The Phillies acquire Hunter Pence

Well, it appears that it has finally happened. The Phillies have been linked to Hunter Pence for the better part of the last 2 months, with Charlie Manuel openly campaigning for a righthanded batter. In the last few days, talks intensified, rumors began to fly wildly, and the deal has finally concluded. According to reports, the Phillies are parting ways with 1B prospect Jon Singleton, RHP Jarred Cosart, and 2 PTBNL, neither thought to be major prospects. As I start writing this, hopefully we get names and I can update it. I’m going to try and tackle this trade from both sides, just as I did the Roy Oswalt and Cliff Lee deals the last two years. There are 2 sides to every trade, and its normally never as simple as “Team A won and Team B lost”. There are tons of variables here, so lets address them one by one. If you want to simply react and say “this sucks” or “this is great”, feel free to use the instant reaction post here. I’d hope that if you come here, you’re interested in what I have to say, so I’ll give it a go.

First off, Astros fans who find my site, welcome. You were here last year after the Oswalt trade, I’ll provide you with plenty of information on the guys you just got.

We’ve created profile pages for the guys:

Jon Singleton Profile
Jarred Cosart Profile
Josh Zeid Profile

If you want to see what we’ve written specifically about Cosart and Singleton, check out these links:


That should give you a start.

Before I discuss the players dealt, I wanted to take this space to make a few quick comments that I hope people take a moment to read. Baseball is a strange game. With over 100+ years of data available, the way we look at the game, especially over the last 10 years, has changed. We can now figure out how much actual value there is in drawing a walk, how valuable a home run is, how valuable a starting pitcher is relative to a reliever. We can figure out lots of things. The one thing that we still can’t figure out is how MLB players will develop. Scouts get paid a lot of money to be right, to know what an 18 year old kid will become, and even they miss more than they hit. Every year we fall in love with a new crop of prospects, hoping to see them turn in to superstars, and the reality of the game of baseball is, most of those guys never make it, let alone become stars. I started this site back in 2006, and at the time, I thought I had a pretty good idea about prospects. Since then, a lot of my theories on prospects have evolved, and more importantly, I realized that no matter how much research I do, no matter how good I think I get at studying prospects, I’m going to miss on a ton of guys. The pros, the guys at Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, ESPN, Perfect Game, they have even more resources than me, and they miss all the time too. Its the nature of the game. Figuring out how a player with little or no big league experience is going to develop is really really difficult.

Going along with that train of thought, its easy here to get attached to prospects. Hell, I run a website devoted to Phillies prospects. We start talking about these guys before they are even signed, then we follow them and hope for the best. Over the last 3+ seasons, many of the Phillies prospects we’ve fawned over have been traded: Carlos Carrasco, Adrian Cardenas, Jason Donald, Lou Marson, Kyle Drabek, Anthony Gose, Jonathan Villar, and now apparently Jon Singleton and Jarred Cosart. You never want to see these guys go. I, along with Gregg, Dave and others here, have spent a lot of time writing about these guys and thinking about these guys. But its part of the game, and when you have a very aggressive major league team, with a very aggressive general manager, this is going to happen. I recommend everyone take a huge deep breath and then soak everything in before reacting strongly one way or the other.

What the Phillies Got

Hunter Pence, RF (Age 28)

(courtesy of

For as much gnashing of the teeth as I’ve done in recent days on twitter about Pence, he’s a good baseball player. From 2008-2010, he showed consistent power. For his career, he sports a 6.7% BB rate (walks as a percentage of plate appearances) and an 18.1% K rate (strikeouts as a percentage of plate appearances), while posting an ISO of .190, a respectable number for sure. He stole 18 bags in 2010, and figures to steal around 10-12 this year. This season, his home run rate is down but he’s on pace for 30+ doubles. Defensively, he looks goofy in rightfield, especially when he runs, but advanced metrics (the Fielding Bible) rate his defense as above average, and he has a strong accurate arm. He turns 29 in April, so he’s still in the middle of his peak, and he is athletic, even if it looks weird, so I’m not worried about him falling off a cliff. His BABIP is high this year, .370, but he sports an above average .326 BABIP for his career, and one year variances like that are not uncommon. He’s been very consistent, very durable, and should provide a solid contribution across the board. He’s not a superstar, everyone knows that, but if he maintains his level of production from 2008-2011 for the next few seasons, that’s all that will be asked of him. The one negative, outside of the fact that he doesn’t have one blow you away tool, is he is going to get really expensive. He qualified as a Super Two, and beat the Astros in arbitration this past winter, winning a $6.9M salary. If he goes to arbitration this winter, he will surely get more than $10M, and he would then have one more year of arbitration remaining. I think its reasonable to assume the Phillies will try and lock him up to a 4-5 year deal with backloaded money to help the Phillies add more pieces this winter. Welcome to Philadelphia, Hunter.

What the Phillies Gave Up

Jon Singleton, 1B – Singleton has become something of a lightning rod this season. After his blazing hot start last year, he “slumped” in the second half of the season yet still finished near the top of all Phillies prospect lists. I ranked him 3rd in the Phillies system heading in to this season, and if you clicked the links above, you can see everything I’ve written about him. After getting off to a slow start, he also dealt with an ankle injury, which led the Phillies to move him back to first base. Some were quick to say this meant the experiment “failed”, but I think his outfield experiment ended because the team didn’t want to put any more stress on his ankle. After a rough May, Singleton rebounded and hit .322/.464/.494 in June, and he’s hit .303/.410/.545 in his last 10 games in July. What people seem to miss with Singleton is that he is the youngest player in the Florida State League, yet he’s not only held his own, his numbers are all above average. The average batting line for all players in the Florida State League this year is .262/.332/.385, and that includes guys who are 23, 24, 25 and older. For the season, Singleton is at .282/.386/.411. Yes, I’d say he’s more than holding his own. He turns 20 in September, and he was the Phillies best position player prospect by a wide margin now that Dominic Brown had graduated. He could still stick in LF if given the chance, especially if he remains in Houston, whose home park features a very shallow left field that was manned for many years by road cone Carlos Lee. People were quick to downgrade Singleton, but he’d be age appropriate in the New York Penn League, 2 levels below where he is now, and he’d probably be putting up video game numbers. Context is everything, and I am legitimately sad to see him go. Best of luck, Jon.

Jarred Cosart, RHP – Just like Singleton, Cosart has generated plenty of divergent opinions this year. I ranked Cosart the #4 prospect in the system heading into this season, one spot behind Singleton. You all know the story, but for Astros fans who don’t, the Phillies took Cosart in the 38th round of the 2008 draft from your home state and signed him for $550,000 on deadline day, buying him out of his college commitment. When he’s been healthy since signing, he’s shown ridiculous raw stuff, consistently sitting in the 94-97 range, holding his velocity deep into games, and he commands the pitch well. He compliments his fastball with a sharp curveball that is a swing and miss pitch, and a developing changeup. Cosart’s number 1 issue heading in to this season was his durability, as he missed a big chunk of time in 2009 and then half the season in 2010. This season he has not had injury worries, and he’s thrown 108 innings in 2011 after throwing just 95.2 innings in 2009 and 2010 combined. But with the excellent raw stuff, the results have not matched this season. Cosart has struck out just 79 in 108 innings (6.58 per 9) while walking 43 (3.58 per 9). Both of those numbers have gone in the opposite direction, as he walked just 2.02 per 9 last year while striking out 9.75 per 9. The biggest question scouts have concerns his delivery, which features a lot of effort and moving parts. If he can simplify his mechanics and remain healthy, he has legit #1 starter potential. Best of luck, Jarred.

Josh Zeid, RHP – A tenth round senior sign in 2009 for $10,000, the Phillies got their money’s worth, as Zeid posted solid numbers in both 2009 and 2010 before earning a promotion to Reading to start 2011. The Phillies tried Zeid, a hard throwing righty, as a starter this year, but the results were not promising and he was moved back to the bullpen, where he’s posted a 2.25 ERA in 16 IP with 24 K and just 2 BB. His biggest strength is his fastball, which will sit 93-94 in relief, and he creates good deception with his delivery. His slider is his better secondary offering and he does throw a changeup, but he won’t need it as much as a reliever. At 24, he was fast tracked to Reading, and I assume that Houston will use him in relief, so he should make it to the big leagues in a year or two and could be a fine 6th/7th inning reliever. Best of luck, Josh.

Jayson Stark reports the Astros will take the final PTBNL from a list of players at Low A Lakewood. I can almost guarantee Jesse Biddle will not be one of the names on the list.

My Reaction

Okay, so I am writing this without knowing the last player to be named later. That could change my opinion of the trade. But for now, I neither love nor hate this deal. As I discussed above, prospects are a really tricky proposition. On this site, I expect the “regulars” to be pissed, because we’ve grown attached to both Singleton and Cosart. I expect some people who didn’t know who Singleton and Cosart were 2 weeks ago to be pissed, because that is their nature, even though they don’t know who the players are. Personally, I wish the Phillies could have held on to Singleton. As I outlined above, I think his stock is still very very high. He has excellent plate discipline, he has a pretty good eye, and his power will come. I expect that when he is fully developed as a prospect, he’ll hit 25-30 HR a year with plenty of walks. Any team would want a player like that. He does have red flags. If he is limited to 1B, then the requirement for his bat is obviously sky high. He’s struggled with LHP, but that’s not uncommon for prospects in the minors, and sometimes (Chase Utley comes to mind) it takes a few years in the big leagues before you really get comfortable with lefties. Singleton leaves a very pitcher friendly league in Florida and heads to a launching pad in Lancaster in the Cal League, and I expect him to be fine. Cosart is a really tough call. If you assured me he would remain healthy and he could smooth out his delivery even more, I’d say he should have been untouchable. But he’s had arm issues, and his delivery still has a lot of moving parts/effort. Its a special arm, but its not a risk free arm. In fact, no pitching prospect is risk free, no matter how clean/messed up their mechanics are. He could put everything together and turn into a star. Or he could blow out his arm and never bounce back. Pitching prospects, and pitchers in general, are very risky, and that is something I’ve stressed over and over again. If everything goes right for Singleton and Cosart, the Astros may end up with more value than the Phillies. Zeid could provide the Astros a few years of middle relief, but it won’t provide premium value. Over the next 3-4 years, Pence is going to accumulate somewhere between 11-15 WAR, assuming he doesn’t get hit. That is a ton of big league value. Cosart and Singleton could each provide that to Houston before their free agency years. Or both could flame out and never make it. We know Hunter Pence has made it. We know hes not a star, but we know that he’s going to help the current big league team.

One final thing I want to address, because I know it will be brought up in the comments. This trade does not “shorten the Phillies window” to win. If the Phillies had traded Domonic Brown, it wouldn’t have shortened the window. Yes, the Phillies have an extremely high payroll, and yes, it won’t go up forever. But the Phillies are also printing money as a franchise, and they aren’t dialing back the payroll any time soon. The Phillies system was just recently ranked 5th overall by Keith Law, based on players who had been promoted and are no longer eligible. Losing 2 of our best prospects is going to hurt, and if the PTBNL are painful, it could hurt more. But the Phillies just splashed out $375,000 for 11th round pick Tyler Greene, who was a 2nd round talent in the draft. Every year the Phillies draft well, they sign interesting guys, and a few years later, those guys are coveted all around baseball. Singleton was drafted in the 8th round of the 2009 draft and signed for a modest $200,000. Scouts/evaluators didn’t make much of it at the time, and I was out in front in hyping him up heading in to 2010. Now he is one of the signature pieces of this deal. Cosart, a 38th round pick, was signed for $550,000. The Phillies know how to find talent. They will sign a number of draft picks in the next few weeks and help to replenish what they’ve just lost. Meanwhile, they have improved their big league roster, allowing another legitimate run at the World Series ring. Next year, they will still have Dominic Brown for the minimum. Neither Singleton nor Cosart figured to help the big league club directly until 2013 at the earliest. By that time, a lot could have gone wrong (or right, to be fair) and their value could have been greatly altered.

In the short term, the Phillies win this deal. Pence will have accumulated plenty of value (barring injury) before Singleton and Cosart arrive. Its in the Phillies best interest to try and sign Pence to a nice deal now and avoid his potential arbitration windfall. He fills a need in the big league lineup, which will hopefully come at the expense of Raul Ibanez. Could the Phillies have done better pursuing another option like Carlos Quentin or BJ Upton? Possibly, but there is no way to know what would have been required to get those guys. If we know one thing, its that Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn’t want to be left standing without a chair when the music stops. So he got his guy, the big league team got better, and the farm system took a hit, for now. I have every confidence that the system will be fine though, and I think this trade will work out for the Phillies. If the final PTBNL turns out to be a meaningful guy it could impact my analysis, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Update 11:09PM –> I added an update above, Jayson Stark says the 4th player will be a PTBNL from the Low A roster. As I mentioned above, I can almost guarantee Biddle will not be on the list of players, so don’t panic.

247 thoughts on “The Phillies acquire Hunter Pence

  1. that is a lot of cheese.

    i wish ed could have gotten that type of return when he traded some of his super stars when he was running the phils

  2. great insight there, and bonus points to get it up there so quick..
    i had written off Singleton because it seemed like he can only play first and we’ve got Howard locked in for a number of years, but this reminds us of the talent he had…
    with a number of other arms in the low minors, i cant argue about giving up Cosart…
    they just need to sign Larry Green now…

  3. I like this deal more than when I first found out. If we can lock Pence up, we could move him (or Brown) to left field, effectively replacing Ibanez. An outfield of Pence, Victorino, and Brown looks like it could be solid for a good number of years.

  4. For a guy that devotes so much time to scouting and following the minor league system–you have a great perspective on the trade. You keep the big picture in mind. I was so bummed that we just gave up Singleton and Cosart, but the fact of the matter is that anything can happen in this league. Pence has proven himself, and though on the surface I do not like this trade, anything can happen. World series folks?

