Pat Gillick is coming up on his third - and possibly last - trade deadline with the Philadelphia Phillies and he's been fairly active in each of his first two. Perhaps, with a look at what he's tried to do in the past, we can get a glimpse at what he might do for this deadline.
In Gillick's first July as the Phillies GM, the Phillies were 36-43 (.456) and 11 games out in the NL East when July started. Realizing that the team was going nowhere, he gave up some veteran players for prospects in hopes of turning the team around in a couple of years down the road. The moves actually paid immediate dividends as the Phillies went 49-34 (.590) from the first of July on and finished second in the NL East, but still a distant 12 games behind the New York Mets.
I don't think I'll ever forget a post that I saw on a Phillies fan forum that was titled: "Sal Fasano Stinks Like Feet". Well, Fasano wasn't exactly beloved in Philly, but he did at least have his own - small, but loving - fan group; "Sal's Pals" they were called. To them, Fasano was a hero. After all, he did have pizza sent up to them, which can never hurt a player's popularity. No, Fasano wasn't exactly a popular player and he never really put up big numbers in Philly, but he was never really supposed to. Fasano was a guy who was to serve as a back-up catcher, pick up a hit here and there and just fill a roster spot.
Ironically, the Yankees were looking for just that sort of player a couple of summers ago and Pat Gillick was happy to oblige, sending Fasano to the Bronx Bombers for barely known Hector Made. While Fasano wasn't popular, Made was just not that good. He didn't last long in the Phillies organization and hit just .227 in his season and a half in the organization. But hey, we only gave up Sal Fasano to get him, so what did you expect. Made is now out of baseball having finished his career as a career .268 minor league hitter.
July 28, 2006 - Acquired Wilfredo Laureano from Milwaukee for third baseman David Bell
Speaking of unpopular, David Bell was right there. After signing with the Phillies as a free agent in December of 2002, it didn't take Bell long to wear out his welcome when he hit just .195 in his first season with the Phillies and played in only 85 games. From there though, he had what could be considered a career-year when he hit .291 with 18 home runs the following season. Unfortunately, Bell's name was one of many that showed up on BALCO lists and was hit with the stigma of being a steroid user. To be honest though, Bell could have been prescribed the steroids to help with a back condition that plagued him late in his career and ultimately ended his career after the 2006 season.
Again, keep in mind that the Phillies didn't give up much in the deal, so they weren't going to get much. Laureano actually put up decent numbers for the Phillies in seven games at Lakewood in 2006, but blew out his arm and didn't pitch again after that season.
So far, two trades and nothing much to write home about.
This is a deal that has been debated back-and-forth among fans since the second it was made. The Phillies took a bunch of prospects and gave up an all-star outfielder and a serviceable pitcher and depending who you ask, got nothing in return. While Abreu hasn't been a superstar in New York, he's been very good, hitting 34-210-.290 and scoring 218 runs in just over 1,200 games with New York. Not bad numbers for a player that many fans in Philadelphia saw as being on the downside of his career. Some believe that dealing Abreu was addition by subtraction for the Phillies, basing their beliefs on reports that Abreu was at odds with other players in the clubhouse and was simply not popular with other players during his time in Philly.
So, did the Phillies get anything out of this deal?
Again, it depends on who you ask. Henry had decided that he had enough of baseball and quit to pursue a basketball career. Before long though he was back and signed a minor league deal with the Yankees this past June and is hitting .234 in the Florida State League. Sanchez, who was a pretty highly thought of catching prospect likely won't be back with the Phillies next season. This season, he's hitting just .186 at Lakewood and doesn't appear to have much of the ability that scouts believed him to have earlier in his career.
That leaves us with the two pitching prospects that the Phillies garnered out of the deal. Smith has spent a lot of time on the DL and only a little in the majors with the Phillies, which is unfortunate, because Smith was the closest to being a major league player and figured to be at least a decent left-hander to bring out of the bullpen. After some success as a left-handed specialist in 2006 - 2.08 ERA with the Phillies in 14 games - Smith struggled horribly the following season, going just four innings in nine games and posting an 11.25 ERA with the big league club. By the end of April, he was sent out to Triple-A and was pitching pretty well when his season ended in mid-June because of injuries. Now, Smith is healthy again - or at least healthy enough to be back on a mound - and is 0-1 with a combined 3.08 ERA in ten games with the Gulf Coast League Phillies and the Clearwater Threshers - and working his way back toward the majors. If all goes perfectly, Smith could get a call for September or will at least come into camp at 100% and look to claim a job in the Phillies bullpen.
Carlos Monasterios has been pretty good in the Phillies organization, but is moving slowly. After a good debut with the Phillies GCL team in 2006, Monsasterios was 11-11 with a 4.26 mark for the Lakewood BlueClaws last season. Monasterios moved up to Clearwater this season and has battled injuries, but appears to be healthy again. Unfortunately, his 2-7 record and 5.89 season ERA aren't healthy, bringing up questions about whether he truly is healthy. If he is healthy, then he's certainly getting hit a lot harder than the Phillies would have imagined. It will be interesting to see how he holds up for the rest of the season and to find out what the Phillies will do with him both during the off-season and next Spring. Since returning from the DL, Monasterios has an 8.86 ERA and has lost all four of his starts with the Threshers. It should be mentioned that Monasterios is still just 22 and has some time to develop, provided he doesn't lose much more time to injury.
