.4
    Kershaw Clayton – 09 — 58.0
    Wolf Randy – 09 — 56.8
    Rodriguez Wandy – 09 — 56.6
    Cliff Lee – 09 — 56.3
    JA Happ – 09 — 55.6
    Buehrle Mark – 09 — 51.1
    Washburn Jarrod – 09 — 53.1
    Danks John – 09 — 53.2

    The average score of these 25 for 2009 is 57.8.

    Some other top pitchers in 2010 scores:
    Johan Santana 2010 55.8 2+
    C.C. Sabathia 2010 56.7 1-
    Andy Pettitte 2010 57.2 1
    Jon Lester 2010 61.4 1++
    Tim Lincecum 2010 57.8 1
    Matt Cain 2010 57.9 1

    The scores of recent Philly Major League Pitchers:

    Starting pitcher Games — — Score — Position

    Halladay – 10 22 — — 64.4 — 1++
    Hamels – 10 20 — — 55.9 — 2+
    Moyer – 10 19 — — 50.4 — 3
    Kendrick – 1020 — — 48.3 — 3-
    Blanton – 10 16 — — 43.3 — 5
    Happ – 10 4 — — 57.0 — 1

    Lee – 09 Phillies 12 last 1/2 — 56.4 — 1-
    Happ – 09 23 — — 55.6 — 2+
    Blanton – 09 31 — — 52.5 — 2-
    Hamels – 09 32 — — 51.5 — 3+
    Moyer – 09 25 — — 47.1 — 4+
    Myers – 09 10 1st 1/2 — 49.7 — 3
    Martinez – 09 9 last 1/2 — 52.1 — 2-
    Park – 09 7 1st 1/2 — 40.0 — 5-
    Bastardo – 09 5 middle — 43.8 — 5+
    Lopez – 09 5 last 1/2 — 41.7 — 5
    Kendrick – 09 2 — 50.0 — 3

    Lee – 09 Playoffs 5 — — 70.0 — 1++++
    Martinez – 09 Playoffs 3 — — 57.7 — 1
    Blanton – 09 Playoffs 2 — — 48.5 — 3-
    Hamels – 09 Playoffs 4 — — 39.5 — 5–

    Hamels – 08 33 — — 58.8 — 1
    Moyer – 08 33 — — 51.2 — 3+
    Kendrick – 08 30 — — 42.6 — 5
    Myers – 08 Overall 30 — — 50.5 — 3
    Myers – 08 1st ½ season 17 1st 1/2 — 45.0 — 4
    Myers – 08 Minors 4 — — 58.0 — 1
    Myers – 08 2nd ½ season 13 last 1/2 — 58.3 — 1
    Blanton – 08 Phillies 13 last 1/2 — 50.0 — 3
    Eaton – 08 19 1st 1/2 — 42.9 — 5
    Happ – 08 4 — 57.8 — 1

    Hamels – 08 Playoffs 5 — — 66.4 — 1+++
    Blanton – 08 Playoffs 3 — — 55.7 — 2+
    Myers – 08 Playoffs 3 — — 50.3 — 3
    Moyer – 08 Playoffs 3 — — 40.3 — 5-

    Hamels – 07 28 — — 57.7 — 1
    Kendrick – 07 20 last 1/2 — 49.9 — 3
    Moyer – 07 33 — — 46.6 — 4
    Eaton – 07 30 — — 41.6 — 5
    Lieber – 07 12 1st 1/2 — 47.8 — 4
    Garcia – 07 11 1st 1/2 — 43.6 — 5+
    Lohse – 07 Phillies 11 last 1/2 — 48.2 — 3
    Durbin J D – 07 10 — 42.6 — 5
    Myers – 07 3 1st 1/2 — 39.3 — 5–

    Myers – 06 31 — — 53.9 — 2
    Hamels – 06 23 last 1/2 — 53.9 — 2
    Lieber – 06 27 — — 46.6 — 4
    Liddle – 06 Phillies 21 1st 1/2 — 48.7 — 3-
    Madson – 06 17 1st 1/2 — 40.1 — 5-
    Wolf – 06 12 last 1/2 — 44.4 — 4-
    Floyd – 06 11 1st 1/2 — 37.5 — 5–
    Mathieson – 06 9 middle — 38.3 — 5–
    Moyer – 06 Phillies 8 last 1/2 — 52.1 — 2-
    Brito – 06 2 — — 27.5 — 5—–