  5. First, thank you for this write-up, and for the site. Especially this time of year, it is completely invaluable.

    Something I’ve been thinking a lot about over this deadline is information asymmetry, the idea that the Phillies will always know more about their prospects than any other team (see also: all three packages traded for Cliff Lee over the past two seasons). Take a look at the list of players the team has traded over the past few years, trades some folks here have agonized over . . . see anybody you really miss? Bourne would be nice to have, sure, but where would he play? Ditto Gio Gonzalez. Future all-stars Cardenas, Donald and Taylor? Their performance speaks for itself.

    Cosart and Singleton *could* be future all-stars, or they could be a power reliever and Casey Kotchman, respectively. We don’t know. Ed Wade doesn’t know, and neither does Amaro. But I trust the Phillies front office to have a *better* sense of the value of their prospects than anybody else out there.

    All that said, I wish we were getting back a better play than Pence, but it’s what the market had to offer. Looking forward to him batting fifth in San Francisco next week, for sure.

    1. Speaking personally, it was more about who we were getting in the Blanton trade than who we were trading away for me. I had no problems with the Lee and Halladay trades.

  6. With Josh Zeid becoming one of the PTBNL I’m definitely Alrite with this trade as he wasn’t even on my personal top 30. Still kinda sad over the lost of Singleton, he had become one of my favorite players to follow. Realistically if he would have even been able to make it in LF, we still have a good amount of promising prospects that could be as productive if things break the right way. Prospects like jiwan James, Collier, Santana, and even Tyson gillies (if he ever plays again) have the tools and potential to takeover singletons spot as a top hitting future player.

    With Cosart it kind of reminds me of trading Jason Knapp in the fact that they both have/had injury concerns and were mentioned by many to possibly have to switch to relief which would lower their value somewhat. But unlike with knapp we have a myriad of other highly regarded pitchers, some that were even thought of more highly than cosart, in Trevor May, Colvin, and Biddle amongst others.

    All in all it seems like a reasonable exchange for both sides that won’t weaken the farm too much as long as we sign some of our better draftees like Ryan Garvey which I think is a very real possibility now given the need to replenish to farm with some bats

  7. So this makes Dom Brown a leftfielder now, right? Nice analysis and good to know you don’t hate this deal.

    1. I agree with Brian. I only have two problems with the deal:

      1) The Phils could have upgraded LF more cheaply than by this trade. Any number of players who would not have cost as much as Pence would have been an upgrade. Heck, just platooning Mayberry and Ibanez would have made the Phils better.

      2) Brown is likely going to AAA or at least lose playing time in favor of Ibanez. In such a case, I doubt the Phils are much better for the remainder of the season than they would have been without Pence.

      PP, thanks for the write-up, I totally agree with your thoughts on Singleton and Cosart.

  8. thanks, James. great analysis as always. the only thing that gets me worried is how excited i am that dom wasn’t included in the deal so i’ll take anything else as a win. also, how strange it feels to hate on the gm of a team with the best record in the league. it is much easier to doubt the management of the phillies of my youth (don carmen and rickey jordan). hating is a lot more complicated now. i wish i could do as well as charlie murphy.

  9. very impressive analysis. as a side note, i think analysts should incorporate the net present value concept into WAR as well because one WAR in 2013 is not equivalent to one in 2011. teams draft and develop every year and hot prospects (whose projected WAR should be discounted as well given the risk!) come and go. in that two year window b/f singleton and cosart start contributing WARs to the astros or wherever they may in turn end up, the phillies could very well acquire similar talent to replace these prospects. it would be tough to find a consistent, agreed upon formula to discount projected WAR into present value terms, but at least the idea should be considered.

  10. I just heard the last PTBNL is Roy Halladay. WHOA!!!! Ok, I made that up. My guess is Miguel Alvarez. No reason.

  11. Never been a huge fan of the Phillies getting Pence but overall it’s not a terrible deal in terms of what was given up. I’m not as high on Singleton as PP and a few others here but I do expect he has the best chance to be a solid ML regular.

  12. The goal of every organization is to win the World Series, and the Phils gave themselves a better chance to do so with this trade. I’m okay with it.

  13. No good and needed player is coming to Philly without being paid for. No matter who you name, that’s a fact.

    How much should be paid is relevant, and in this case IMO the Phils have set themselves up in RF with a good righty hitting record guy who is an All-Star through ’13. The Werth loss no longer hurts. And the concerns about replacing Ibanez with who? have been erased.

    There is no weakness that the team must address at the cost of a first round draft choice. Off-season moves might be limited to working at the edges and signing Hamels long term.

    In these ways the Phils have come out ahead in this trade. Significantly whether Houston made out or not.

    We’ll be glad for 2 1/2 years…as the realism of a club fit to win sinks in.

    Good stuff, Reuben!

  14. I totally agree, I don’t love this trade, but it makes sense. It hurts giving up these guys, especially for a non-star player. I view Pence as a very solid starter, a good but not great player. Neither Singleton or Cosart will help the ML team for years. It is a good move for this year, but its also a good move thru 2013. It will be many years before we really know how good or bad of a deal this is, unless we win the World Series this year. Then it was worth it. I feel like this could really be a trade that is good for both teams.

  15. I’m worried about how Brown fits in with the Phils. This offseason with the departure of Werth, there was a lot of talk about how poorly he had done in 2010. I didn’t agree with this because he hardly got to play in 2010. This year I think he did a decent job, but Manuel doesn’t think he fits in with the rest of the team, veterans hellbent on winning a championship. Once again he took tremendous heat from the fans for his defense and hitting. I think that players are aware of this talk. He is clearly a guy that is going to take some time to grow into high levels of production. Let’s say next year, Vic and Pence are in the outfield and Brown is called upon to step in for Ibanez. Are the Phillies going to be patient as he adjusts to major league pitching? Are the fans going to get on him again? Will there be trade talk again as people press for an established player over the untapped potential of Brown? Part of me wishes he had been part of this deal for Pence. In Houston, they could have plugged him in rightfield and waited out all his struggles. They did this with Brett Wallace. No one would have gotten on him because the fan base there has dwindled. And he would have gotten major league experience. Can he learn anything at triple A?
    I also know that Jarred Cosart really wanted to be a Phillie. The Phillies prospects have got to be thinking: if you do well, you’ll be gone.

    1. This is my concern as well. I’m almost positive Brown is going to go down to AAA for the rest of the season and its just a waste. He has a much better obp than Ibanez and despite his rawness is a better fielder as well. He can also run and doesnt clog the bases. Yet Charlie will play the veteran and next year Brown will face even more ridiculous expectations when he actually has done a decent job thus far.

      1. The fact that the Phillies continue to make trades while refusing to include Brown in any deal tells me they have a high opinion of his future potential. He will be given every opportinity to win the LF job next spring.

    2. I think his injury in ST really derailed his season. He lost time in the spring to impress and get comfortable, then he came back and it was obvious he wasn’t totally comfortable. Then he starts hearing rumors and pressing more.

      I think him having a a full offseason to prepare, then a fresh start next spring when he should be handed the LF job should do him well. He has work to do, and I can kind of understand the Phillies stance right now. But I’m not terribly worried about his long term potential. I think the jury is out if hes a superstar, but I think at worst he’ll be a solid regular. It just won’t be this year.

    3. Domonic Brown is going to be fine. They made the move to upgrade because they don’t hit lefties well. Charlie loves the kid. He’s held his own this year and next year, his production or lack of production won’t be an issue because he’ll be an after thought.

      … and the fans getting on Brown aren’t true baseball fans. They’re the front runners who can’t name anybody that was on the team before 2009.

  16. Great write-up. I’m guessing there will be a premium on recouping some of the talent lost by adding players from the draft. Should make the next few weeks a lot of fun.

    The Phillies got a lot better today. Don’t let anyone make you think otherwise. We’re really a sad lot when the new guy becomes one of out best hitters overnight and might help push us closer to a title and we can’t be happy. It took two big-time prospects to get a controllable standout right-fielder that helped complete the line-up,

      1. They replaced Ben Francisco with Hunter Pence. How in any world did they only get “slightly better?”

        1. They didn’t replace Ben Francisco with Hunter Pence. They didn’t even replace Ibanez and his negative WAR with Hunter Pence. They replaced Domonic Brown with Hunter Pence at the major league level. That’s barely an improvement.

          1. In 2011 its a big improvement. Brown will be a good player but as of today, Pence is a significantly better player.

            1. Fine, I did exaggerate- I am quite frustrated that Ibanez is still starting. Pence is doing better this year overall, but I think looking just at their overall OPS lines overstates the difference. Pence’s splits away from Houston are significantly worse, and Brown’s walk (12.0% vs 6.9%) and strikeout (16.3% vs. 19.9%) rates are already better than Pence’s on the year.
              I’ll grant that Pence will most likely do better for the remainder of the year, especially when considering defense. I just think it’s less of an improvement than one would guess by looking at their slashlines so far this year.

  17. Sounds like I’m in the minority on this but can’t say I’m a fan of this deal and its not just because of the haul the ‘Stros netted. The main reason is that I don’t think Pence dramatically improves the Phils’ lineup in the postseason. Here is a retread of an earlier post:
    Hunter Pence career numbers vs. Braves and Giants pitching staffs*
    D. Lowe – 6/14 (.429/.529/.643); 1-HR, 3-BB, 4-K
    T. Hanson – 2/12 (.167/.167/.167); 5-K
    T. Hudson – 2/8 (.250/.250/.250)
    J. Jurrjens – 1/4 (.250/.400/.250); 1-BB
    C. Kimbrel – 1/2; 1-2B, 1-K
    J. Venters – 0/1; 1-BB, 1-K
    T. Lincecum – 3/22 (.136/.182/.356); 1-BB, 8-K
    B. Zito – 3/15 (.200/.294/.267); 1-2B, 3-K
    M. Cain – 3/12 (.250/.308/.750); 1-2B, 1-3B, 1-HR, 1-BB, 1-K
    B. Wilson – 0/1; 1-K
    M. Bumgarner – N/A
    R. Vogelsong – N/A
    * Baseball
    Okay. I think we are all agreed that the Phillies are not in danger of missing out on the playoffs so the proposed trade for Pence would only make sense if this made the Phils a better post-season team. Looking at Pence’s numbers versus the two most likely opponents the Phillies would face in this year’s NLCS doesn’t exactly inspire confidence.
    I know this is a fairly small sample size but it does make you wonder what Rube saw in Pence. Season stats are nice but they don’t mean much in a 7 game series in October.

      1. Nothing that jumps out at ya’ as any better or worse than Pence has put up. I think Rube kinda feels like he HAS TO make a deal to validate his position as GM sometimes. Oh well, the kids in the lineup now so hope he makes these numbers irrelevant.

      1. Well, you may be right but this trade hinges on what Pence does in the post-season. If he can’t help them get back to and possibly win the WS this trade was a bust. Believe me, I sure hope this kid does the trick, but I’ve got a feeling that this deal won’t be a game-changer like previous deadline deals.

    1. That’s just silly. I guess we should have gone out and looked for someone who hits the Giants and Braves pitchers then? If the best option was JD Drew, should we have gone after him? I don’t think so. The fact is, nobody hits Lincecum or Cain or Kimbrel or Venters or Jurrjens that well. If Albert Pujols has similar numbers, would you not have “inspired confidence??” I think you would. (Pence is not Pujols, no sh*t). We got an above-average player for at least the next 2.5 years and lost nothing at the major league level. We are a better team.

      1. So what you are saying it doesn’t matter what this kid can do against the pitcher’s the Phils will most likely encounter in the playoffs. What is the point of bringing him on board if he hits a buck fifty in the NLCS? How does the deal look then? So what if he helps the Phillies to 100 wins in the regular season and then looks like the second coming of Jeff Stone come this October. You don’t think GM’s should look at that kinda stuff?

        1. There’s no way to predict succes over a handful of games in a short series. Posting what 1 player in the lineup has done in his 1 AB against certain guts does even less. Were not relying on pence to carry the team in the NLCS, he’s just another weapon. And we could still beat anyone without him. If we were facing the giants in a 7 game series right now what would you predict. I don’t ever see fans pick their team to lose. If they think they’re underdogs then they’d say phils in 7. I think its funny that youre si scared of SF/Atl but dont respect any of the centeal teams at all. Also funny things happen in the playoffs where a pitcher can work a key 10 pitch AB off CC and a ball that travels 30 feet from the plate can win a world series game in a walkoff.

  18. PP, thanks for the balanced and well thought out article and that there are many sides to judging a trade and its results.

  19. I’m sad, I was out drinking with my girlfriend when my dad texted me the trade and I couldn’t shut up about it even though she doesn’t care. I wouldn’t be nearly as upset if they gave up singleton and Cosart for a good ballplayer but they didn’t, RAJ gave them up for an average/ above avergae ball player.

  20. I’ll be honest and say I’m not a huge fan of this trade. I really think Singleton will pan out and be an elite hitter.

    Still, the Phillies are a better team now than they were yesterday.

      1. Dammit…i would have driven him to the airport and everything.

        Maybe someone else will be stupid and take him and Carpenter

        1. JIm Crane, , new owner of the Astros, according to Richard Justice of the Houston Chronicle—DOES NOT want any more big-league salary for the immediate future—so it will be a minor leaguer.

