Addition of Lidle Isn't Without A High Cost

With the injury to Kevin Millwood and the continuing struggle of Paul Abbott, the Phillies were almost forced to do something to add another starting pitcher. That's when they pulled the trigger on a deal with Cincinnati to get Cory Lidle. That trigger didn't pull easily though and the Phillies paid a pretty high cost to get the veteran pitcher that they needed.

This isn't really an indictment of Ed Wade. The Phillies had to do something to add a veteran pitcher to their staff. Kevin Millwood was on the DL – perhaps, for the rest of the season – and they already had a hole in their rotation that was weakly filled by Paul Abbott. Vicente Padilla was returning to fill one spot, but there were no guarantees about his health or how strong he would be when he returned. Wade had to do something and was also limited by the fact that the deal would have to be a waiver deal, since the non-waiver trade deadline had passed. Could Wade have done something before the trade deadline? Should Wade have done something before the trade deadline? He likely could have and he definitely should have. The cost may not have been quite as high. Still, with the injury to Millwood, something had to be done.

The Phillies wound up giving up three players to get Cory Lidle. All three were at least decent prospects and the combined sum was pretty high. Lidle looked sharp in his first start as a Phillies, especially considering that he was working on three days rest. He is exactly the kind of pitcher that Joe Kerrigan has had a lot of success with in the past and he shares Kerrigan's love for deep, philosophical pitching analysis. Odds are that Lidle will do very well for the Phillies. One problem though is that he's a free agent at the end of the season. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.

The best known of the three prospects that the Phillies sent to Cincinnati was Elizardo Ramirez. Any guy with two nicknames – "The Lizard" and "Easy" – has to be pretty good. We were all excited when Ramirez was promoted to the majors all the way from Class A Clearwater earlier in the season. Odds are though that was the wrong move to make. Again, it came at a time when the Phillies had a certain amount of desperation and Ramirez was initially just brought in because the Phillies thought they might need an emergency starter to take Vicente Padilla's turn in the rotation. It wasn't going to be a long visit. Soon though, injuries and slumps turned the Phillies pitching staff into a mess and Ramirez was hanging around longer than anybody had originally planned. He wound up pitching in seven games, but without the benefit of any sort of set schedule like he was used to in the minors. He was also trying to be too perfect, figuring that was what he had to do, since this was the majors.

When Ramirez was eventually sent back to the minors, he went to AA Reading. He was never the same pitcher. His mechanics were a mess and mentally, he was somewhat lost in space. We all loved the bold move of promoting such a young and exciting pitcher, but in retrospect, it was a mistake. Ramirez still does carry a lot of potential and figures to be back in the majors at some point in a much more relaxed and fitting situation.

Javon Moran was a highly touted prospect who came to the Phillies in the fifth round of the 2003 Draft. Moran was one of the speed merchants added in that draft, but was admittedly not the best of the bunch. After a year of play, Moran had been outplayed by Michael Bourn, who was taken one round ahead of Moran, and the Phillies were starting to see the real Tim Moss, who they took two rounds ahead of Moran. In many ways, Moran was somewhat expendable, but still a quality prospect to have given up. For all of his speed, Moran had been thrown out 17 times attempting to steal, but he had swiped 39 bases for Lakewood. The fact that Bourn had been thrown out just five times in 48 attempts put Bourn ahead of Moran in the prospect status.

Joe Wilson was the least known of the prospects in the deal, but that doesn't mean he wasn't a decent prospect. Wilson struggled with his control at times, but he also had a strong arm and had struck out 89 in 94 innings at Lakewood this season. Wilson had made 19 starts and five relief appearances for the BlueClaws and was the 13th round pick of the Phillies in the 2003 Draft. The fact that he's a left-hander makes him especially interesting.

The inclusion of Elizardo Ramirez in the deal was what made it for Cincinnati. They wound up with two good young pitching prospects – one a righty and the other a lefty – and they got a solid outfield prospect. The Phillies, as we saw Thursday night, got a pitcher who can definitely help their rotation. Even with three days rest, Lidle was a marked improvement over Abbott and once he adjusts, should be even better. Throughout his career, Lidle has been known as an innings eater, which is something that the Phillies definitely need. His pending free agency is going to be an issue. He may turn into the Kevin Millwood of 2004, with the Phillies offering him arbitration, figuring that they need to get the draft pick compensation if he winds up going elsewhere. Of course, like Millwood, Lidle could accept arbitration and command a decent pay day from the Phillies, which they might not be entirely willing to pay. But that decision is for a later time. For now, the Phillies had to make a move and Lidle was a decent one to make even though the cost was high.

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