    Myers – 05 34 — — 53.9 — 2
    Lieber – 05 35 — — 52.0 — 2-
    Lidle – 05 31 — — 47.8 — 4+
    Padilla – 05 27 — — 48.0 — 3-
    Wolf – 05 13 1st 1/2 — 49.8 — 3
    Tejeda – 05 13 last 1/2 — 55.0 — 2+
    Brito – 05 5 — — 49.8 — 3
    Floyd – 05 4 — — 45.0 — 4

    Hamels – 10 — — — 55.9 — 2+
    Hamels – 09 — — — 51.5 — 3+
    Hamels – 08 — — — 58.8 — 1
    Hamels – 07 — — — 57.7 — 1
    Hamels – 06 — — — 53.9 — 2

    Halladay – 10 — — — 64.4 — 1++
    Halladay – 09 — — — 60.4 — 1++
    Halladay – 08 — — — 60.4 — 1++
    Halladay – 07 — — — 53.6 — 2
    Halladay – 06 — — — 56.4 — 1-
    Halladay – 05 — — — 63.5 — 1++
    Halladay – 04 — — — 50.6 — 3
    Halladay – 03 — — — 58.0 — 1
    Halladay – 02 — — — 56.9 — 1-

    Lee – 10 — — — 59.2 — 1+
    Lee – 09 — — — 55.7 — 2+
    Lee – 08 — — — 58.9 — 1
    Lee – 07 — — — 39.3 — 5–
    Lee – 06 — — — 47.8 — 4+
    Lee – 05 — — — 53.0 — 2
    Lee – 04 — — — 46.9 — 4
    Lee – 03 — — — 54.1 — 2
    Lee – 02 — — — 56.5 — 1

    Moyer – 10 — — — 50.4 — 3
    Moyer – 09 — — — 47.1 — 4+
    Moyer – 08 — — — 51.2 — 3+
    Moyer – 07 — — — 46.6 — 4
    Moyer – 06 — — — 48.9 — 3-
    Moyer – 05 — — — 48.5 — 3-
    Moyer – 04 — — — 46.8 — 4
    Moyer – 03 — — — 54.4 — 2
    Moyer – 02 — — — 56.4 — 1-

    Myers – 10 — — — 55.1 — 2+
    Myers – 09 — — — 49.7 — 3
    Myers – 08 — — — 50.5 — 3
    Myers – 07 — — — 39.3 — 5–
    Myers – 06 — — — 53.9 — 2
    Myers – 05 — — — 55.5 — 2+
    Myers – 04 — — — 45.6 — 4
    Myers – 03 — — — 49.0 — 3
    Myers – 02 — — — 48.3 — 3-

    Blanton – 10 — — — 43.3 — 5
    Blanton – 09 — — — 52.5 — 2-
    Blanton – 08 — — — 47.5 — 4+
    Blanton – 07 — — — 52.2 — 2-
    Blanton – 06 — — — 45.2 — 4
    Blanton – 05 — — — 53.2 — 2

    Kendrick – 10 — Majors — 48.3 — 3-
    Kendrick – 09 — Majors — 50.0 — 3
    Kendrick – 09 — Minors — 55.1 — 2+
    Kendrick – 08 — Majors — 42.6 — 5
    Kendrick – 07 — Majors — 49.9 — 3
    Kendrick – 07 — Minors — 53.4 — 2
    Kendrick – 06 — Minors — 55.7 — 2+

    Happ – 10 — Majors — 57.0 — 1
    Happ – 09 — Majors — 55.6 — 2+
    Happ – 08 — Majors — 57.8 — 1
    Happ – 08 — Minors — 56.6 — 1-
    Happ – 07 — Minors — 46.9 — 4
    Happ – 06 — Minors — 59.3 — 1+
    Happ – 05 — Minors — 60.6 — 1++
    Happ – 04 — Minors — 54.5 — 2

    Lee – Playoffs – 09 — — — 70.0 — 1++++
    Hamels – Playoffs – 08 — — — 66.4 — 1+++