  21. C: Marson
    1B: Singleton
    2B: Cardenas
    SS: Villar
    3B: Donald
    CF: Gose
    RF: Taylor

    SP: Drabek
    SP: Cosart
    RP: Knapp
    RP: Zeid

    Kind of interesting:

  22. First no one should be ok with this deal until we find out whta the other pieces of the puzzle turn out to be??? Valle? Galvis? Biddle? May?
    With that said I am ok with including Singleton in any deal for Pence, but not Cosart. Beside Brown, which sounds like he is off the table, I would have not included Cosart & May. Strikeout pitchers like them are not easy to come by. Although with Cosart’s somewhat rocky injury concern it may turn out not to be as big of an issue (I hope things go well for him as he looks like a very talented kid). I wish they would have offered up a couple other highly regarded prospects like say Biddle and Pettibone or Rodriguez. A lefty and a rightly plus Singleton.

    First, it appears Singleton is destined to only play 1B as the OF experiment did not go as planned (so his value at this point is diminished with recent pick Greene down the line). Second, we have Hamels & Lee probably for a few more years (if Cole resigns and after this year they better sign him) so a LH is also not a huge necessity for a few years.

    I am not overly impressed with Pence. He is a solid player but no superstar talent so a few decent pitching prospects is all I would have offered. But as we have seen in the past, prospects are just that just prospects and may never even make it to the show. If the Phillies win the WS then everyone will look back and say it was worth the price. But the future is being mortgaged for the moment. If Reuben signs more draft picks it will take away some of the sting.

    1. the odds of one of those guys being in the deal are slim to none… it’s basically been confirmed the guy is a marginal prospect.

      A few decent pitching prospects wouldn’t have gotten this deal done. The Phillies had to give up what they did to get him. It’s a fair return for both teams.

      1. It is a fair return indeed.

        “Strikeout pitchers like them are not easy to come by”—- I know what you mean, but in a year where Cosart is finally healthy, his K numbers are down to like 6.7/9. He’s not exactly dominating in a pitcher-friendly league.

  23. PP,
    Nice write up. I like this trade. Pence is a nice player who fits the Phils lineup nicely. Will miss Singleton but Larry Greene replaces Howard and hopefully the “toolsey” outfielders develop like the Phils think they will and we won’t have to wonder what Singleton would be like in left field.

  24. From Justice: Pence will love the Phillies because they play the game with some of the same edge and anger he brings to the ballpark. When I described Hunter to a Philly guy on Friday, he said, “Sounds exactly like Chase Utley.”

    Hunter leaves a nice legacy around here. He was a Texas kid who made it to the big leagues with grit and hard work and desire. The Astros haven’t had many players outwork Hunter. Last season when he got off to a bad start, he later said, “I read a book about relaxation, but I found it wasn’t for me. I’ve got to play angry and swing hard.”

    In his first days in the big leagues, he made veterans laugh with his enthusiasm and the seriousness with which he approached the job. Remember him diving for a lob warmup toss between innings? That moment spoke volumes about Hunter.

  25. This should make everybody feel a little better (from Jayson Stark):

    Until late Friday, #Astros insisted #Phillies had to include 2 more of their top 10 prospects, including 2010 top pick Jesse Biddle #trades”

    Pretty sure people woulda been burning the board down if Biddle was in this deal. (I would have been among them.)

  26. Updated the above to indicate the last PTBNL will come from the Lakewood roster, probably after the season. It almost assuredly will not be Jesse Biddle. I can see the Astros having interest in another local kid, Cameron Rupp

    1. Sure hope Rupp is not included. He’s the ONLY catcher in the system not named Valle who can be seen as a MLB prospect in 2-3 seasons.

      The catcher position would repeat the 3b SS MIA of the last several years, if Rupp is gone.

    2. I don’t know if this have been mentioned or not, but because the player is not going to be named until sometime in August does this indicate that the PTBNL is a 2010 draftee – as they can’t be traded for a full year?

  27. so when Dom goes down he might as well be put in LF right away right? I mean Pence is gonna be here for awhile so might as well get him started now, correct?

  28. ESPN says the second PTBNL is Astros choice from A Ball guys – none considered top prospects. I’m not linking you… and read the headline story about Pence.

  29. Another key point I think – the development this year of our pitchers in the high minors and those that graduated – Stutes, Bastardo, Worley, Aumont, Schwimer, and DeFratus – helps us afford Pence over the next few years because we are going to have 4 or 5 roster spots occupied by solid pitchers making at or near the league minimum. If we had to go out and shop in free agency for the Durbins, Contreras’s, and Baez’s of the world, we may not have been able to afford Pence.

  30. I’m slow. Obviously. It took me 10 minutes to read three posts and make my little comment above. Dang. So now it’s Lakewood guys? Kinda hope it doesn’t wind up being Rupp. He’s become real interesting to me the last few months.

    1. I think Bonilla qualifies as more than a marginal prospect. The Phillies have spoken highly of his changeup as a plus secondary offering and he’s dominated Lakewood this year. I’d like to see him get a shot at Clearwater since he’s 21(although he’s only been that age for a month) and he’s got that changeup, but obviously that can’t happen if they trade him.

  31. Great trade. You get a known of great need for 3 unknowns. If it comes back to bite us in 2014 or so, and we have 2 WS in our pockets, who cares. Pence will thrive playing behind the great Philly Defense, and batting behind Howard. This will help the Phils offense. I don’t know if Singelton or Cosart will make the bigs. However, I know that Pence is a solid RF for this team in need of a RH hitter.

  32. great analysis, long time reader..first time both of your sites James you are an terrific writer.

    1. Surely not Hewitt—would you take him? One of the following I would assume—Collier, Santana, Buchanan or now I have been reading from above posts C. Rupp.

  33. Ruben is starting to remind of of an American President who thinks we can spend and spend without having to pay the piper some day. Or, better yet, he reminds me of the Federal Reserve. At some point, these high value prospects are going to pan out. Look at Carrasco, Floyd, Gio Gonzalez (granted we got him in a trade) for starters. I’ll also bet Drabek will be formidable on the ML mound within the next year. If Amaro does use this as a reason to fill out this draft class with some good signees like Garvey, Moore, and Quinn (who I’m starting to worry about) I’ll feel a lot better. I also thought that Domonic was really coming along in terms of his plate discipline and getting contact. All of a sudden you look up and he was up to .252 and it was a slow but steady climb. Now, he’s going back down, no question about it, so I guess he’s our new number one prospect again.

      1. The Giants won last year and their big pickups were Pat Burrell and Cody Ross. So, it’s not a price they had to pay, but a price they chose to pay.

        1. The Phillies put so much into this season, they weren’t going to take a chance on those guys.

          It’s going to hurt them in the future. They know that. They also know that their window of competitiveness could be over by the time Cosart and Singleton are ready.

          1. It will definitely be over by then if they don’t develop some young players of their own. I can see putting Cosart in the deal, but not Singleton as well. I don’t think this move was so necessary that they had to part with their top 2 prospects.

            1. To take the other side of this. 3 years ago, were Singleton and Cosart the cornerstones of the franchise moving forward?

              Singleton wasn’t even in the organization and Cosart was just drafted and hadn’t signed.

              People keep preparing to jump off a bridge, thinking the franchise will end in 2013. Right now we have Halladay, Lee, Utley, Pence, Hamels, Victorino and Howard. In 3 or 4 years, as some of those guys move on, we might have Hanley Ramirez, Matt Kemp, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Eric Hosmer.

              Trading 2 of our Big 6 isn’t fun, but we didn’t gut the farm system. The funny thing is, the Phillies are a huge market team now….HUGE market team. Massive payroll. Well stocked farm system, even with this trade, yet a lot of our fans still act like we’re a small market team and the circus will be leaving town any day now. With a $175M payroll (and no signs of it going down any time soon), there isn’t going to be a massive dropoff. The current team, with Pence in the fold, does not need a major injection for another 3 years. The lineup, outside of Polanco and possibly Victorino if he departs, will be completely set. And as those guys leave, their money will turn over and we’ll be able to afford replacements.

              Way too much panic. Waaaaay too much.

            2. But do you really think it’s sustainable to keep building our team with other teams players? So far, the core of the Phillies is still largely home grown. Only Halladay and Lee could be considered “core pieces” who didn’t play in our farm system.

              And it’s true that Singleton and Cosart weren’t even in the system a few years ago, they may very well be replaced. But their replacements will make it to the majors (hypothetically) another 2-3 years after them, so it delays the arrival of some help from within the system.

            3. I agree with PP. You need to develop a player a year to add to the roster and with a payroll this high you can keep filling the roster with valuable free agents and trades if we keep developing talent the way we have been. Where it all breaks down is if you sign the wrong free agents – Soriano, Werth, Rowand, Zito, etc.

    1. Ruben is managing a big market ballclub right now, something perhaps that some Phillies fans don’t appreciate given the franchise’s history. We’re now in the favorable position of bringing in players who have already been developed by other teams simply because we can afford to do so. Enjoy it. Keep the seats filled. This is how a big market club should operate

  34. Wade on Houston radio said that the Astros have a list of players to choose from and that their scouts will scout the players through August and then decide. Wade also said he asked for Cosart and Singleton during the Oswalt negotiations.

    Stark said the hold up was the Astros wanting Biddle too and the Phillies said no.

    Hopefully Santana isn’t on the list. I still have a good feeling about him.

    I’ll miss Singleton. There was something about him that I fell in love with when he was drafted. Pence isn’t a superstar, but hopefully he helps this team win another championship or two before Cosart/Singleton reach the majors.

  35. As an Astros fan, I enjoyed reading about the guys we got last year on this site and I enjoyed it again now. I’ve enjoyed watching Hunter the last few years as much as anyone the Astros have ever had. Y’all will love the fire he brings and the way he plays the game. I certainly hope the Phillies win the series now. Thank you for the insight and I look forward to reading the 2012 Astros/Phillies trade breakdown.

    1. Do u have a good short stop we can trade for next year when Rollins leaves? Then u can come back and read about a few more prospects we traded u

  36. Thanks PP. Your perspective and presentation always amazes. One quick thought: suppose we win the world series this year and are playing for it the next three; is that worth it if all the prospects go on to be superstars. Just wondering.

    1. 2 World Series is worth what we gave up no matter what player they pick from their list. All that matters is those rings and Broad St parades

  37. I’d prefer not to lose any more prospects but I could see the following be potential targets that the Phillies would consider offering: Hewitt, Alvarez, Mendez, Duran, Buchanan, Claypool, Hollands. Hewitt would best the best choice for Houston as his potential is obviously the highest but he would available in the Rule 5 draft. If nothing else he has Greg Golson value for defense and baserunning.

    I’d like the Phillies to keep Biddle, Santana, Collier, Rupp, Manzanillo, and Bonilla.

    1. We think alike. I would be totally cool if the fourth guy came from your first list of players but if I had to guess I think it will be one of Rupp, Manzanillo or Collier.

    2. They can pick up Hewitt in the offseason when he is given his unconditional release. They will pick someone else. Don’t be surprised if it’s Rizzotti.

      1. Rizzotti! That is scarcasm correct? He is AA—Ed Wade has a list from A level players. Plus Rizz has only one MLB position available to play–DH.

  38. Ok, so since we know the other guy will come from Lakewood, and supposedly a marginal prospect, here are the players on the current Blueclaws roster who would cause me to be peeved if they are the guy:

    Biddle (obviously it can’t be him)

    Manzanillo, Rupp and Collier are real prospects to me, but they seem to fit the “marginal” tag.

  39. Maybe Im wrong but too many times it feels we get caught up in the little things and forget to enjoy the overall. The Phillies have the best record and just added a solid bat. Better to just enjoy this and enjoy watching the games and not worry about what “could be” in 2-4 years. Phillies are favored to win it all so lets enjoy that.

  40. Actually as long as Manual is managing the Phils he will not give a propsect a fair shake anyway..the only reason any of the rookie relief guys got a chance was because they had so many injuries. So Cosart and Singleton were at best 4- 5 years away… They will have a much better chance breaking in with the Astros.

    1. If Singleton is to start next year in AA, and Cosart as well for that matter, why should we expect that they each take 2 years to complete each level? Maybe Manuel hasn’t given younger players playing time because there haven’t been any really good prospects that have come up while he was here. It’s not like Dom Brown is just riding the pine.

  41. Ruben was very gracious to Brown. He said that Brown did a nice job for the Phils. Ruben and his team think that he is going to be an outstanding ballplayer and a Phillie for many years to come. His tone of voice suggests he thinks Brown is extremely talented. The trade was not a knock on Brown. He said that Brown was learning on the job. This soothes me. Rumors were swirling that Brown, Cosart and Singleton were going to Houston for Pence. I was stressing over this and I thought, if Ruben does this, I’m going to become an Astros fan. This is a painful trade, but I’m still a Phillies guy.
    Hunter Pence is a fine player. He is better than Brown at this point. Roy Halladay was visibly moved by this move. This is a guy with limited years left in this league and he was stuck in Toronto where they had good teams but their management never made the big splash and showed a commitment to the players. He was working very hard in Toronto and the front office was not doing its part. This is good to see and I’d love to see Roy hoist a trophy this year.
    Beltran is better than Pence, but Pence is controllable, so we actually will get more value than the Giants. Wheeler is their Cosart. Singleton could be blocked and Zeid is a nice piece but we have good depth in relief prospects. I wonder if we are done, though. They want another reliever, right?

  42. I think Singleton is a bona fide stud. Combine the great swing, present plate discipline and advanced age in a hitter friendly league, and he’s as sure a bet as a 19-year-old can be. The Phillies will miss him, but first baseman who can hit the ball are not terribly hard to acquire.

    Cosart will be missed as well, but definitely less so than J-Sing. The stuff is there, but he’s an inverted W guy with a funky delivery to boot, so I’m extremely worried about his health. Also, his numbers this year have concerned me, as guys who become true MLB aces generally put up outrageous pitching lines throughout their minor league careers (see Hamels). So he could be great, or he could get hurt every year.

    At any rate, the 2012-13 outfield of Dom Brown, Victorino, and Pence will be very good offensively and average at least defensively. I hope Ruben buys out one or two years of Pence’s free agency as well, at about 10-12 million per.

