The Phillies are hoping for a third straight year that a 2nd half trade will propel them into the World Series.
In 2008, the Phils traded for Joe Blanton (giving up INF Adrian Cardenas, LHP Josh Outman and OF Matt Spencer. Last year, they traded four prospects to Cleveland for LHP Cliff Lee. Blanton and Lee posted a combined 11-4 record after first joining Philadelphia prior to post-season play.
Now, they have Roy Oswalt in the fold. Pitching for a struggling Houston Astros team, Oswalt is 6-12, but with a 3.42 ERA. Now it is Oswalt who must pick up the slack and help his new team into the post-season.
Phil Garner, who managed Oswalt from 2004-07 and a trip to the 2005 World Series, said that his former ace was at his best when pitching in another pretty good trio with Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte (2004-06). Garner said that he thrived on the internal competition… to be the best of the three. And Garner may have been right. Oswalt was 55-30 in those three seasons, including his only 20-win seasons in 2004 and 2005.
Now, Oswalt gets to work with Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. And the Phillies have their playoff rotation set two months before the post-season starts.
And teams trying to get to the World Series in this era are looking to put that pitching “trio” together. The Yankees had it last year with C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Pettitte. The Cardinals have it in 2010 with Adam Wainright, Chris Carpenter and rookie Jaime Garcia, as do the Red Sox (Beckett, Lester, Lackey).
But this trade works for the Phillies on many other fronts…
– The Phillies didn’t have to trade OF Jayson Werth or prized prospect Jonathan Singleton to get the deal done… there is a high ceiling for Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar, but both are playing at Class A, still at least three years away from making a mark in the Majors.
– They receive $11 million from the Astros… this cuts Oswalt’s $23 million in salary for this season and 2011 almost in half for what the Phillies will have to pay him.
– They got Oswalt to waive his no-trade clause… so the Phillies could make a deal sending Oswalt away prior to his option year in 2012 and not have to worry about the potential trade being blocked.
– They have Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt set through 2011… so the Phillies will be a threat to win another World Series both this year and next.
But it is also the financial end that was an important piece to the puzzle, no matter what the Phillies say.
So much was made of the perceived $140 million plateau for the team’s payroll. Many fans believe that is the main reason that Cliff Lee is now pitching for the Texas Rangers. The Phillies brass still say it was the poor early negotiations with Lee’s agent that forced the trade to Seattle in the off-season.
But if you break down what Oswalt’s salary numbers mean for the next couple of seasons, you get the following…
2010- Because the Phillies are getting $11 million back from the Astros, the remaining $5 million in salary this year for Oswalt is gone. He is a “freebie”.
2011- Oswalt is owed $16 million, which is actually only $10 million after you post the remaining money from the Astros.
The Phillies will lose Jamie Moyer’s $8 million salary as his latest injury seems to all but end his time in Philadelphia. The team also gets back $3 million from former players owed money. Then, the Phils must make decisions on Chad Durbin, Greg Dobbs, Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero ($9.2 million total).
All of those moves will decide whether or not the team will be able to make a run at re-signing Werth. The Phillies may have to get a bit creative, similiar to Blanton’s contract, by backloading the money to keep him in a Phillies uniform.
After 2011, the Phillies will have Raul Ibanez’s $12 million come off the books, as well as Danys Baez, but they will have to talk to Jimmy Rollins about a new contract, as well as Cole Hamels.
With Hamels having a re-birth this season, he is going to command a big raise, giving the Phillies a starting rotation with paychecks close to what the N.Y. Yankees have.
But on the field, this is a “win-win” because it puts the Phightin Phils right back in the hunt for a trip to the World Series.
The Battle Continues…
For those reading this outside of Philadelphia, there is a perceived war going on between the Phillies and the Eagles as to who really controls this town.
For years, Philly has been owned… lock, stock and barrel… by the Eagles. Well, that started to change and culminated with the Phillies winning the World Series in 2008. Since then, it seems that each franchise has tried to “one-up” the other with important news to grab the headlines.
Today was no different. The Phillies trade for Roy Oswalt. The Eagles, not to be totally swept off the back page, sign DE Brandon Graham, their 1st Round Draft Pick, at a time when NFL teams are struggling with 1st Round contracts due to the pending lockout in 2011.
Line Of the Day…
Credit to Comcast Sportsnet’s Michael Barkann for this one (and the Phillies merchandise people should be on this quickly).
The new trio of Halladay, Hamels and Owalt should be called… “H2O”.