Improving The Phils: Step 2 - The First Trade

If step one of our process involved changing the lineup and making Bobby Abreu a more integral part of things, there's no reason to trade him unless the Phillies are blown away by an offer. So, are there other deals the Phillies could consider?

With our changed lineup and Bobby Abreu hitting leadoff, where do the Phillies go next? How about adding a second leadoff man? Actually, it's more like making room for a second leadoff man.

The Chicago White Sox are happy with their deal that sent Aaron Rowand to the Phillies and brought Jim Thome to Chicago. Still, they wouldn't mind having both Rowand and Thome in their lineup and they have starting pitching to send to Philly.

For a while now, there has been a standing offer from Chicago of Jon Garland for Rowand. The Phillies haven't pulled the trigger and may or may not before the deadline. Garland won 18 games for the World Series Champions last season, but is struggling badly this season as many fantasy fans know. Coming into last season, Garland had a career mark of 46-51 and a career ERA of 4.68 over five seasons in Chicago. This season, he's 8-3, 5.37 in 17 starts for the Sox. Those numbers put him in the realm of average pitcher; the time for Chicago to deal him was this past winter, but that didn't happen. Instead, Chicago signed him to a new deal that pays him $7 million this season and $22 million over the next two seasons, which is way out of the league for a pitcher of Garland's numbers. The Phillies are right to say a polite "no, thank you."

Now, the Sox are offering up Javier Vasquez or Freddy Garcia. Vasquez is owed $12.5 million next season (the Diamondbacks are paying $2.5 million of that) and Garcia is owed $10 million, making the two basically the same price as one another. Garcia (10-5, 4.91) and Vasquez (9-4, 5.07) are having very similar seasons this year and are pretty close in career ERAs with Garcia posting an even 4.00 mark and Vasquez at 4.33. So, the two are basically the same pitcher and neither fits well into the scheme for the Phillies.

The guy the Phillies would need to hold out for is Brandon McCarthy. McCarthy just turned 23 and has been a starter throughout his career before being pushed into the Sox' bullpen this season where he's gone 3-4, 4.25 in 29 games (one start). The White Sox aren't really interested in giving him up, but they might be enticed. The key would be replacing McCarthy in the Sox pen, which could be done, but simply isn't likely.

A different way for the Phillies to go would be to ask for third base prospect Josh Fields. The 23 year old is at AAA, hitting .326 with 13 homeruns and the Phillies could use a true third base prospect. Offer up Aaron Rowand and either Chris Roberson or Michael Bourn (either of which could take over in center field next season if Rowand exercises his option to leave) for Fields and a lesser prospect. Don't worry much about who the other prospect is because Fields is that good. If you want to sweeten the pot or get a better prospect, send more money to Chicago to pay Rowand's salary. After all, you're already writing a check to pay for Thome, so why not one for Rowand?

The minute after that deal is done, get on the phone with Kansas City and convince them to take David Bell, who would be playing for his father Buddy with the Royals. Stress to KC that Bell is great in the clubhouse and could be a great influence on the younger players that the Royals are bringing along. Get a simple prospect in return and even pay Bell's salary if you must, but move him to make room for Fields.

With these deals done, put Shane Victorino in center field and bat him second, giving the Phillies more speed and on-base percentage at the top of the order. Rollins drops down to either sixth and Fields fills in at number seven. Abraham Nunez still plays once or twice a week as Fields learns the ropes.

Now, to fill the bench spot created by these moves. If the White Sox took Bourn in the deal, bring up Chris Roberson and get him into the lineup where possible to see what he can do at the major league level. If they took Roberson, then you have to turn to either Josh Kroeger or one of the minor league veterans (Jim Rushford or Ryan Fleming) at Scranton, since Bourn isn't quite ready for a major league audition. His turn will come in September. The other option would be to take current White Sox' center fielder Brian Anderson as part of the Rowand deal, if the Sox will give him up. It appears that they've pretty much given up on him and he's a right-handed bat who is at least a warm body for the bench. His stay in Philly will likely be short, since he could be included in another deal or sent packing in some other way during the winter, but for now, he would fill a need.

One of the things that could make this deal work is that the White Sox and their fans still love Aaron Rowand. It's that love that would let the Sox over-spend to bring him back to town and that's what the Phillies have to bank on. With any other club, you'll get a lot less than what Chicago would be likely to give you for Rowand's services.

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