    Oswald Roy – 10 — — — 56.9 — 1-
    Oswald Roy – 09 — — — 52.6 — 2-
    Oswald Roy – 08 — — — 55.2 — 2+
    Oswald Roy – 07 — — — 54.2 — 2
    Oswald Roy – 06 — — — 56.5 — 1-
    Oswald Roy – 05 — — — 56.9 — 1-
    Oswald Roy – 04 — — — 55.3 — 2+
    Oswald Roy – 03 — — — 56.8 — 1-
    Oswald Roy – 02 — — — 57.9 — 1

  65. The interesting thing about defense indepenant pitching stats is that it is one area where sabremetrics to some extent reinforced the conventional baseball wisdom. Baseball people have always been more than a little skeptical of guys like Happ who have mediocre K, BB, and HR numbers, but somehow despite that manage a fantastic ERA in a relatively short period of time. And rightfully so. As some people on this board don’t seem to understand.

    Shame, though, that at least one person seems to have spent a whole lot of time assembing a number of statistics which don’t really mean a much. yes, if Happ somehow keeps pitching to a 3.30 era, he will be one heck of a pitcher. And if Rizzotti manages to be a career .350 hitter in the major leagues, he will be a superstar. The former is a LITTLE more likely than the latter, but not much.

  66. 3.03, that is, his currentlifetime ERA. In only 223 IP. I might add that, in the unlikely event that he manages to keep his ERA under 4, it will almost certainly be because he improves his K, BB and HR numbers. Which he could – though given his age, Major league performance to date, stuff, and minor league performance, that would seem to be unlikely.

  67. Happ’s walk rate this year strikes me as a red flag. Combine that with the Phillies’ reluctance to bring him back from AAA and it makes me wonder if there is something more going on.

  68. Very well said young James. You made me want to stand up and cheer!

    As one of the oldest Phillies phans around, 62 years and counting since my first game, I take extreme pleasure in this the greatest era in their history. I grew up with the Wiz Kids and may now be a Waz Kid myself, but I am a very happy one. Couldn’t agree more with your comments! Thanks!

  69. I think it is premature to call the Phillies a model organization at this time. Three years in the post season and a WS is great, but an organization cannot be judged until it has shown high success over a longer period of time.

    Contrary to your rosy, everything is great article, I am reluctant to bestow such lavish praise on them for many reasons that are quite obvious, but have been ignored in your article.

    The first reason is that they continually tie up their finances for long periods of time on “non elite” veteran players. An obvious example of that is the fact that we have 3 very mediocre, at best, pitchers making over $22 million for the next 2 years in Lidge, Blanton and Baez. The Phillies financial strategy really makes little sense at all. They seem to be penny wise and dollar foolish. They lavish so much on huge contracts which seem way too long. The Ibanez contract was a real head scratcher as was the length and timing of the Howard contract, as was the Moyer and Blanton contracts. Look around the league, and you will see very few teams paying their back end starters a total o16 million/year. Obviously, they have not learned from their mistakes in the past.

    While it’s great to be able to fill your needs by trading prospects, this becomes very expensive over time. With a rookie you get several years dirt cheap which allows for spending big time $$ on the blue chips. A model organization should also be able to plan for the inclusion of rookies every year on the major league level which the Phillies have not done this as there are virtually no players in their system that are ready to contribute in the majors for the next year or maybe three.

    There’s also a dangerous stubborness within the organization (ie refusing to sign a SP for more than 3 yrs) , releasing a decent innings eater in Figueroa and keeping a guy because he’s making 2.5 but hurts the team almost all of the time he gets on the mound.

    No organization is perfect, but this organization will get its real test in the next few yrs when the core of the team begins to go into a noticeable decline, and the farm system they’ve ignored for a few yrs can’t pick up the slack.

  70. ” there are virtually no players in their system that are ready to contribute in the majors for the next year or maybe three. ”

    Apparently you’ve never heard of Domonic Brown.

  71. Dino,

    I do think that you’ve hit upon the one area of legitimate concern regarding current management, and PP probably does paint a slightly overly bright picture. But overall he is closer to the truth than you are; as is often the case by certain readers of this blog, you exagerate some of the negative and ignore a lot of the positive. And you cap it off with perhaps the most absurd sentence I’ve ever seen on this site (and that’s saying a lot).

    “An obvious example of that is the fact that we have 3 very mediocre, at best, pitchers making over $22 million for the next 2 years in Lidge, Blanton and Baez.”

