Phillies prove teams can be both buyer and sellers

Have you ever walked down a city street and seen a guy wearing pants with one leg up around the knee? Drive a few blocks away and you see another guy with almost the exact same look, only this time it’s the other pant leg that’s up. I found out — thanks to a wife in criminal justice — that’s more than just a fashion statement. The pant leg in the air is code: one short pant leg means you’re buying; the other short pant leg means you’re selling.

Will Roy Oswalt end up in a Phillies uniform?
Will Roy Oswalt end up in a Phillies uniform?

Don’t be surprised if you see Phillies GM Ruben Amaro walking around in a pair of clam-diggers this week. The Phillies are one of a few teams who are buying and selling.

Go ahead, let the visual of Amaro patrolling the streets with pants rolled up to both knees marinate for a few minutes. "Who’s got pitchers? Anybody got pitchers? You got pitchers? You need outfield? I got great deals on outfield."

With the MLB trade deadline looming, the Phillies are in a rather unusual position of being buyers and sellers at the same time. Of the six divisions in baseball, there are four in which the lead — heading into Monday’s games — is less than five games. But it’s the other two divisions that seem to be making most of the trade headlines.

First, to clean up the goings on in the AL West, the Rangers traded for Cliff Lee a few weeks ago and have extended their division lead over the Angels since the All-Star break. The Halos answered yesterday, despite being seven games out of first place and nine out of the wild card. That didn’t stop them from trading for Dan Haren from the Diamondbacks to try and make a late-season run to get back to the playoffs.

The other division making noise without a close race is the NL East. Phillies are just 5-5 in their last ten, but that includes four-straight wins after a moribund start to the second half. All the talk around who the Phillies might trade for — especially with Haren now dealt to the Angels — is Roy Oswalt, while all the talk of who they might trade away starts and ends with Jayson Werth.

First, let’s look at the Phillies prospects as buyers. Oswalt said he wanted to go to St. Louis, but the Astros threw a giant price tag on his front window, a clear indication that they did not anticipate giving their divisional rival any sort of discount. So now that Oswalt has already said he’d be willing to restructure the $16-million he wants guaranteed in 2012 for one team, would he be willing to do it for another? And, as news broke that St. Louis is apparently pulling themselves out of the running for Oswalt’s services – coupled with the fact that the Astros have yet to lower their price despite the fact that Haren was traded for far less than the Astros are looking to deal their ace – are the Phillies suddenly the only team left dealing with Houston?

Jayson Werth has struggled with runners in scoring position.
Jayson Werth has struggled with runners in scoring position.

Does that Help Amaro find an equitable price to bring a second ace with a giant price tag, less than a year after he traded Lee to Seattle for 60 cents on the dollar in a clear salary dump? Is Amaro looking to buy just to make up for his seller’s remorse?

Of course, we mustn’t forget about the other pant leg up around the knee. If Werth is dealt, it opens the door for rising star Domonic Brown, rated the top prospect in all of baseball – now that half the minor leagues has been called up this season – by more than one reputable source. The Phillies didn’t trade Brown last year and clearly won’t now, as he’s been pegged as the future of the franchise in the outfield. The Phillies would love to dump Raul Ibanez’s albatross of a contract but there’s no GM in the league dumb enough to take that on at this point.

So, even if they’re only five games out of the division that they’ve won three years in a row and they’re suddenly playing solid baseball, now may, in fact, be the best time for the Phillies to part ways with Werth. The alternative, of course, is letting him walk after the season when they’ll get nothing in return. So can Werth get enough value back for the Phillies to make trading him, ahem, worth it?

Every team in the league knows that Werth wants to test the free-agent market, so trading for him would be nothing more than a playoff rental with a theoretical chance to have first dibs on signing him after the season. No team is going to mortgage their future on a three-month rental player, let alone a guy who has been as streaky as Werth. It’s important for Amaro to shop Werth – keep that pant leg rolled as high as it goes, Rube – but that doesn’t mean he has to sell. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com thinks the Phillies can still go after Oswalt and keep Werth for the rest of this season:

There have been numerous reports the Phillies would have to trade Jayson Werth to clear salary and gain prospects for Oswalt. But I have heard recently that is not the case. While the Phillies are exploring trade partners for Werth, they could acquire Oswalt and keep Werth. And if I’m the Phillies, that’s exactly what I do, unless I get an incredible offer for Werth. I know fans would love to see Domonic Brown up here, but I think it would be unfair to expect him to do what Werth has done the past couple seasons. Plus, as I have written many, many times before, Werth is an incredibly streaky hitter. He is hitting .387 (12-for-31) with five doubles and three RBIs in his last nine games.

Werth has been dreadful this season with RISP, but can Phillies fans expect a player who started the season in Double-A to slot right into a power-production spot in the lineup and not struggle in his own right? Zolecki is right in thinking the Phillies should hold out for a great offer and if that doesn’t come, keep Werth, bring up Brown in September and let him play left field while Ibanez becomes the most expensive pinch-hitter in baseball history for a month. Then, when (if?) Chase Utley eventually comes back into the lineup, there’s another productive bat that gives you an offensive boost to justify going after Oswalt to get stronger on the mound.

The Phillies have been as injured as any team in the league, outside of maybe the Red Sox. But unlike the Red Sox who are eight games out and in third place in their division, the Phillies are still in striking distance to win the NL East, or the wild card. The next few days can clearly change the entire trade-deadline landscape, and for the Phillies, determine which pant leg Amaro pulls down first. Everyone in Philadelphia hopes it’s just not both.

