There is actually a lot to like about Duke. The 26 year old left-hander seems to be coming into his own this season and is 9-9 with a 3.42 ERA for Pittsburgh. The numbers were good enough for Manuel to pick Duke for the National League All-Star staff earlier this month and they're good enough to have Manuel actually lobbying Amaro to pursue Duke.
In terms of prospects, Duke would come much cheaper than Halladay or the Indians' Cliff Lee, both of whom are being heavily pursued by the Phillies and other clubs. The Phillies could likely keep Kyle Drabek and Dominic Brown out of the discussion for Duke and instead, throw around names like Carlos Carrasco, Andrew Carpenter and/or Michael Taylor. Duke is also considerably cheaper than either Halladay and Lee and is under team control through 2011. Duke is owed approximately $1 million for the rest of this season and is eligible for arbitration after both this season and next before he could opt for free agency following the 2011 season.
Coming into the season, Duke had a career mark of 26-39 with a career ERA of 4.39 in all or parts of three seasons with the Pirates. Duke has pitched much better this season and is averaging just under seven innings per game for the Pirates and is on a pace to eclipse the 200 inning mark for the second time in his career.
Another thing to like about Duke is that he has allowed less than one home run per nine innings pitched over his career, which is the kind of pitcher who figures to pitch well at Citizens Bank Park.
The downside to acquiring Duke is that unless J.A. Happ was traded in the deal, or in another accompanying deal, the Phillies would then have four left-handers in their starting rotation.
Pittsburgh also has Ian Snell, who is pitching very well at Triple-A Indianapolis. Snell struggled earlier this season in the majors and is 9-20, 5.40 over the past two seasons with the Pirates. Snell, who was upset at being demoted, has said that he no longer wants to pitch for the Pirates and would prefer to be traded. At Indianapolis, Snell is 2-2 with a 0.96 ERA in six starts.
As for the proposed Halladay deal, the Phillies and Blue Jays are still talking, but neither side has blinked. The Phillies are insisting that Toronto can take either Happ or Drabek, while the Jays are insisting on getting both Happ and Drabek. The Phillies are one of the many teams who have run into a wall in dealing with Toronto's asking price for Halladay and like most of those other clubs, they are turning their attention to Cleveland's Cliff Lee. With a lot of attention shifting to Lee, the Indians are likely to raise their asking price for the reigning Cy Young Award winner.
Teams have until four p.m. Eastern on Friday to complete trades without requiring waivers on players.
The Phillies would ideally like to add a starting pitcher, potentially another arm for the bullpen and a right-handed bat to bring off the bench.