Phils Youngsters On Parade As Trade Bait

Teams looking for prospects are fanning out their scouts to look at the Phillies' minor league prospects. Those prospects could be important pieces of various puzzles with exactly seven weeks to go until the July 31 trade deadline.

A lot of the trade noise surrounding the Phillies has centered around a blockbuster type of deal. Names like Bobby Abreu, Pat Burrell and even Aaron Rowand have been thrown around.

First, forget the rumors of Rowand returning to Chicago for pitcher Jon Garland. Rowand has become the heart and sould of this team and while he's not the publicly outspoken type, his clubhouse leadership is simply too much to ignore. And his face damaging catch in center field truly did send a message to his teammates that there will be no excuses. The Phillies simply can't trade Rowand, even if Garland were pitching well, which he isn't.

Pat Burrell is somewhat in the same situation. Not so much for his leadership, but simply because he's a rare right-handed power bat in the middle of a bunch of left-handed hitters. Unless there is another right-handed bat to replace him in the lineup - which there isn't - he's not likely to go anywhere either. Shane Victorino and David Dellucci could likely fill holes in the outfield, but Victorino (who is at least a switch-hitter) doesn't have the power and Dellucci is a left-handed hitter.

Abreu would be the most likely target in a blockbuster deal, but he has a no-trade clause and it's not clear whether the Phillies would really want to send him elsewhere. Rest assured that they would have to be blown away with an offer.

That leaves dealing young players for any help in the rotation.

One thing to watch is how the Dontrelle Willis situation plays out. The Marlins want young position players in exchange for Willis (although publicly they say they won't trade him) and the Phillies could help them out. Some scouts see parts of Juan Pierre in Michael Bourn and the Marlins are one of those teams. Bourn has also gotten hot of late, raising his average to .270 on the season and teams are taking note.

The Phillies have some young catchers in the organization and could be talked into parting with one of them. Jason Jaramillo is perhaps the best of the bunch, but Lou Marson is no slouch and could be part of a deal. Carlos Ruiz didn't do much in his major league audition earlier this season, but his value is still pretty high, plus, he's major league ready, while Jaramillo and Marson have some more work to do in the minors.

The Nationals could be a good partner for the Phillies. Their minor league system is particularly bad and they've got Livan Hernandez to deal. Plus, the Nationals are considering dealing a number of position players and guys like Chris Roberson could come in and play right away if the Nats make as many moves as it looks like they could conceivably make.

The Phillies also have position prospects at the lower levels for teams that may be willing to wait a little to see the return on a deal that they would make this season.

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