    We gave up too much, but rarely are guys with 2 years of control moved at the deadline so it’s hard to judge. The Giants gave up a superior pitching prospect than Cosart for 1/3 of a season of Beltran (about 2 WAR). We gave up Cosart and Singleton for at least 10 WAR from Pence.

  43. So who gets sent down? My guess is they send Brown back to AAA to play every day until 9/1. Also Valdez goes when Polanco is activated.

    1. I would like to Ben Francisco go down to AAA or traded as he had his chance and did not take advantage of it.

  44. Are they done making moves or does Rube go after a reliever still? Adams possibly or maybe a lesser arm.

  45. Very interesting! Not my choice but they say he plays hard.
    HP has dropped nearly 50 points off his BA in three weeks
    Does that mean he is due to get really hot here? I hope that is so.

    Singleton’s fate was sealed when he failed in the outfield and there are
    plenty of pitchers left.So good deal Ruben

  46. I have to keep reminding myself this is the price of doing business, if you are depressed read Keith Law ( ) . I thought I would feel like part of us had been ripped away but I feel more like I let Cosart and Singleton out into the world, this trade may look bad for us in the end, but I remember this in the context of something law said on a Podcast in that you can only evaluate a trade in the information known at the time and what we know is:
    Cosart: #1 stuff potential reliever delivery
    Singleton: The tools to be a power 1B or above average LF, still really young and far away
    Zeid: Organizational filler/Fringe Reliever
    PTBNL: Likely a pitcher who grades as a future reliever
    Seems like a fair trade at this time, no clear loser or winner, I personally think Phils win in the short term and Asros win in the long term and the Phils don’t care.

  47. I think a lot of Phans need to take a breather – the hands down best position player on the ‘Stros is NOT just an “average” player. The guy will not lead this line-up, but he’s no slouch. I have reservations about selling Singleton at High A since I think his value will grow as he moves up the ranks, but this is a significant upgrade in the OF. I’m a big fan of anonymous’ suggestion of calculating net present-value – a challenging venture that I can’t begin to wrap my head around at 1 in the morning….

  48. The weird thing is, with the general downturn in offense around baseball, this is Pence’s best season by OPS+, which accounts for league average. Offense is really down this year.

  49. I have liked Pence’s game since he was a bug-eyed rookie CF who choked up on the bat and ran like a spaz. He had one play against the Phils his rookie year where he had to run up that cheezy burm they have in CF to get a ball…they showed a slow-mo replay of the face he made after being surprised by the burm and my drink almost came out of my nose, I laughed so hard…

    Pence is a solid player, an above-average RFer, and he plays like his hair is on fire. Utley and Halladay will respect his intensity, and Phillies fans will love him. I have tickets for the game tonight, and I look forward to being part of the standing O when he steps up to the plate the first time. I fully recognize that we gave up a lot, but I see Pence as a stabilizing, complimentary piece that fits in perfectly with the makeup of this team. We are a better team for the next 2-3 years because we got him, IMO, and he increases the likelihood that we see another parade.

    Welcome to Philly, Hunter.

  50. I am more at peace with Singleton remembering we have Larry Greene (have in a sense).

    I didn’t want to lose him, or at least would have traded him for a bigger talent, but I can handle the loss knowing that.

  51. Still hate the trade. Agree on your evaluation of the prospects, but Pence is not much of an upgrade on Brown even this year. Pence just isn’t that good. All he has going for him, aside from slightly above average defense, is mid range power. Doesn’t take a walk, strikes out a lot for the type of player he is.

    What seems odd to me is not the pieces of your analysis but your conclusion. Despite correctly being very enthusiastic about Singleton, and almost as unenthusiastic about Pence as I am, you still come out in favor of the trade. I don’t really see the logic there. Let’s say he increases the team’s chance to win this year by 1% – very generous IMO. Is that worth losing a player who is highly likely to be at least a solid regular for years, and could be a perennial all star, and a pitcher who carries a ton of risk but could be a top of the rotations starter? Not in my book.

    Just a horrible, hideous trade. Amaro must go.

    1. As I said in the other post, I think you’re dead wrong.

      Pence has a 132 OPS+. The highest mark of his career. I had other targets in mind, he wasn’t my first choice, but he’s much more accomplished than Brown, and more importantly, the 2012 OF is locked in now.

      Yes, trading Cosart and Singleton stings. But neither guy is a sure thing to do anything. You are wailing away like the farm system was just gutted. Just like it was gutted when we traded Drabek and Gose, or Carrasco and Donald and Marson.

      I’m sorry, but I think you are massively overreacting and not thinking critically here.

      1. Yeah, he has a career high OPS this season. Gee, I always thought that was the WORST time to trade for a player, because your buying high. And Pence is a classic example of that.

        (1) His OPS (I prefer the much more accurate wRC+, but in this case it yields a similar result) is inflated by his .370 BABIP. That will regress to his career BABIP mark, meaning also regression to his his career OPS and wRC+ marks (117 in both cases), likely this year, certainly over the 2 1/2 years they control him. His BIP luck explains most of the reason why his wRC+ and OPS are higher than his career marks.
        (2) Brown had a fine July (in terms of hitting); his numbers were headed up. His wWC+ (and OPS) were going to finish higher than his current 103 (wRC+).
        (3) Defense is, using the analytical metrics, closer than you acknowledge. This year especially Pence grades out below average using those metrics. You want to talk about sample size and year to year variations? Fine. But then apply that to your analysis of hitting as well.

        That said, for this season Pence is a little better. I conceded that. But even assuming that current trends will continue – as above, unlikely in my view – projecting forward you get about 1 1/2 more wins from Pence (using WAR). I estimated one win, assuming some regression by Pence and some improvement by Brown.

        Going forward, it’s harder to estimate. Pence versus Ibanez is a bigger upgrade, but on the other hand the salary – over 10 million per season won’t be a big bargain, and maybe no bargain at all, for Pence – is salary that can’t be spent elsewhere.

        I liked those other trades you mentioned – all of them – because we got good value for what we gave up. This time we didn’t. We got mediocrity, and, for the first time in recent years, traded a special prospect in Singleton. The relevant comparison is the Blanton trade. Pence is a Blanton level player (Blanton at the time of the trade, that is). I liked that trade, but only because they didn’t give up much. If they gave up this much, I would have been screaming then just as I’m screaming now.

    2. Go check JWerth and HPence’s stats and then see if you’re barking up the same tree…Chillax!!

    3. Larry, I think you’re being irrational as well. Pence’s OPS this year is BABIP driven. But his OPS+ over his entire career is 117. He’s replacing Dom Brown for six weeks, Raul Ibanez long term. And he’s 28, the Phillies have him only for his prime years.

      The prospects are nice but Cosart could easily get hurt, Singleton could fail to develop power. To me, this trade is about making the Phillies better in 2012 and ’13. Which really makes sense, stay good while franchise player Chase Utley is still here.

  52. Domonic Brown’s 2011 OPS+ is 103
    Hunter Pence’s 2011 OPS+ is 132

    Thats not a minor difference. Also, according to advanced defensive metrics, Pence is an above average defensive OF, despite looking like he might spike himself every time he runs. Brown’s defense is bad at best, horrendous at worst.

    1. Major BABIP boost to that OPS though. Hard to believe he’ll sustain a .370 BABIP the rest of the year. I’d love it if it happened, but it’s just not likely.

  53. I have waffled about the potential of this deal for a week. But, that was mostly based on not wanting to give up Brown, Worley or adding another guy like May or Biddle. The way I see it is that Singleton was an asset we would not utilize.So, in essence, we did not give up much, other than an asset. Regarding Cosart, who doesn’t love his arm? The guy has big potential, but in my opinion, it will be as a closer. Watching him in the futures game made me think he is wired to be a closer. His stuff played up big time in relief. As a starter, his numbers are pedestrian. I really did not want to give up May or Biddle. I always go be h/ip and k/ip regarding minor league guys and Cosart has been ok there, but not great. Zeid could be a good reliever, but we still have guys in our system to fill that void when it presents itself.

    So, I give it a thumbs up. Watching Brown, who I love, make 1 mistake in every game worries me for the postseason. Last night, he should have been called out on a pickoff, the day before he misses a fly ball, he throws to the wrong bases and sometimes dugout, missed a base, etc. All mistakes made by a raw guy. We cannot afford those in a 3-2 playoff game, just can’t. I’d rather bank on Pence.

    Just a random thought; I could see Worley or Brown now going to SD for Adams. I don’t see Rube being done.

  54. PERFECT!! Once again Ruben shows respect for his veterans most notably Halladay with his win now approach. Singleton can only play 1st base, enough said. Cosart high ceiling but we will see. Zeid and PTBNL thanks for helping us get Pence. D. Brown is not ready and needs more time at LHV. We need to win today while we have this pitching staff intact. I agree that Ruben is not done. Beware Dom Brown.

  55. I am far more upset that Pence is replacing Brown in the lineup instead of Ibanez than I am about the prospects given up.

    1. Hey send Brown down for a month. Have him get all the swings he can there and he needs to play left field only. That will be his position now. In September I would give him a few starts there and in 2012 it his position (everyday).

  56. If Phillies target a RP with a significant salary, is it possible to have Kendrick as the PTBNL in the Pence deal so that they can remain under the luxory tax?

    I hate losing Cosart, and I see flaws in Pence, but I still think this was a good deal for the Phillies. It helps them this year. Period. I hope Rube now signs a few more draft picks than he was planning on (including this Giles kid).

    1. Kendrick won’t be the PTBNL. He does have value as a long reliever when Oswalt comes back next week. I agree about signing our picks. I hope we hear that they sign some picks in the next couple days, Especially now we have 1 million from the Astros.

  57. From ESPN Jim Bowden this morning (he gives Philly an A and Houston a C- in the deal):

    The 28-year-old Pence was the Astros’ representative in the All-Star Game this year. He’s a complete player who looks awkward in everything he does. He is a support player, not an impact player, but one who will fit in nicely in right field for the Phillies, and most importantly fit in nicely in the fifth position of the Phillies’ lineup behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Pence is not a high-OPS or high-OBP player, and has never driven in 100 runs.

    However, he has been one of the most consistent hitters in the National League over the past four years. Pence should benefit from playing at Citizens Bank Park, and should improve on his normal .280 average with 25 home runs and 80 RBIs. Besides getting a boost from the park, being inserted in a lineup to bat after Utley and Howard will definitely help.

    He is not the kind of player you measure by stats, and he’s extremely strange looking at times, from the awkward throwing angle to the weird leg pattern as he rounds the bases. But he is a winner and definitely helps the Phillies’ chances of getting to the World Series.

    He was hitting .309/.356/.472 (BA/OBP/SLG) with 26 doubles, 11 home runs and 62 RBIs in 99 games at the time of the trade, on pace for career bests in many categories. He’s a good right fielder on a world championship-caliber

    1. Thanks for posting Ketch. Another point to consider in evaluating Pence, are the words Gillick is fond of saying the past few years: He used to think a player’s MLB performance was something like 70% talent and 30% character. Now he thinks it’s 70% character. I think there should be consensus that Pence is a high character guy. He’ll fit well, and get a lift playing in this atmosphere.

    2. Jim Bowden also went postal on a guy on the radio (MLB Channel on XM) who called in and said Marlon Byrd had a higher OPS this year than Pence at a more premium position. He told the caller to throw stats out the window, that Pence was a winner. Grit, scrappiness, and hustle might have been mentioned as well.

      So yeah…I’ll take with a grain of salt anything this guy says in the future.

  58. Let’s put this trade in the books. What will be the associated moves. To replace Singleton, Murphy to CLW? Who would take Murph’s spot? Dugan? Do you want Dugan playing 1B or do you want him in the OF? Alonzo played 1B last night when Murph got ejected last night.

    Ruf can go back to his natural position 1B at CLW. An OF’er could come off the DL. Myers and Gillies are both on it but I don’t know if either is ready. If you want to push Collier, and he’s not part of the trade, he could move up and Dugan goes the LKW.

    Cosart’s replacement could be easier but it depends on innings. Buchanon or Claypool would be logical choices. Bonilla or Manzanillo, I don’t think so. Shreve would be interesting but he has started in a long time. If one of those pitchers move up, then wouldn’t it be nice if Nick Hernandez was ready. Shreve could do some starting He could take a starters spot at LKW. But if it’s a Wlmprt guy, I think Nesseth would be my first choice. Lino Martinez, Austin Wright and Adam Morgan are all lefties and they wouldn’t be far behind. Lino would be the last choice because of his age and he’s been up and down.

  59. I’m OK with this trade on one condition, RAJ needs to open the check book and get a few more of these draft picks signed. I don’t want to hear anything about being a big market team if we can’t drop 7-9 million between the draft and LA.

    Pence is a good player. I’ll enjoy watching him. Will he put us over the edge and give us another trophy? He helps the odds for sure, how much 5%? I’ll take that.

    IMO Singleton will be a very good player, and if Cosart can stay healthy he’s going to be a lights out closer. If the player to be named later is Santana there is an outside shot he turns into something special. I am OK with lossing that if we can restock the system – either for future trades, or as this name of this site suggests, developing those guys into future Phillies….

    I’m not a fair weather fan. I follow the Phillies up or down, and I’d like to sustain that ‘window’ of good performance. I remember what its like to watch a bad team, and the price of going for broke and winning now is that you end up broke – unless you reload the system. Let’s go get some of those tough signs RAJ!!!!!

    1. Aside from the fact that the team is still just loaded with prime time young pitching and that Singleton would now effectively be blocked for at least several years, we now have a team with no discernable holes and that will likely remain that way for at least another year or two. During that time, we can re-stock the system and allow the younger pitchers and our key middle infield prospects to mature. Larry was right that we got the short end of the stick on overall value, but he is just dead wrong that this trade does not help the team or puts the team in a position where it will inevitably decline.