You can read/listen to more from Dan Levy at OntheDLpodcast.com and follow him on Twitter @onthedlpodcast

Have you ever walked down a city street and seen a guy wearing pants with one leg up around the knee? Drive a few blocks away and you see another guy with almost the exact same look, only this time it’s the other pant leg that’s up. I found out — thanks to a wife in criminal justice — that’s more than just a fashion statement. The pant leg in the air is code: one short pant leg means you’re buying; the other short pant leg means you’re selling.

Will Roy Oswalt end up in a Phillies uniform?
Will Roy Oswalt end up in a Phillies uniform?

Don’t be surprised if you see Phillies GM Ruben Amaro walking around in a pair of clam-diggers this week. The Phillies are one of a few teams who are buying and selling.

Go ahead, let the visual of Amaro patrolling the streets with pants rolled up to both knees marinate for a few minutes. "Who’s got pitchers? Anybody got pitchers? You got pitchers? You need outfield? I got great deals on outfield."

With the MLB trade deadline looming, the Phillies are in a rather unusual position of being buyers and sellers at the same time. Of the six divisions in baseball, there are four in which the lead — heading into Monday’s games — is less than five games. But it’s the other two divisions that seem to be making most of the trade headlines.

First, to clean up the goings on in the AL West, the Rangers traded for Cliff Lee a few weeks ago and have extended their division lead over the Angels since the All-Star break. The Halos answered yesterday, despite being seven games out of first place and nine out of the wild card. That didn’t stop them from trading for Dan Haren from the Diamondbacks to try and make a late-season run to get back to the playoffs.

The other division making noise without a close race is the NL East. Phillies are just 5-5 in their last ten, but that includes four-straight wins after a moribund start to the second half. All the talk around who the Phillies might trade for — especially with Haren now dealt to the Angels — is Roy Oswalt, while all the talk of who they might trade away starts and ends with Jayson Werth.

First, let’s look at the Phillies prospects as buyers. Oswalt said he wanted to go to St. Louis, but the Astros threw a giant price tag on his front window, a clear indication that they did not anticipate giving their divisional rival any sort of discount. So now that Oswalt has already said he’d be willing to restructure the $16-million he wants guaranteed in 2012 for one team, would he be willing to do it for another? And, as news broke that St. Louis is apparently pulling themselves out of the running for Oswalt’s services – coupled with the fact that the Astros have yet to lower their price despite the fact that Haren was traded for far less than the Astros are looking to deal their ace – are the Phillies suddenly the only team left dealing with Houston?

Jayson Werth has struggled with runners in scoring position.
Jayson Werth has struggled with runners in scoring position.

Does that Help Amaro find an equitable price to bring a second ace with a giant price tag, less than a year after he traded Lee to Seattle for 60 cents on the dollar in a clear salary dump? Is Amaro looking to buy just to make up for his seller’s remorse?

Of course, we mustn’t forget about the other pant leg up around the knee. If Werth is dealt, it opens the door for rising star Domonic Brown, rated the top prospect in all of baseball – now that half the minor leagues has been called up this season – by more than one reputable source. The Phillies didn’t trade Brown last year and clearly won’t now, as he’s been pegged as the future of the franchise in the outfield. The Phillies would love to dump Raul Ibanez’s albatross of a contract but there’s no GM in the league dumb enough to take that on at this point.

So, even if they’re only five games out of the division that they’ve won three years in a row and they’re suddenly playing solid baseball, now may, in fact, be the best time for the Phillies to part ways with Werth. The alternative, of course, is letting him walk after the season when they’ll get nothing in return. So can Werth get enough value back for the Phillies to make trading him, ahem, worth it?

Every team in the league knows that Werth wants to test the free-agent market, so trading for him would be nothing more than a playoff rental with a theoretical chance to have first dibs on signing him after the season. No team is going to mortgage their future on a three-month rental player, let alone a guy who has been as streaky as Werth. It’s important for Amaro to shop Werth – keep that pant leg rolled as high as it goes, Rube – but that doesn’t mean he has to sell. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com thinks the Phillies can still go after Oswalt and keep Werth for the rest of this season:

There have been numerous reports the Phillies would have to trade Jayson Werth to clear salary and gain prospects for Oswalt. But I have heard recently that is not the case. While the Phillies are exploring trade partners for Werth, they could acquire Oswalt and keep Werth. And if I’m the Phillies, that’s exactly what I do, unless I get an incredible offer for Werth. I know fans would love to see Domonic Brown up here, but I think it would be unfair to expect him to do what Werth has done the past couple seasons. Plus, as I have written many, many times before, Werth is an incredibly streaky hitter. He is hitting .387 (12-for-31) with five doubles and three RBIs in his last nine games.

Werth has been dreadful this season with RISP, but can Phillies fans expect a player who started the season in Double-A to slot right into a power-production spot in the lineup and not struggle in his own right? Zolecki is right in thinking the Phillies should hold out for a great offer and if that doesn’t come, keep Werth, bring up Brown in September and let him play left field while Ibanez becomes the most expensive pinch-hitter in baseball history for a month. Then, when (if?) Chase Utley eventually comes back into the lineup, there’s another productive bat that gives you an offensive boost to justify going after Oswalt to get stronger on the mound.

The Phillies have been as injured as any team in the league, outside of maybe the Red Sox. But unlike the Red Sox who are eight games out and in third place in their division, the Phillies are still in striking distance to win the NL East, or the wild card. The next few days can clearly change the entire trade-deadline landscape, and for the Phillies, determine which pant leg Amaro pulls down first. Everyone in Philadelphia hopes it’s just not both.

You can read/listen to more from Dan Levy at OntheDLpodcast.com and follow him on Twitter @onthedlpodcast

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