    Well Lidge and Baez are signed through 2011 only. Aside from that:
    The Baez contract was pretty clearly a mistake, but 2.5 a year is peanuts with a payroll of around 150 million. The Lidge deal was a mistake at the time, but really has worked out a LOT worse in retrospect than anyone could have reasaonably expected. He was coming off in incredible year, and while he had been up and down before that, no one could have predicted the extent of his troubles since. And I’ll absolutely defend the Blanton contract; it was a market deal for a mid rotation innings eater. Mangement can’t be blamed for not forseeing his injury this year.

    “The Ibanez contract was a real head scratcher as was the length and timing of the Howard contract, as was the Moyer and Blanton contracts.”

    The Ibanez contract really isn’t defensible. The Howard contract … Look, I wouldn’t have done it, and it COULD end up being worse than all the rest combined, but I think it’s more defensible than a lot of people think. And certainly it isn’t an example of “tie[ing] up their finances for long periods of time on ‘non elite’ veteran players.” I discussed the Blanton contract above. The Moyer contract was a mistake, but at a lower level, and given the market for starting pitchers, at least understandable.

    ” Look around the league, and you will see very few teams paying their back end starters a total o16 million/year.”

    Well … nor do the Phillies. Blanton is not a back of the rotation starter. And I think you would be surprised at what some other teams pay for lousy starters. Some examples: Randy Wolf, Carlos Zambrano and Kevin Millwood, just to name 3. I could name 20 more, at least (yes, like Blanton some of these guys were viewed as middle of the rotation starters when signed – but honestly I’d take Blanton over any of them at this stage of their careers). Oh, and I’m not sure how you get to 16 million, even including Blanton.

    “While it’s great to be able to fill your needs by trading prospects, this becomes very expensive over time. With a rookie you get several years dirt cheap which allows for spending big time $$ on the blue chips.”

    True in the abstract. But in THIS case, the specific moves made have gotten the Phillies a WS championship and a second WS appearance – and trades for prospects have played a HUGE role in those successes. The costs, so far at least, have been low. Even with all of this year’s injuries, I have my doubts that ANY of the recently traded players would have played a significant role at the Major League level this year, and probably not next year. Maybe Drabek is the exception going forward. And sorry, I’d rather have Halladay with his below market contract.

    “A model organization should also be able to plan for the inclusion of rookies every year on the major league level which the Phillies have not done this”

    Well, no. Two points: even the best organizations can’t always insert rookies “every year;” there is just too much uncontrollable randomness in even the best minor league systems. And this is ESPECIALLY true when you’e talking about a contender; most rookies really do stuggle at first. While the Phillies may indeed go oveboard in this respect, there IS a logic to relying mostly on established players when you are a contender.

    “There’s also a dangerous stubborness within the organization (ie refusing to sign a SP for more than 3 yrs) , releasing a decent innings eater in Figueroa and keeping a guy because he’s making 2.5 but hurts the team almost all of the time he gets on the mound.”

    The first is absolutely a good policy and frankly one of the reasons why I respect the organization. I would estimate that well over 50% – probably over 75% – of 4+ year SP contracts end up badly, often VERY badly. The second point I agree with you, but honestly these kind of back of the pen decisions don’t ussually make a huge difference – and it’s not like it was an OBVIOUS mistake (i.e., Fig isn’t exactly highly regarded around the league, fairly or not).

    “No organization is perfect, but this organization will get its real test in the next few yrs when the core of the team begins to go into a noticeable decline, and the No organization is perfect, but this organization will get its real test in the next few yrs when the core of the team begins to go into a noticeable decline, and the farm system they’ve ignored for a few yrs can’t pick up the slack.they’ve ignored for a few yrs can’t pick up the slack.”

    Every organization, even the best, have down years, and if the Phillies do have a down period it won’t necessarily be an indictment of the organization. But “farm system they’ve ignored for a few yrs” is so laughably, provably, absurdly wrong that you’ve squandered whatever credibility you built up with some of your somewhat reasonable criticism. That farm system has produced prospects that have allowed the Phillies to trade for 3 front of the rotation pitchers in just over a year; going back further, there’s also Blanton and, yes, Lidge, without whom the WS championship most likely wouldn’t have happened. And even after trading all those prospects, the Phillies have probably one of the top 5 farm systems.