July 31, 2006 - Acquired Justin Germano from Cincinnati for Rheal Cormier
No, Gillick wasn't done in his first trade deadline as the Phillies GM. To finish out the trading season, he sent aging left-hander Rheal Cormier (who is on the Canadian Olympic team roster) to the Reds for Justin Germano. Cormier, was nearing the end of his career, and the Reds needed a left-handed reliever. Especially with the arrival of Smith, the Phillies felt comfortable sending Cormier to the Reds in hopes that a young Germano would develop into a decent major league pitcher. While Cormier was very effective for the Phillies, he was much less so for Cincinnati. The Reds cut him after he pitched just three innings for them in 2007 and he hasn't pitched in the majors since.
For a while, it looked like the Phillies had made a mistake on Germano; not by acquiring him, but by letting him go to the San Diego Padres on waivers prior to the 2007 season. After lackluster numbers with Cincinnati in the majors during the 2006 season, the Phillies sent him to Triple-A to finish out the year and in six starts, Germano posted a 2.84 ERA and seemed to have a future with the Phillies. After not making the club in 2007, the Phillies had to expose Germano to the waiver wire and lost him to the San Diego Padres. Initially, it looked like a huge mistake as Germano was seemingly coasting through the season and entered the all-star break with a 3.90 ERA which he promptly lowered in his first start after the break by throwing 6.1 shutout innings against Arizona. From there though, things started to fall apart and by the end of the season, his ERA had moved to 4.46 with San Diego. Still, there were thoughts that giving up Germano was the wrong move. Those thoughts were changed this season when Germano was simply horrible and was designated for assignment in May and cleared waivers. The Padres now have him pitching at Triple-A and the results haven't been much better.
In 2007, the Phillies came into July in somewhat better shape (41-40, 2.0 GB) in the NL East. Gillick was in much more of a buying mood, looking for a player or two that might help get the squad into the playoffs. While he wasn't as busy as the previous season, Gillick made a move that would help the team down the stretch, but it might wind up costing them in the long run, as many deadline deals do.
In his tenure with the Phillies, Gillick has been busiest with Wayne Krivsky (now unemployed) and Jon Daniels (Texas Rangers). Last season, looking for a veteran pitcher to add to the rotation, Gillick called up his old buddy Wayne Krivsky of the Reds and was able to get pitcher Kyle Lohse. The cost though was left-handed prospect Matt Maloney.
Lohse hadn't pitched very well in Cincinnati last season (6-12, 4.58), but he was knows for eating up innings. With the Phillies bullpen weaknesses being exposed by overuse, Gillick figured that Lohse might give them the innings that they needed to rest the bullpen a little. As a Phillie, Lohse averaged just under 4.2 innings per start though and his ERA in Philly was 4.72. The Phillies did go on to win the division and Lohse entered free agency after the season and lingered on the market, sparking thoughts that the Phillies might move to re-sign him. They never did and Lohse wound up signing with the Cardinals and has turned things around. This season, Lohse is averaging over six innings per start and has a 3.68 ERA with the Redbirds.
Meanwhile, the 24 year old Maloney isn't pitching quite as well at Triple-A as he did last season for Cincinnati, but he's got a very respectable 4.19 ERA, just about a run higher than what he posted last season at the Reds top affiliate. Maloney could very well get a September audition and join the St. Louis rotation next season.
Jesus Merchan was not considered a decent, but expendable prospect in the Phillies organization. After all, with the Phillies being young and solid in the middle-infield, Merchan would wind up as a utility infielder, at best, so he was available. For their part, the Mariners were looking to dump a guy who had been accused of domestic abuse during a road trip to New York and had been banished to the minors for his alleged behavior. The Phillies never did bring him up to the majors and he was released after the season and hasn't pitched in affiliated ball this year. Meanwhile, Merchan is putting up very good offensive numbers at Triple-A Tucson, with 50 RBI and a .347 average through 86 games. He still figures to be mainly a utility type infielder at the major league level, but his chances appear to be much greater to reach the majors than they were even just a year ago.
This season, the Phillies were again looking for pitching as July started. As we - and Dr. Phil - say, the best indicator of behavior is past behavior and Gillick obliged. Just as he did in 2007, he looked for innings over other numbers and found someone he liked.
Cardenas and Outman were both highly rated in the Phillies organization and especially Cardenas was one guy that many Phillies fans didn't want to see leave town. To see them both go in one deal for a guy who was just 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA in Oakland was disappointing to say the least. Blanton's first two starts with the Phillies have only served to make the deal worse (0-0, 7.88). Once again, the guy who was supposed to eat innings has struggled and has thrown just a combined eight innings in his first two starts as Phillie. In fact, Blanton's start is not unlike the one that Lohse got off to with the Phillies in his first two games which resulted in a 6.14 ERA and saw him last just a combined 7.1 innings. At least Lohse was able to go 3-0 as a Phillie.
Cardenas and Outman are both likely to be in the majors before too long with Oakland. The A's have reversed the Phillies decision to move Outman to the bullpen and have had him start two games for them as they stretch out his arm to give them more innings. So far, he's been hit hard and has a 12.27 ERA in two Double-A starts in the A's organization, but figures to straighten things out and get himself back on track. Cardenas hasn't missed a beat, hitting .302 in nine games with High-A Stockton.
As with most deals involving young prospects, it's likely that only time will tell whether or not this latest deal will turn out to be a good one. For now though, it's certainly not popular and will only gain in popularity if Blanton can return to being not only the innings eater that the Phillies wanted, but a guy who can post a much more respectable ERA and get some wins for the Phillies.