Saving The Sinking Ship- How To Save The Philadelphia Phillies- PART I

Thirty-seven wins; Fifty losses. Last place. The ship is sinking. Your Philadelphia Phillies, our Fightin’ Phils, are on their death-bed and Ruben Amaro Jr. must decide wether or not to pull the plug. While you might think there still is a chance, try to look forward. Would you rather watch them put up a fight, only to come up short or start preparing for next year? I think it’s time to start clearing house for next season, but not to rebuild; but to reload. The Phillies can get younger, have a star-studded lineup, a decent bullpen, and Cole Hamels in the rotation in 2013. However, it won’t come without making sacrifices. Here is how they do it:

Going into free agency this winter, the Phillies have $112.6 million committed according to mlbtraderumors.com. With the luxury tax threshold being $178 million, that leaves the Phillies $65.4 million to spend. Of course they will have some holes to fill. Hamels, Victorino, and Blanton highlight the Phillies free agent class for 2013. They also could end up letting third baseman Placido Polonco walk after this season, which creates a hole at third base. So, The Phillies will need to add possibly 2 starting pitchers, a center fielder, a third baseman, and a few relievers. They will have to spend a good deal to be a contender next year. But, what can they do this year? This is where it gets tricky, and please stay with me; Hamels has to get traded this month, as does fellow ace Cliff Lee. Yes, you read that correctly. That’s part one.

PART ONE: Trade Cliff Lee to the LA Dodgers and trade Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers.

You must be asking, why would the Dodgers want Lee? He will 34 next year and has yet to be Cliff Lee this year. Still, his WHIP is great for someone who is 1-5, standing at a solid 1.19. Maybe it’s just bad luck that Lee has been having. On a positive note, he did pitch great in his last start, recording his 1st win of the season. Maybe the Cliff Lee of old is showing up and with one, maybe two starts left, he can make an impression. What if he is stellar? The Dodgers are in first, but need a starting pitcher due to the inconsistency of Chad Billingsley and the inexperience of Nathan Eovaldi. They are in need of pitcher who can get them over the hump, and pitch good in the postseason; Cliff Lee is that guy. But again, he will be 34 this August, and is owed $102.5 million from 2013-2016. Well, what if he cost half that? That makes him an attractive option for the Dodgers. Here is the trade:

Dodgers get: SP Cliff Lee and the Phillies will pay half of his contract from 2013-2016 ($51.25 million total)

Phillies get: Minor League RHP Angel Sanchez, LHP Chris Reed, and OF Alex Castellanos

This trade strengthens the farm system, adding two great pitchers and a power-hitting outfielder. Reed could end up being a young, effective lefty out-of-the-pen next year. Ultimately, it helps strengthen a broken farm system and puts money in the Phillies pocket. In 2013, they will have $12.5 million more to spend, bringing them to a total of $77.9 million. Now, onto Hamels.

Hamels, the top of next year’s free agent class, is due to make big bucks next year. The Phillies can certainly afford him, especially if they send Lee to the Dodgers. But, right now, he is more valuable in a trade, and the Rangers would love to have him. Here is the trade:

Rangers get: SP Cole Hamels

Phillies get: Minor League 3B Mike Olt, SS Jurickson Profar

Again, this move helps strengthen the minors in a big way. Profar is one of the Top 10 prospects in baseball, and will sever as the successor to Jimmy Rollins. Olt, on the other hand, could have an immediate impact as the Phillies starting third baseman in 2013. This year, he is batting .292 with 22 homeruns in AA ball. He would do a good job for the Phils batting in the bottom of the order.

Now, it’s important to note that going into the offseason, if these trades were to happen, our rotation would be destroyed. No Hamels. No Lee. But, Hamels loves it here in Philadelphia, and even said he’d give the Phillies first bids when he hits free agency. The Dodgers are believed to be the Phillies biggest threat this offseason in the Hamels sweepstakes. But, with the Dodgers having Lee, they might look elsewhere this offseason, increasing the chances of Hamels return. The Phillies will also have more money to spend, so it would be hard to see the Phillies not resigning Hamels. Of course, other teams will be in the hunt, but not with as much money and influence on Hamels than the Phillies. In conclusion to part one of my seemingly (and understandably) crazy plan to fix the Phillies, the Phillies end up upgrading their farm system, adding our future third baseman, and resigning Hamels. Not so bad now is it? Part 2 will be coming in the next few days, as I reevaluate next years market and the current status of the organization.

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