      Again, my only comment is that Ruben needs to be better at anticipating future needs because when you buy talent at the trade deadline, you pay an enormous premium.

  60. One minor quibble: You write that Pence should provide 11-15 WAR over the next few years, and say that that is significant value. That is significant production, but its value is directly related to how much we’re paying for him. Pence is in his final arbitration years, so we will be saving a little relative to what we would have paid for an equivalent free agent, but we’re not saving much. So he provides decent production, but not a ton of value.

    I know it’s not much fun to think about money, and certainly Pence pays for himself if he’s the difference between a title this year or not, but in the average case if one of the players we gave up turns out to be a decent major leaguer (and I expect Singleton to be better than decent), we gave up more value long-term.

    I like what this does for our team this year, but it just doesn’t seem like the wise move taking the future into account.

    1. Correct. Also 11-15 WAR is optimistic. Over the past 2 1/2 years, per fangraphs, he has produced exactly 10 WAR. I’ll be generous and not take into account the fact that this year is almost 2/3 over. That yeilds a more reaonable extimate of 10 WAR over the period that the Phillies control him.

    2. Pence has been worth 2.6 WAR this year. Per the fangraphs valuation, that equates to $11.6M. His 2.6 WAR has come in 100 games, and if you pro rate that out, you get 4.2 WAR in 162 games. Round that down and assume 4.0 WAR, and his current rate is $4.46M per 1 WAR, he’ll end up worth over $16M this year while making $6.9M in salary. If 1 WAR is worth between $3.9 and $4.5M, and he performs at a 3.5-4WAR, he’ll be worth between $14M-16M per season. I expect that his contract he signs here after this winter will give him an AAV of around $10M, maybe a tick more. So as long as he continues to perform, he’ll provide value relative to what he is paid.

      1. That’s exactly right. And he is a lot less expensive than obtaining a RH bat in the FA market AND losing a draft pick in the process (in fact, I think it’s 50/50 that the Phils just offer Madson arbitration and go to Plan B with their bullpen, God knows they have upper level bullpen arms). The more one looks at the the very specific circumsances surrouding this trade, the better the trade looks.

      2. First, let’s clarify one thing – IMO, a star level player, even if you have to pay him what he is worth, is special & worth giving up a lot. A player like Pence – who we all agree is no more than a solid contributor – not so much. My point isn’t that he won’t be worth his salary, but that he won’t be a signficant bargain. For a player of his type, that’s just not worth 2 top 30 in baseball prospects.

        Beyond that, your assumptions, while not wildly unrealistic, are a tad on the optimistic side. Why would you assume that a player who adverages 3.5 WAR over the past 5 years (I’m assuming 4.0 WAR this year) would be worth 3.5 – 4.0 WAR per season? 3.5 WAR per year is more realistic. Or say 3.2 – 3.8 if you want a range. And the estimates I’ve heard for his salary are over 10 million next year, even higher the year after. Not a huge difference, but if he is worth 14 million per year and gets paid 12 million, that’s not a meaningful bargain.

      3. Except we are not paying him that money this year – the Astros are paying about 2/3’s the rest of his salary. This makes him a terrific deal this year value wise assuming he continues on his current pace.

  61. Giving up cozart hurts to me. love the potential, he has chance to be a really good starter. I know our payroll is going to be high, but lets sign some of these kids and find the next cozart or singleton,this is my real beef with the team, they are spending big and thats great,but wouldnt be nice to have a outfielder ready to replace a player from the system, like now if we had a good shortstop replacement for jimmy who was younger it would be great, cause we could get younger and use the money to sign one of our own in hamels. which i feel will get done,

  62. Agreed, that we need to sign a few key draft choices. Regarding what we gave up, let’s not lose sight of the fact that in the past few years, we have given up tons of prospects; Drabek, Gose, D’Arnaud, Donald, Marson, Gonzalez, Floyd, Knapp, Carrasco, etc. The point is we still had a top 5 system with Cosart and Singleton. We can replenish quickly by signing Quinn and Greene and a few others. Gotta love what Tyler Green is doing so far as an 11th rounder. BTW, I think Neseth will be a fast riser and with the pitching we still have losing Cosart will not hurt that badly. I wanted to keep May and Biddle ahead of Cosart.
    In order to get something, you have to give up something. This is % true in this deal. With an aging roster, we added an athletic RF which will allow us to add Brown over Ibanez next year to upgrade the outfield trememdously. The rotation is stacked and we have a stud catcher developing quickly along with many bullpen pieces on the rise. Next step; ss and 3b. JRoll will be a tough call. Polanco’s replacement will be a key over the next year and a half. Would love to see Mattair develop.
    I have been saying for a year, we have a system with depth for the 1st time in team history. The fact that have consistenly developed players has allowed us to deal two big cogs and still have a top system. Where is Greg? Rick Schu? Bob Dernier? Tori Luvullo? Bobby Estalella?
    Get my point??

    1. great trade but ive been saying that for a year. as i recall some nitwit a few weeks ago said pence was not that good. i realize that people grow attached to minor leagers but with very few exceptions minor league players never see the light of day. the key is knowing who is a real prospect. right now i only see valle as a position player keeper. a few pitchers . the rest can all be traded as that is the way to keep your big team in w.s. contention every year. along of course with a free agent here and there.

  63. As far as this year goes you could of gotten almost the same production out of Marlon Byrd,
    A little less power , much better defense.And the cubs would of kissed your tokass(no spell check on that one) and paid much of the money for one prospect not of A quality.
    But hell it is done and good luck to Mr. Pence. OH and thanks again Ed.

  64. Now this is interesting RUMORS is reporting the Braves are interesed in Marlon Byrd. Almost a side by side comparison would be available the rest of the year.

  65. I like the trade. Pence is certainly overrated by the normal Phillies fan, but he is a solid player and will be fine in LF or RF the next two years. As long as we kept Dom Brown, I’m fine with it. Singleton and Cosart were good players and probably will be big leaguers but they weren’t without their flaws and it’s not like they were Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg. Best of luck to them in Houston and we will trade for them again in six years.

  66. Pence’s 2011 OPS with runners in scoring position – .863

    Werth’s 2010 OPS with runners in scoring position – not so much


  67. The Phillies farm system contribution to the big club this year:

    Pence (via Singleton, Cosart, Zeid and PTBNL)

    That’s a pretty good year, even for those who seem to think that having a highly ranked minor league system is more important that having a good major league team.

    It is tempting to fear that there is little to come up in the next two years, but how many of us predicted such significant contributions from Worley, Bastardo and Stutes?

    If you can’t find your joy in all this, why bother devoting so much (or any) time to it?

    1. I would imagine the contributions for next year will come from the bullpen, likely Schwimmer and DeFratus, with the possibility of Hyatt if we are forced to use a spot starter here or there.

    2. Because it is SO much more fun to be snarky on an internet forum and belittle other people’s opinions…


      I’ll be at CBP…on my feet in about 6 hours…as part of the standing O to welcome Hunter Pence to town.

      I can’t wait.

  68. jaysonst Jayson Stark
    #Astros sent $2 million to #Phillies to help pay Pence’s salary, source says. So Phillies won’t owe tax & have $ for right reliever #trades

  69. I would have preferred Carlos Quentin. I believe he offered more to the Phillies lineup for this year, but who knows if he was really available.
    Pence is an upgrade to the team though. Denying that is just being silly. It pushes Ibanez down in the lineup, so we never have see Ibanez ridiculously placed in the 5 spot. It allows the Phillies to put Victorino higher in the lineup if Cholly realizes Victorino is a better offensive player than Polanco. It legitimately lengthens the lineup.
    I understand LarryM’s issues with the deal. Hunter Pence is not a great player. He is simply solid and will not provide anymore out of the 5 spot than Victorino would. He is also very correct that the Phillies payed more for Pence than they payed for Blanton, while they are just slightly above average players. I think he is off base though, because the circumstances are different. Oakland is always having a fire sale. Why would Houston trade their best player for any less? They weren’t looking to move him. You cannot hope to just steal other teams quality players for nothing, in every trade.
    The deal was more than fair, and while saying that, Cosart was my favorite Phillies’ prospect by far.

  70. My new found Philly greed wants Mike Adams now and wonders what it would cost to get him. Also Im hoping the Phils keep Brown and Mayberry up as the 4th n 5th of and bounce Francisco. Its possible

  71. $2M certainly better than 1. I know it is often debated on this site, but it is interesting how prospects are evaluated in $ terms (cost to draft/teach/lose them vs. the major league salaries they replace/earn).

    Not sure where to post this but I will keep on the Pence trade threads.
    One other curiosity question concerning Brown’s service time. I tried to research the comments on Brown’s service time back in May. 68 days in 2010. 33 days estimated until May2 = 101 days. Recalled May20. Sent down Jun 30? 71 days? Does that put him at the exact time of one full service year?

    I think Phillies will recall him in Sept so he will acquire more days but the ‘cheap’ play if he is a day short and the Phillies pickup another bench PH bat would be to keep him off the regular season roster. Do playoff days count?

  72. Agree that Francisco’s days in Philly are numbered. Mayberry has shown that he has greater versatility…able to play a good 1st base and a good center field. Francisco won’t be with the Phils in ’12, and I wonder whether he’d be gone within the remainder of this season. Right now he is the forgotten man of the 25. A shame that he couldn’t get it all together with the opportunity offered him this season.

    Pence now and for at least the next two years…and possible re-signed before his free agency. Francisco was a throw-in when we got him and never was able to show that he deserved a more permanent place in the lineup. Right now he is a fringy MLB player. Probably not offered another contract for ’12.

    Another consideration is that no free agent needs to be pursued in the off-season and thus no loss of our first round draft choice in ’12 which should be welcome news to the prospect followers at this site. Makes the Phils serious hunters in the ’12 draft even though we’d choose late in the first round…like when we picked Biddle.

    Note: as for the lack of Singleton’s talents at 1st base post-Howard, look for to-be-signed #1 choice this season: Green will be assigned 1st base and OF which should bring lefty power to the lineup when Howard’s contract runs out. Green has power potential superior to Singleton’s even if Singleton improves his in the next two years.

    Just don’t lose Rupp who is honored for his good defensive skills and has improved as a hitter this season and looks like he could be a competitor for the catcher position in 2-3 seasons in addition to Valle.

  73. For me determining whether the Phillies benefit from this trade will be simple: the Phillies benefit if and only if they win a World Series with Pence.

      1. No, its not fair since there’s no evidence they were going to win a WS without him either. The Pence deal makes the team better but the Phillies winning a WS title does not hinge on the effectiveness of one trade.

        Way to simplistic view.

        1. I never claimed the Phillies’ championship chances hinged on one trade. I’m saying if the Phillies win a title with Pence, I’m fine with this trade even if each of Singleton and Cosart pans out to his full potential. If they don’t, the trade was a waste.
          Essentially, I was not saying the Phillies winning a title hinges on the effectiveness of the trade, but rather that the effectiveness of the trade hinges on the Phillies winning a title with Pence.
          Really, if they don’t win a series with Pence, the trade probably moves them from playoff team without a title to better playoff team without a title. No real benefit. If they win a title, maybe they could’ve done it without him anyway, but they’ve won a title and all trade-related sins to get there are absolved.

          1. Still too simplistic. If Pence replaces Ibanez in the Phillies line-up the next 2 seasons and helps the team remain a playoff caliber team while the guys traded have only marginal success then the trade was definately a benefit, regardless of whether or not they win a title as a result

            Based on your argument, the Halladay and Lee trades (the 1st one) have also been a failure since the team didn’t win a WS since those guys were acquired while getting Scotte Eyre in 2008 was one of the greatest deals in Phillies team history.

            Also based on you logic, the Sandberg deal long cited as a collossal failure for the Phillies really was a wash since the Cubs never won a WS with Sandberg anyway. And the deal is only good for the Astros if Singleton, Cosart, etal win a WS with Houston, otherwise its a push.

          2. Similar to all the moves the Braves use to make in the 90s by trading their young prospects, but win only one championship with a dozen or so division titles.

            1. Difference with the Braves is that their payroll structure collapsed when Turner sold the Braves as part of the TBS/Time Merger. Prior to that, the Braves generally had one of the higher payrolls in baseball, afterwards the Braves fell into the middle of the pack.

  74. I am sorta glad it is over. The only thing that has bugged me is the fact that NOT ONE of the reporters on any media has stated that Pence is in one of the worse slumps I have ever seen a elite player suffer through. Not that I think it is a long term problem but cheese do any of these reported EXPERTS do any research.

    1. Am I missing something..checked his numbers and he is batting .282 in July….or was that sarcasm you were using?

      1. Recheck your self he had a great first week of July then a black hole. Visit game log on espn for one. On July 6 he was hitting 331 and his power number were nonexistent since then.
        I did make a mistake it was his OPS that drop 50 points and only 24 points of the batting average
        One RBI a week is a slump. I am sure he will turn it around. not balanced reporting

  75. The centerpiece of the trade was Singleton. He has a great deal of talent and is a very accomplished hitter for his age. However, realistically, where would he play for the Phillies? First base is Howard and left field will be Brown. So, trading him actually makes sense. I noticed tonight how well Pence balances the lineup. It is mostly alternating left and right now, no string of left-handed hitters in a row except for Utley and Howard. I think that this will help a lot in important games.

    1. Well, let’s see: A lot of the Philly folks are unhappy and a lot of the Houston folks are unhappy. It must be a fair trade.

  76. I wonder if Ruben Amaro JR has considered a three swap for travis and chase D’Arnaud involving Tyson Gillies/Phillippe Aumont and retaining the rendered services of Dominic “Brownie” Brown, Brody Colvin, Domingo Santana, Trevor May, Justin De Fratus, Jiwan James, Sebastian Valle, Toronto would very like to have the services of Gillies and Aumont.