  72. One other point which I think is often overlooked: “mediocre” players HAVE REAL VALUE. You can’t just pick up “mediocre” players for free. You can almost by definition pick up replacement level players up for free (or virtually free) , but the difference in value between a replacement level player and an average player is often as great or greater than the difference in value between an average player and a minor star.

    For example – Fangraphs has a feature where they place dollar values on player performance. It has its limits and flaws, but it gives IMO a good ball park estimate. In his 3 years prior to this one, Blanton is valued at $43 million dollars Even just looking at 2008-2009, his value was estimated at almost 20 million. If that represents his true value, then his contract was just about right. And given the overpriced market for starting pitchers – I think a study using real salaries & Fangraphs value estimates would show that on average starting pitchers are overpaid – a starting pitcher at a “fair” price is (in terms of the market) actually a baragin.

    I have some sympathy for the point of view that teams tend to overpay mediocre players (though this is CERTAINLY not limited to the Phillies), but the notion that you can spend most of your payroll on big contracts to your stars and fill in the rest of the roster with dirt cheap players is quite mistaken.

  73. Tying up players to “long term deals”. They signed Lidge for 3 yrs right during his streak…maybe two yrs would be better. Blanton is actually a below market deal for a guy who can get you 200 IP. Baez 2yr/5m…Phils might look at that in the off season and eat it if Mathieson is ready. Ibanez deal was where the market was at that time as well. Once again maybe two yrs w/an option on 3 would be better. I like Howard deal as with Pujols, Fielder, and Gonzo hitting the market next yr you would have to pay more. Minor leaguers are there to help build the major league roster. That is including trades. Do you want to be the Astros or Pirates and have 4 or 5 rookies getting significant playing time. Teams like the Phillies and Yanks use trades to improve themselves. I think you might see some help from the minors in the bp next yr and from the starters in 3 yrs. Nelson Figueroa…stop..I don’t see a decline coming..Utley, Howard, Rollins, Brown, and Victorino will be in the line-up past 2012. Polly has two more yrs on his deal..as does Halladay..Hamels is still young..Oswalt maybe through 2012…relax…..then all the kids like Cosart, Colvin, May, Singelton, Valle, Biddle, Santana, etc can contribute

  74. Someone – I don’t think it was Dino, but he seems to be implicitly making the same argument – said recently that the long term contracts to the true aces seem to work out better than long term contracts to “mediocre” pitchers. Now, of course if you look at performance retrospectively, that is almost by definition true, but is circular and kind of irrelevant (i.e., pitchers who pitch well enough to justify their contracts … justify their contracts).

    But looking at how starting pitchers were valued AT THE TIME THEY SIGNED, the story is different. Looking at the top 10 contracts for SP by average annual salary, you have no true bargains (both Verlander and Halladay are minor bargains THIS year, but aren’t exactly cheap & have years to go on their contracts), a couple of pitchers worth about what they are being paid (Sabathia), a few pitchers who are not justifying their contracts, but aren’t total busts (Burnett, Peavey, Santana, Lackey) and three out and out disastrous busts (Zito (not so much this year but over the course of his contract), Zambrano (!) and Jason Schmidt (!!)). Not a great batting average.

  75. I think the key is avoiding huge annual salaries. Paying $25M for Howard instead of $18M is worth a solid solid starting pitcher. Salaries under $10M are generally tradeable or at least tolerable. If Polanco becomes a platoon player or Blanton a 180-inning 5th starter, at least those contracts are not killers like Ibanez or Lidge at $12M for both this and next year.

    However, elite players players like Howard, Halladay, Oswalt, Utley, Werth and Lidge make it possible to win in the playoffs. A group of market value $10M players might win a wildcard slot ever once in awhile. They key is getting some of those elite players on the cheap through the farm system, which is difficult to do.

    I agree there is risk the current majors players (all about 31 years old) may fall apart at the same time and I do not see an obvious succession plan in place for the near future. However, the minors do have 4 elite level prospects (excluding Brown) but they are all far away. Riding the truly magnificent team as long as possible seems to make sense. Trying to accumulate young drafted talent to either develop or trade to extend the window seems like a good strategy. (And picking some more Werths off the trash heap would be awesome!)

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