As you may have heard by now the Philadelphia Phillies are in the process of trying to rebuild, although one might say that they really haven’t done a good job getting started just yet.
Most expected the Phillies to really begin rebuilding at last year’s trade deadline, being that they were way out of contention and many teams were interested in some of their big names including Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels.
From what I’ve gathered general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was asking for too much for the Phillies’ many tradable veterans. He wanted prospects along with the other team taking on much of, or in some cases the entirety of the exorbitantly high salaries some of these veterans are making.
He seems to have softened some giving the Cincinnati Reds $4 million to help pay the salary of Marlon Byrd and gotten a little smater by trading with a team to whom money seems to be no object, when he sent Jimmy Rollins to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Still the team has not been able to garner a trade of their lefty ace Cole Hamels. Yes, they understand Hamels value but if the Phillies truly want to improve they’re going to have to let go.
There have been rumors that the San Diego Padres and the Boston Red Sox are interested in acquiring Cole Hamels. The Padres, for example, have made a number of positive changes this offseason, changes that may put them in contention for a spot in the postseason, while managing to hang on to their most coveted prospects in outfielder Hunter Renfroe and catcher Austin Hedges.
At first it seemed that the Padres were against the trade of these two prospects, however, information has come to light that they were willing to part with them in order to obtain Hamels’ services.
Last week USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale revealed that Amaro had turned down an offer that included Renfroe and Hedges in exchange for Hamels. In that same piece Nightengale talked about Hamels and his blantant wish to be traded in order to win again the second half of his career, something that will not happen with the Phillies.
This information begs the question, how badly are the Phillies’ really trying to rebuild their team? Why are they denying Hamels wishes when a trade could bring them valuable youth? A trade to the Padres would satify Hamels and the Phillies would recieve two top prospects who play positions in which they could use the future help.
Two prospects may not seem like enough for the 2008 World Series MVP but when taking a closer look at Renfroe and Hedges, the trade would likely have been worth it.
So with the exemption of being able to trade veterans shortstop Jimmy Rollins, outfielder Marlon Byrd and reliever Antonio Bastardo in exchange for minor league prospects, they really haven’t done much to improve their ball club.
The prospects mentioned above are all pitchers, Zach Elfin, Tom Windle, Ben Lively and Joely Rodriguez. While compiling young pitching is a great way to begin a rebuild, they won’t be enough. The Phillies’ farm system isn’t exactly filled with promising stars that will help the team, at least anytime soon.
The Phillies farm system was ranked 25th out of the 30 MLB teams by ESPN’s Keith Law, who actually says that they would have been ranked lower on the list if not for acquiring Windle and Elfin for Rollins. About the Phillies farm system Law writes,
“They might have been 28th or 29th had they not traded Jimmy Rollins to the Dodgers for a pair of solid pitching prospects, but the system still lacks depth up top, and aside from J.P. Crawford, their best teenage position players are still a long way off. More trades could obviously help push this system up.”
While each trade made worked out well on the side of the Phillies, trading veterans for youth, they will still almost assuredly finish last in the National League Central in 2015.
On Sunday the team played their first exhibition game of the season against a Division II college team from the University of Tampa Bay. The Phillies’ lost the game 6-2..
Of course it’s not like Hamels was pitching or Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz were in the lineup, but it still couldn’t have helped team moral when a group of professionals gets what could almost be considered routed by a group of college kids from a Division II school.
There are other changes the Philies could make as well. They’ve gotten close to trading closer Jonathan Papelbon and they still have Ryan Howard, but none of the offers from other teams have been acceptable for Amaro.
It really makes me question how committed to the team and to winning in the future Amaro really is.