  77. Last word on the trade this: opportunity cost. I hesitate to make “they could have made a better deal” arguments for obvious reasons, but in this case they overapid so much I can’t believe that they couldn’t have done better than Pence for the same players elsewhere, if not now, then off season.

    But it’s done, so no point going on further about it. But what Isn’t done is the decision to sit Brown instead of Ibanez. The Pence deal, as much as I hate it, could work out, and has an “apples and oranges” aspect to it that makes impossible to evaluate fuly. Moreover, as with most deals we won’t know for sure how it worked out for years.

    But Ibanez and Brown is easy to evaluate – Brown is a better hitter and better fielder than Ibanez. They could have gained 2 to 2 1/2 wins from this deal, instead they are throwing one of those wins away (the difference IMO between Brown and Ibanez over 1/3 of a season).

    1. LarryM………come out of the sun, mt man. In the final two months plus, of a pennant race and the playoffs looming you would put a rookie like Brown, though talented, into the fire as opposed to a vet like Inanez? Your point would have more credence in April and May versus August and September. And Domo a better fielder!—maybe next year—but not what I have seen lately—–but as you say, that is just a ‘small sampling’—so I could be in err.

      1. Brown is bad, Ibanez is worse. Brown makes more obvious mistakes, but is fast & has range. Ibanez has no range and is arguably the worst defensive out fielder in the league.

        I just don’t buy the “rookies in pennant races” argument.

    2. it looks like Ibanez is hot again and when he is hot, he can carry a team on his back for a few weeks. In addition, I don’t see how you can calculate any difference in wins between Brown and Ibanez, given the small sample size on Brown. Anyway, Brown is not sitting, he is playing in AAA, where he can work on his defensive shortcomings. I think that most people realize that Brown’s fielding is not yet good enough for a contender to play him regularly in the field. Hopefully, he will be ready by next season.

      As far as calling RA the worst GM and calling for his firing; both of those statements are
      pure rubbish and hopefully you have retracted them by now.

      1. Sample size on Brown arguably is an argument in my favor – he was projected, for good reason, to be better. I’m making the conservative assumption that he continues to struggle (and that Ibanez, streakiness aside, is overall as bad as he has been this season). Of course it’s just an estimate – but that works both ways, Brown could have an even bigger edge.

        Sorry, reasonable minds can differ about the Pence trade, and Brown has his defensive limitations and has struggled some offensively, but Ibanez at this stage of his career does not belong on a major league roster, despite recent performance.

        Amaro has as I said strengths & weaknesses. Bad contracts, bad talent evaluation of hitters (that’s IMO what’s going on with Pence – seduced by the RBIs and BABIP inflated BA, ignores lack of BB). Over the long haul, I’m convinced he is on net bad for this franchise, put it that way. I was a defender of his but there’s just too much on the negative side now. They hopefully have enough advantages to overcome that handicap.

        1. Since May 1st Ibanez’s OPS is .806 which puts him just outside of the top-10 for ML left-fielders. To say he doesn’t belong on a major league roster is more hyperbole. Based on has career OPS of .817 he’s been having a normal career season. Also, seeing as your a big BABIP guy, you should be making the case that Ibanez has actually been a bit unlucky since his .281 BABIP during that period is significantly below his career .304 number.

          Ibanez had a terrible April but since then, he’s been exactly what he’s always been, a steady run producer who’s a sub-par defensive player. He’s been better than Dom Brown this year and way better than your early season guy who was being undervalued, Ben Francisco.

          1. His defense has gone from bad to horrible. As for hitting, his ability to get on base has gone from bad to horrible.

            You can’t just throw April out the window. His overall hitting performance is below average for a major league player, well below average for a left fielder. Overall OPS is only .727, and that overstates his performance as OPS undervalues OBP. His OBP is under .300!!!! For a regular outfielder, that is unacceptable. I realize that there is a segement of the readership here who thinks that it is unmanly to take a BB and that BB have, if anything, negative value, but I didn’t think you were among those people.

            I’m a BABIP guy, but .281 is not that far below his career mark – this isn’t the extreme kind of disparity I usually focus on – and the small disparity can likely be explained by his reduced bat speed. Notably in that regard, his LD% is down as well.

            I’ve said from the start that Francisco was mistcast as a starter. My two points from earlier in the season remain true: (1) he is a very solid reserve, and (2) while miscast as a starter, he is better than Ibanez.

            Look, Amaro does have his strengths, but it’s becoming increasingly clear in terms of the kind of hitters that he has added to the team (Polanco, Ibanez, Pence primarily, but also some backups) that he massively undervalues BB. The Phillies as a team still take a decent number of BB, but only because of players already on the team when Amaro took over.

            1. Yes I can throw April out the window since your point is that Brown(and apparently Francisco?) should be playing ahead of Ibanez in August. Compared over the same period of time, Ibanez’s offensive performance has been significantly better than both Brown and Francisco and defensively Brown is not an improvement regardless of his better speed because of his poor ball flight recognition.

              In the end it doesn’t matter since Ibanez will be gone in 2012 and Brown will take his spot anyway so Brown’s improved walk rate will be added to the roster.

            2. “Yes I can throw April out the window since your point is that Brown(and apparently Francisco?) should be playing ahead of Ibanez in August.”

              You are, of course, aware that that makes no sense at all? In projecting August performance, April is as relevant as May, June and July.

              Defensively you’re just wrong. I’m not saying Brown is good defensively, he isn’t at this point … Francisco, reputation aside, actually is kind of good or at least okay. But Ibanez is historically inept. Brown isn’t a lot better defensively, but he is better. Francisco, despite being only average defensively, is a LOT better defensively than Ibanez.

              As for not mattering because of next year, I’m done talking about the merits of the Pence deal. My point is that for THIS year, the decision to send Brown down instead of replacing Ibanez is a bad decision. Next year is irrelevant to that argument.

            3. Larry, should we judge Pujol’s performance based on April or what’s he’s doing now? Its meaningless what Ibanez did in April since we are talking about who’s playing better today, Brown or Ibanez.

              The simple answer is Ibanez…

  78. ptbnl is anyone on lakewoods roster not named biddle. they almost certenly take santana if its a pos player or bonilla or manzanillo if its a pitcher.inside info

  79. Another angle the Braves got Bourne who Larry and I thought was a better player and they got him relatively cheap. For better or worse we could of blocked that trade.

    1. That’s a weird way to look at it. Then the Braves would have just gotten Pense. I don’t get the point. People will neve be happy no matter what is done. If the Phils did nothing and lost the same people who hate this trade would be saying we should have done something.

      1. Looking at the past 3 years, using WAR, Bourn is a lot better: 13.3 verus 10.0 WAR (per Fangraphs). Now, WAR isn’t gospel, but (1) that’s a pretty significant difference, and (2) IMO WAR is pretty kind to Pence.

        Pence has more power. Bourn plays a tougher defensive position, has a small defensive edge on top of that, and is faster & a better base runner. Speed has been undervalued in evaluating players. That was a weakness of analytical metrics; ironically it has become a strength. More sophisticated baserunning metrics have made people realize just how valuable a fast player with good baserunning instincts can be.

        At best (from the Pence camp perspective) they are roughly equal, yet Bourn was less expensive (in terms of prospects and salary).

        Oh but I forgot. Pence has True Grit. The grittiness factor must be worth at least a grittty win per year, putting him ahead of Bourn. Sigh.

        But as I said, I’m not one to beat a dead horse; the deal is done. Just wanted to clarify my thinking on the Bourn comparison.

        1. looking at the last 5 years, Pence’s war is much better 17.3 vs. 14.7. But even if the argument is that they are equal players, the Phillies didn’t need a left-handed lead-off hitter, they needed a right-handed run producer.

          As to the other points, the Phillies are paying less for Pence in 2011 than the Brave are for Bourne based on the money received back from Houston. Both are arbitration eligible in 2012 where I expect that Pence will get more money but the $$ amounts are not extremely different.

  80. I’m surprised no one has talked about this yet, but did the Phillies give up more for Pence than the Indians did for Ubaldo?

    Seems like Pomeranz and White are around the same spots in prospect rankings as Cosart and Singleton, plus when you consider that pitchers are usually less sure things than hitters, it looks like we gave up more. Plus plus, the other two indians prospects look like quad-A guys, and the other player we’re giving from Lakewood, if you believe the ‘inside info’ guy a couple posts above, could be a real prospect. Ubaldo is even cheaper than Pence and is signed for longer.

    1. Have you seen Ubaldo pitch since the middle of last season? His velocity is down and the results have shown it.

      1. I’m aware, but even with his fastball “only” averaging around 94 I think he’s got the ability to be an ace. A true ace. Which is more valuable than what we’re getting in Pence. I guess if that’s the difference betweeen a guy having a down year and a guy having a hot year, then so be it. But if you’re building a team, who would you rather take?

        1. I agree he has the ability to be a true ace but there’s a big difference between ability and performance. I think Cleveland made a smart move in making the deal because of that potential but he’s just as likely to continue putting up the terrible #’s he has in 2011.

          Biggest advantage for Cleveland is that he has a very team friendly contract through 2014 and could become a very cheap Ace if his performance turns around.

          My concern from the Colorado end is that they seemed very willing to give up a potential ACE with a good contract. Makes we wonder what they know?

          1. From the comments I’ve read, Colorado doesn’t think hes an ace.

            The issue is, the centerpiece of the deal, Pomeranz, is a flyball pitcher with 2 pitches, and I think he could be a bad fit in that park. Alex White is a reliever for me, and doesn’t have the arsenal to be a middle of the rotation guy. Gardner and McBride are throw-ins. Jimenez’s contract makes him a bargain even if he performs like a solid #3 instead of a true ace.

            1. So, then the argument could be made that the Phils gave up more than the Indians in their respective deals? That’s what I’m really curious to know since I don’t follow other teams prospects as closely as the Phillies’. I guess if Colorado doesn’t think they’re giving up an ace, that would explain it in some way at least.

              In light of the Jimenez and Bourn trades, it makes me think that Ruben overpaid for Pence. Although maybe it will turn out to be worth it and I’m sure Pence makes us better right now.

            2. They could always flip Pomeranz at some point.

              On Jimenez: He’s had control problems his entire career and he got by on having ridiculous stuff. His fastball isn’t what it was so he’s much more hittable now. The Rockies were probably smart to dump him when he still had a TON of value.

              Of course, he could regain his fastball and be a true Ace for the next 5 years so who knows.

      1. No, I’m saying that an ace is a more valuable commodity- in general- than an above average outfielder. Not to the Phillies, but to pretty much anyone else.

  81. I am overall pleased with the trade for Pence as he brings both a solid right hand bat to the team to protect Howard and is better defensively in right field where Brown has struggled at times. As others have commented, the outfield is now set for next year so the Phillies can concentrate on either re-signing Rollins or finding a suitable replacement if they do not re-sign him in the offseason.
    It is interesting to me that Atlanta seems (at this time) to have made an even better trade for Bourn giving up far less than we did to acquire him. Bourn fits their team needs very well and gives them a presence on the basepaths that they haven’t had. It should be an interesting finish!

  82. Just a few notes.

    * Bourn’s WAR is driven in large part by his defense. He draws some walks, but his OB% is driven largely by his ability to hit for average, and his .381 BABIP this year is a career high, up from his .340 career average. Bourn will still be valuable in ATL, because they have a large park and a large CF. His value here would be greatly reduced, because CBP’s outfield is very small. He wouldn’t have moved Victorino to a corner (even if you think he should have), and his defense in RF would have been really wasted.

    * On the other side, the Phillies lacked a righthanded hitter who could drive the ball. Pence has always done that. As I mentioned in my original analysis, Pence’s HR are down this year, but his doubles are up, and at this point he could finish the season with close to 40 doubles and about 17 or 18 HR. Next year, that could be 25 HR and 25 doubles. Pence is a good defender in RF, despite looking like he might fall down at least once a game, and he has a very strong and accurate arm.

    * You can argue who is more valuable based on WAR, but that doesn’t tell you the context of their new team’s needs. The Braves needed a CF because all of their options sucked. For them, Bourn is a good fit. The Phillies needed a corner OF, and for that, Pence was a better fit.

    * This is just as much about 2012 as it is 2011, because the Phillies were going to the playoffs, barring a disaster, even without Pence. The free agent outfield market is going to be pretty rough this winter outside of Beltran, who is a lot older and more injury prone than Pence. So the Phillies essentially did their free agent shopping now.

    * Trading great prospects for rentals is almost always a bad idea. The Phillies didn’t trade for a rental. If they are able to get Pence tied down to a 4 or 5 year deal at good rates, which I’m sure they’ll try to do, they will extract quite a bit of value, yes, value, from this deal in that regard. Pence is under control for 1 more year than Bourn, which also added to his value.

    * The trade is over. No one knows who the winner will be. Cosart’s arm action and mechanics have drawn plenty of criticisms. I’ve had more than one person who I trust express concern to me about him breaking down, and he already has an injury record since entering pro ball. Every pitching prospect, even the 100% healthy ones with very “clean” mechanics are injury risks. The guys with a history of arm injuries and stressful mechanics are ticking bombs. Maybe the bomb never explodes, or maybe it happens tomorrow. Its the great uncertainty. Singleton is more of a certainty, but even he is super risky.

    Look no further than Astros 1B prospect Brett Wallace. When he was drafted, everyone loved his “pure” hitting ability, and people called him the best pure hitter in his draft. There was no question he was going to hit. He was a lock to hit .300 with tons of doubles. Then he got traded 3 times. He’s hit just .254/.329/.358 in 517 MLB PA. He’s young enough to turn things around, but he’s now back in the minors.

    There are no sure thing prospects. Things happen. Guys who look set for stardom hit developmental walls. They get injured. They get hooked on drugs. They get busted for PEDs. Stuff happens. The Phillies got the 1 sure thing in the deal. The Astros got 3 (and it will be 4) maybes. The Astros may end up reaping huge rewards. Or they may end up with nothing. That’s how trades work.

    This trade did not carpet bomb the Phillies system. Hardly. They traded 2 of the big 6, protected their most valuable young player (Brown), their most MLB ready young pitcher (Worley), and their young relievers (Schwimer, Aumont, and De Fratus). When Greene, Quinn, and other sign, they will replenish the prospects lost.

    Cosart, Singleton and Zeid all seem like great dudes. I wish them luck in Houston. I wish all players good luck. In 5 or 10 years, we can come back and do the accounting on the deal and see how it turned out. But time marches on, a new wave of prospects emerge, and baseball moves forward. This wasn’t some kind of franchise crippling deal, and to paint it as some type of potential disaster, one the GM should be fired for, is beyond shortsighted. Amaro has taken a great team he inherited and made it better by acquiring Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee (twice), Roy Oswalt, and Hunter Pence. And next year, it will be someone else. He’s done all of this while IMPROVING the ranking of the farm system. It will take a small hit this winter. And it will likely rebound as 2 prospects step forward, 2 guys who people aren’t really raving about now, just as they weren’t raving about Singleton in 2009.

    /end rant.

    1. Exactly and God bless.

      Here’s the other thing people are not talking about. This move fits with the team’s salary and drafting strategy. One way or another, the team was going to have to acquire a corner outfielder, either at the trade deadline or over the winter. A good player was going to cost them a draft pick. By acquiring Pence, that draft pick is preserved.

      Second, the Pence deal, as structured, is a salary strategem. By not trading Worley, the team can now probably afford to let Oswalt and the $16 million salary walk at the deadline. By not trading Brown, the team has a cheap left fielder for next year and many years thereafter. By acquiring Pence, the team has significant salary predictability and likely salary reasonablenss over the next 2-3 years in right field. So, if this winter, the team signs Rollins and/or Madson, you can thank Ruben Amaro and this trade for providing salary relief at other positions and thereby permit those expenditures.

      Amaro can be nearly a zealot when he fixates on a player and, in so doing, he probably gives away too much value, but he is not a dummy and he has produced what is most likely the best Phillies team ever while maintaining a very strong farm system.

      Let the juggernaut continue.

      1. Sorry, I need to use a spell check program – that would be “stratagem” and “reasonableness” – but you know where I am going with this.

      2. Pence isn’t really salary relief. He’s going to get about $10m next year and probably a little more than that the next year in arbitration. There’s no way he signs a long term deal for less than $12-13M/yr, and at that price he’s not a bargain. It’s salary predictability, I guess, but for $13M/yr you can ‘predict’ that a pretty good player will come play for you.

        1. I doubt he’s going to get that money, particularly in year one of the contract. I’ll bet money that he “out WARS” the contract money because I’m not entirely sure that he is done improving as a player (unlike Ibanez, who did nothing but decline, given his age). In any event, my other points still stand, even if what you say is true – salary relief elsewhere and the preservation of a first round draft pick.

          It also should not go without saying that he is the perfect fit for the team chemistry. My views on this have come full circle over the last 25 years or so (God I’m getting old). With the advent of the Bill James era, people looked away from chemistry and things of that nature. But all you needed to do to understand how important that continues to be is watch 162 games with Bobby Abreu as your right-fielder or watch what happens to a team when it knows that it’s closer is either dominant or crappy. To be sure, chemistry does not eclipse statistical value, but I think it’s very important. More than anything, I think it results in players playing at the peak of their ability. Do you think it’s a coincidence that Charlie Manuel’s teams surge every year? I am telling you that it is not a coincidence or luck. It is the product and residue of a team built on cooperation and selflessness. It may not make a difference when that spirit extends only to a few players, but where 25 players take that approach, the cumulative effect is noticeable.

    2. I said I am done with Pence, so I’m not going to engage you on the specifics. On a more general note, I think it’s possible to (a) acknowledge that the Pence trade fits the Phillies general strategy/perception of their needs, and (b) acknowledge that the strategy has (until now) served them pretty well, and STILL think it’s a bad move, because Pence is ordinary & costly (in prospects, and to a lesser extent in likely salary going forward). That is, your rant doesn’t address several of my specific objections to the deal.

      Again trying to avoid the specifics of THIS deal, IMO the trend of the Amaro era, in my mind, is, on the one hand, solid talent evaluation when it comes to pitchers, along with suspect talent evaluation of hitters.

      And I never said it was a disaster – just a really bad deal. I’ve even agreed that it makes the team a little better this year. Just IMO at an unreasonable cost, and (likely – obviously we don’t know for sure), they could have improved the team as much at a lower cost.

      1. You should get in to the specifics, because I’d like you to refute the arguments I just made. Again, Pence is not “ordinary”, he as a 130 OPS+. That’s the highest mark of his career. This season, Ryan Howard has a 124 OPS+. Only Victorino (146) and Utley (138) have a better OPS+ than Pence.

        And how can you say the cost is unreasonable before you even see the two prospects make it to AA, especially given Cosart’s injury history?

        And how do you know the team could have been improved at a lower cost? How do you know what the cost was for Player X, who you think was a better fit?

        1. PP, when you get in this mode it just isn’t any fun to debate with you – partly because I don’t have all day to go back and forth with you, partly because once you dig into a position nothing can sway you, partly because, ironically enough given how much I hate this trade, you obviously are much more highly invested in being right on this than I am.

          But if you want me to encapsulate the wrongness of your position, your statement that “Again, Pence is not “ordinary”, he as a 130 OPS+” is pretty much self refuting. You of all people should know that basing an argument on 2/3 of a season of data – especially BABIP data – is a mistake. His career OPS+ is 117: for a RF, ordinary. And again if you want to play that 2/3 season game, you also need to acknowledge that metrics of his defensive performance this season show him below average. You can’t legitimately rely on the in season data for hitting and multi-season data for fielding. That’s pretty obviously cherry picking/special pleading. (For the record, I accept the multi season data which shows him, using all of the different fielding metrics available, as a little above average as a fielder.)

          As for “And how can you say the cost is “likely unreasonable” before you even see the two prospects make it to AA, especially given Cosart’s injury history?”, you can use that argument to justify literally any trade of prospects, no matter how unequal. That fact should make it self evident that it is a bad argument. Neither one of us “know” what the long term results of the trade will be. Both of us make predictions, given the available evidence. Your position seems to be that you get to make predictions (and detractors of the trade don’t) because major league players are more of a known quantity than minor league players. Stated that way – and I think that’s a fair statement of your position – that’s absurd on its face. Again, that logic could be used to justify literally any trade of prospects for a major league regular.

          More specifically, Cosart of course is high risk, as I’ve acknowledged. He also has top of the rotation upside. But as I said before the deal, I would (reluctantly) agree to have him headline a Pence trade despite my reservations about Pence. But Singleton? The risk on him is much lower and the upside is about as high.

          Overall, you look like someone using every argument to justify a trade, even arguments that in normal times you yourself would realize are flawed. You’re doing exactly what you accused me of doing – letting your passion for the issue get in the way of logic. Your original post was better – still IMO wrong, but at least sticking to reasonable arguments.

      2. I think that when you suggest that the GM needs to be fired immediately, which you did, you are probably characterizing the transaction as a disaster.

        1. My argument about Amaro wasn’t just based on this trade. While defending him in the past, I’ve been concerned about a number of deficiencies on his part. The fact that this was the “straw that broke the camel’s back” in some respects doesn’t mean it was the only factor. Bad contracts, bad talent evaluation of hitters, over fondness for older players, don’t outweigh generally good talent evaluation of pitchers (admittedly a strength) and willingness to pull the trigger on big deals (a strength sometimes but also sometimes a weakness, and of course facilitated by the organizations’ deep pockets, which Amaro gets no credit for).

          But diagree with me if you will on Amaro – still calling for him to be fired does.not imply that THIS transaction was an organization destroying disaster. Which I never said or implied.

          Oh, and chemistry. I roll my eyes. In some more team oriented sports, maybe. In baseball, setting aside a few players who provide obvious and extreme negative chemistry, it’s IMO non-factor. No, I overstate. The Phillies probably benefit from their current mix of players/clubhouse to a limited extent. But the difference between adding a “gritty” guy like Pence to that clubhouse, as opposed to leaving it alone or adding a guy like Bourn, whose attitude I’ve never heard anything negative about – nope, not a factor. At all.

          1. Bad contracts? I’ve loved what Amaro has managed to do with resigning/signing guys. The only contract you can say has really not panned out so far was the Blanton contract and at the time it was a completely reasonable(and most importantly, eatable) 8/year x3. That’s a great contract for a number 4 pitcher. He’s been hurt. Other than that, what contracts are there to complain about?

            Blanton? 3 years at 24 million per is a fine contract.

            Polanco? 3 years at 18 million is a very good contract

            Ibanez? 3 years at 30 million? Ok…this one is debatable but he’s probably been worth this contract or at least close to being worth this contract.

            Ruiz/Madson/Victorino? All huge wins.

            So what do you have left? Baez? Gload? If all we have to complain about is the Danyz Baez signing then the GM is doing a great job with contracts.

            1. Polanco should not have been for three years. Not a horrible contract but not a good one.

              Blanton’s contract never looked “great.” It looked okay at the time and I said as much but not great. Certainly it hasn’t worked out well.

              Ibanez was not debatable, it was bad. Arguably his fine first season prevented it from being horrible as opposed to merely bad. But you can’t legitimately judge the Ibanez contract on results (slightly better than expected) while judging the Blanton contract on expectations at the time of signing.

              But the elephant in the room is the Howard contract. Now I know I’m violating the apparent rule that only some people on the site are allowed to predict future performance, but it’s a horrible contract. An optimistic evaluation of his performance going forward would mean that the contract will “only” overpay him by 50 million or so. If his apparent decline this year and last year (and yes, I am aware he has been better lately & has a history of good performance in August % September, so I am not necessarily predicting this) is real, then he could be overpaid by 100 million. Even a high salary team like the Phillies can’t afford that kind of contract.

              The other 3 contracts were good (or good so far); huge wins is saying too much.

              Moreover, the common thread as I said elsewhere is overvaluing RBI, undervaluing BB, and overvaluing older players. That is a disturbing trend going forward.

    3. James, I agree with most of your rant but Bourn is a much better defensive CF than Vic…and both are GG level defenders so its not an insult to Shane at all.

  83. This is just your assumption.

    He made $6.9M this year, but that was an arbitration award, not a negotiated amount. The Phillies do not like going to the actual arbitration hearing, and I think they will do everything they can to get a long term deal worked out that favors both parties. There were also reports that money isn’t his prime objective, and while you can write that off a meaningless cliche, lots of ballplayers will take a reasonable amount of money if they think you are being fair with them.

    My prediction is that Pence signs a 4 or 5 year deal, with an AAV of $11-12M per year, back loaded to help the Phillies a bit with salary in 2012. Something like this

    2012: $9M
    2013: $11M
    2014: $13M
    2015: $13M
    2016: $14M

    The Phillies have done this a bit with previous deals, and I expect them to continue doing it. As salaries go up, players come off the books and some of the “hit” is absorbed. Also, the Phillies revenues have continued to increase, and the payroll has continued to increase. It won’t go on forever, but backloading at this time makes sense. Getting him for $9M in 2012 in the above scenario allows them to use some of that money on other needs. In 2016, when he’s making $14M, the team’s payroll could well be over $200M.

    1. Does money now going to Pence stop the money that could have went to Rollins? Hamels resigns and maybe Madson.

      1-Victorino 2-Polanco 3-Utley 4-Howard 5-Pence 6-Brown 7- Ruiz 8-short Stop???

      1. I think they’ll have plenty of money. Some players are due big raises, but they will rid themselves of Ibanez ($11M), Lidge ($12M) and probably Oswalt ($16M), which means they have some room. Brown will take Ibanez’s spot at $450K. I do think they should let Madson walk and go with Bastardo as the closer, assuming he is healthy. They can save themselves potentially $8M+ by doing that.

        Which means they’ll have money to re-sign Rollins (or pick up a big time SS by trade) and also sign Hamels to an extension, which I’m sure is even higher on the agenda.

        1. I dont see them handing over the Closer responsibilities to Bastardo like that. I agree that they likely could but I doubt Rube would allow for that type of question mark going into the season…especially with Bastardo’s injury history.

        2. If they let Madson walk they can resign Rollins. Probably as you seem to acknowledge not both.

          Look, I don’t see the salary next year as a signficant argument against the deal. It just negates his value next year to some extent given that he will be no bargain and the resources used could have gone elsewhere. I just don’t get the idea that Pence’s presence next year is a significant argument in favor of the deal. I understand the strategy involved, but my point (which you haven’t adequately addressed) is that getting a solid regular – not a star – at roughly a fair value – maybe a slight bargain – is not worth 2 top prospects. Well, you did sort of respond to this – by yet again talking about the risk factors involved in prospects. But that’s not even an argument, let alone a good one. You trade 2 top 30 prospects in baseball (or 50, Klaw says top 30 as I recall), you should get substantial value. Pence 2010 + Pence 2011-12 (probably at a near market salary) IMO isn’t worth that. I may be wrong, but saying “you don’t know how good Cosart and Singleton will be” isn’t even a counterargument, let alone a good one.

    2. $10M this year, $13M next year are the expected arbitration numbers that had been thrown around by Jayson Stark, etc. when they were discussing the possibility of the trade happening. His average is largely BABIP fueled (he’s hitting .333 on grounders this year) but hitting .300 will still look good for him if they do go to arbitration. He may sign a backloaded contract which makes him underpaid the first couple years but he would be yet another 30-something making more than he’s worth in 2015.

      The trade makes the Phillies a little better this year, though not as much as if they’d gotten Raul out of there his big day yesterday notwithstanding. But it doesn’t seem to me like there’s any added value after 2012 and compared to what the Braves gave up for Bourn two top prospects is a pretty big price.

      1. The point was, it probably won’t get to arbitration, and if it did go to arbitration, he’d be looking at $10M and $13M in 2012 and 2013. I expect the Phillies will try and pay him less but give him more long term security.

    3. At some point, the revenue stream will max itself out. You can only sell so many tickets and raise the price so much. Barring a new TV deal and/or their own network, the Phillies probably cannot support a payroll that high.

      1. The Phillies do not have their own sports network right now, which limits their revenue to a big degree. When their Comcast deal is winding down, I expect they will use the threat of their own network as a major leverage chip, especially after the TV deal the Rangers just signed.

        And I would guess that if all season ticket prices were raised a flat 20% across the board, for every 1 person who cancelled, 3 more people would jump to take their spot. A ticket to a Phillies home game is the hottest ticket in baseball at this point. And as the Phillies continue to grow their “brand”, as I mentioned above, I think you will see them increase merchandising revenue even more.

        One thing that I’m surprised MLB teams don’t do, which I think they should, is a “pre-season tour” that a lot of the biggest football teams in Europe do every year. These teams generally go to a foreign country, sometimes the US, sometimes somewhere in Asia, and they hold open training sessions where fans can watch them practice, then they play a game or two against a local team or an all-star team of players from the region. The Phillies could do this, theoretically, if they started ST just a few weeks earlier. I’m sure there is language about this in the CBA that prevents them from doing it, but if MLB was serious about growing the game globally, they’d be all in favor of allowing teams to do it.

        1. Doesnt all MLB merchandizing revenue go into one big pot for all 30 clubs equally?

          I thought I read that somewhere at some point. I agree on the new TV deal (in 2015 I think) and on ticket prices. Of course, on ticket prices, there is a limit on how much they can raise them as they already have pretty high tickets compared to most other clubs (excluding NY & BOS clubs).

          As for the pre-season thing…the Phillies (and other clubs) make a TON of money on ST games these days. Those tickets aren’t nearly as cheap as they used to be. Its one of those hidden revenue streams that no one thinks about.

          1. I believe the merchandising rule covers all merchandise sold at the park and online. But I believe they could open up satellite stores wherever they wanted, and the merchandise sold at those stores, if the team runs them, is theirs. But I’m not 100% sure on this.

            1. I thought it was all MLB licensed merchandize regardless of whether it was bought at Modells or CBP.

              However, I will freely admit I dont know for sure. It’d be very cool if it wasn’t as I’m sure we sell a ton more merchandise than most other clubs outside of NY & BOS. I was absolutely shocked at how many Phillies hats I saw during my recent vacation up in Bar Harbor. Mine was one of the very very few that looked old and beat up…tons of brand new bright shiny red hats being worn. I see a ton of them up in VT now too which even 4 years ago was unheard of.

              The Phillies have a very impressive fanbase now.

              Overall, I think the Phillies have no issues maintaining their payroll at the $170 million mark for the forseeable future (adjusting for inflation obviously) and that should easily guaranteed continued competiveness regardless of us having $80-100+ million locked up in big deals.

    4. Here’s the thing PP – you may be right. I think you are optimistic, and honestly even if not I’m kind of meh about Pence as a long term answer in RF, but we’re both doing the same thing – making predictions of future performance and salary. The fact that, with regard to performance anyway, you’re dealing with smaller error bands, does not allow you to simultaneously make these kind of predictions while dismissing my arguments with a “how can you know how Cosart and Singleton will do” statement.

      1. Not to put too fine a point on it, I made some specific value estimates a couple days ago. They may be wrong. But it’s not enough to just say, “oh, you can’t KNOW how good Singleton and Cosart will be.” Argue that I underestimated Pence’s value (tough to do since despite my reservations about him I made a pretty generous estimate), disagree about my valuations of the prospects (possible, though I tried to be conservative), or argue that the certainty involved in having Pence is worth giving up much more expected value than you are getting (arguable). But simply talking about what a good fit Pence is (I don’t entirely agree, but I see your point) and repeating just how unpredictable high A prospects are (again much more true of Cosart than of Singleton) is non-responsive.

        1. Its tough for me to rationally argue with you because you’ve discounted a number of the key points here. Firstly, the Phillies are a risk averse organization, and under Amaro that’s been highlighted. He didn’t risk offering Burrell arbitration when most people (myself included) thought he should. They are cautious in the draft and Latin America in terms of the amount of money they are willing to spend. So far so good. The Pence acquisition is the latest move along these lines. You are intimating he’s not very good. What you fail to acknowledge is that his production this year, when you consider league averages, is well above average. A 130 OPS+ signifies 30% above average. He’s not a star. But there is ZERO indication that any star outfielders were available. And there will be zero star outfielders available this winter, when the Phillies would have had a sizable hole to fill in their outfield. Could they have traded for Pence then? Maybe. Could they have traded for someone else? Maybe. Again, risk averse. The Phillies made the trade now, not this winter when they may have had more competition for his services. Now the Phillies don’t have to try and make a trade to fill a need this winter.

          Second, I believe we have a very different fundamental way of valuing prospects. As I’ve preached over and over, attrition rate of all prospects, especially pitchers, is very high. The odds of Jon Singleton, or any other prospect, becoming a superstar is very low. Hell, look at Domonic Brown. He was ranked the 3rd best prospect in baseball, and even his biggest supporters would say that he struggled at times in the big leagues, and beyond his numbers, he struggled defensively in RF and seemed to struggle maintaining a consistent batting stance/approach at the plate. No one is giving up on him. Well, at least most rational people aren’t giving up on him. But what he showed is how hard the game of baseball is. Jon Singleton isn’t rated even close to where Brown was as a prospect. He might get to that point in a year or two. Even if he does reach that level of prospect status, there is nothing to say that he’s a lock to become an above average regular. Hunter Pence is already an above average regular. The Phillies took the sure thing over three potential players.

          You’ll bring this back to cost, or the path the organization is on, or whatever else. I outlined all of that in my “The Phillies are a big market team” essay. Its highly unlikely that Jon Singleton would have cracked the Phillies starting lineup, especially with Ryan Howard here, for another 4-5 years. Over that time, his prospect value could have gone up or down. The Phillies, like other big market clubs (Boston, for one), are beginning to use their prospects as a means to acquire controllable, pre-free agency talent. These players are “sure things”, in that they have established MLB track records, something prospects don’t have. The Phillies may eventually trade a prospect who turns in to a star. It might be Travis D’Arnaud. Or Jon Singleton. Or Jarred Cosart. But what they are getting in return is helping the 2011 team, the 2012 team and the 2013 team. The next prospect they trade might help the 2012 team, the 2013 team, and the 2014 team.

          Ruben Amaro has gone on record saying he doesn’t like trading for rentals. A rental could really provide you only 2 months of production, after which you receive draft picks, if that part even remains in the new CBA. The Phillies are receiving long term value for the players they trade. This is a $175M payroll team built to win not just now, but for the next 5 years, and then the next 10 years. The names on the uniforms will change, but as I outlined before, unless people just stop going to games, the quality of the team won’t diminish. With a $175M payroll, you can afford to miss a few times and not even notice. Amaro has constructed a bunch of masterful deals to acquire some of the best pitchers in the game. And he’s added complimentary parts on offense, though Pence is more than a complementary hitter.

          If you don’t agree with this, that’s fine, but we’ll never likely agree on anything. I run a prospects website. I love the minor leagues. I love our prospects. But I fully understand how the game works, and that most prospects don’t make it, and even more prospects in huge market teams with huge payrolls don’t make it, because the team demands more of their 25 man roster. I hope Amaro continues to do what he’s been doing. Because its going to mean consistently awesome teams on the field for the foreseeable future. I just worry that a portion of the fanbase is going to miss out on the fun because they are going to spend all of their time looking for a banana peel on the road instead of just enjoying the ride.

          1. “spend all of their time looking for a banana peel on the road instead of just enjoying the ride”

            Ain’t that the truth.

          2. “they are going to spend all of their time looking for a banana peel on the road instead of just enjoying the ride.”

            Well done. Well done.

          3. PP,

            I think we’re kind of talking past each other. I suspect that we differ as to who is ignoring whom’s arguments.

            The Phillies are certainly a risk averse organization, and I see the value in that (though I can’t help pointing out that big contracts to veterans represent a sort of risk that they are very willing to take, sometimes not wisely). Any strategy though, taken too far, can lead to bad outcomes, and my point, distilled into one sentence, is that in THIS case they have taken risk aversion to an unwise extreme. And the fact that you keep saying “no, no, you don’t understand the strategy” isn’t responsive to that argument.

            Again, the arguments you are making could be deployed in exactly the same fashion to justify ANY trade of prospects for a major league regular. An argument that does that has to be wrong (not wrong in your conclusion, necessarily, but not a valid logical way to reach your conclusion). If your correct (again, your argument, not your conclusion), then there is NO trade of prospects that the Phillies could make that you would disapprove of, assuming that an above average major league regular was acquired in return.

            As for Pence’s value – the fact that you keep harping on his OPS this season, to the exclusion of almost everything else, would ordinarily lead me to believe that your argument was even worse than it in fact is. You’re a smart guy, and I know that you know better than that. There are arguments you can make on his behalf without hanging your hat on 2/3 of a season of BABIP inflated hitting data. I’ll tell you what, if I was a betting man I’d bet a heck of a lot of money that his OPS for the rest of the season is much closer to 117 than to 130+. And even more money that that is true over the length of the 2 1/3 years that the Phillies currently control him.

            If Pence REALLY was a 130+ OPS player (or, again, the far more accurate wRP+, but in Pence’s case it amounts to the same thing), then I’d be okay with the deal. But he’s not – and you know it.

            1. Yeah I guess we’re talking past each other. I appreciate the condescending “you should know better” too. And I agree with this statement

              then there is NO trade of prospects that the Phillies could make that you would disapprove of, assuming that an above average major league regular was acquired in return.

              I would ALWAYS take an above average MLB player over a prospect, short of that prospect being one of the two or three best prospects in baseball.

              If you look at Pence from 2008-2010, his production was incredibly consistent and valuable. You can pretend that players better than him are just floating around waiting to be plucked up. That’s not reality. I’m pointing out that this year, Pence is having the best year of his career. And yes, his BABIP is .370. But like I pointed out, BABIP doesn’t always regress in a single season. His career BABIP is .326, so you can posit that he can maintain an outlier BABIP season for an entire season. And if he ends up with a .330 BABIP next year and not a .370 BABIP, his batting average will drop a bit. But his power will still be valuable, and his defense will still be valuable.

              Also, you mentioned above that its wrong to look at 2/3 of a season for batting stats and not fielding stats, but most sabermetrics folks would disagree with you, as fielding stats in small samples, even 1 year samples, tend to have quite a bit of noise. Batting stats become statistically significant in much smaller samples.

              Its fine, you can move on from the argument. I think you’re wrong on this one, that’s all. Just as you told me the other day your side of the argument is correct and can’t be refuted. I’d never say that. I’ve certainly laid out my rationale. You disagree with my rationale, so of course you’ll tell me my methods are wrong.

            2. I’m going to give you the last word on the substance, as I’ve spent way too much time on this already, but this:

              “Its fine, you can move on from the argument. I think you’re wrong on this one, that’s all. Just as you told me the other day your side of the argument is correct and can’t be refuted. I’d never say that. I’ve certainly laid out my rationale. You disagree with my rationale, so of course you’ll tell me my methods are wrong.”

              No, actually I did not say or imply that my argument couldn’t be refuted. That was your really odd mis-characterization of my argument from a couple days ago, which I let slide at the time, because, oddly enough, as obsessive as I’ve been with this exchange even I don’t have the time to respond to every comment of yours. (I think it’s unlikely I’m wrong, obviously, or why would I hold this opinion? But of course my argument could be refuted, especially retrospectively. IMO It hasn’t been, and I think we can even agree that any final judgment, either way, won’t be possible for years.) But earlier you say:

              “I would ALWAYS take an above average MLB player over a prospect, short of that prospect being one of the two or three best prospects in baseball.”

              And that really leaves me at a loss for words. Always? Really? I can just barely see someone believing that about a single prospect (I don’t, at least not always), but apparently it applies to 2 prospects as well. Two top 50 in baseball prospects. What about 3? 4? Would it have been okay if they threw in May as well? Valle? Heck, none of the Phillies prospects are among the top 2 or 3 in baseball. I guess it would have been okay if they traded their entirely minor league system. And no, I don’t really believe that you think that, but the point is that there is a point when even non-top 2 or 3 prospects are too much for an above average major league player – of course – and your “argument” goes nowhere in terms of defining where that line is. Though I have to give you credit for following your argument to its logical conclusion.

              And I’M the one who is supposedly claiming that my argument can’t be refuted??!! Assuming you really believe of your statement immediately above, then it is you who is implicitly making that claim. Neither Singleton or Cosart is a top 2 or 3 prospect, Pence, while we disagree how much above average he is, is indeed an above average regular, so end of discussion, right? Can’t be refuted. Can that really be your position?

  84. Wow! PP I love when you take the time to refute arguments and positions you feel very strongly about. Your back and forth w/ Larry was one of the most interesting in a while and you stayed very civil and not condescending at all even while talking to the king. ….your better than that. Not many can go toe to toe w/ larry and come out victorious but you have proven the ability to do so.
    Thanks for such an awesome sight!

    1. LOL, a backhanded compliment but I’ll take it. Even if in my opinion even in this debate I came out ahead, even if only in terms of debating points – clearly I am in the minority here regarding the substance, even though I’m still convinced I am correct.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s