7.31.2006

Something is Rotten in the State of Pennsylvania..

With my beloved Twins in the thick of the wild card race, I have to admit to paying more attention the Yankee’s acquisitions than usual. So when I read about Sunday’s trade (in the self congratulatory New York Times, no less) I about choked on my breakfast.

Why? Every possible reason why the Phillies might have made this trade crossed my mind. Although Phil’s GM Pat Gillick suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s seems like as likely an explanation as any, I decided ignore Gillick’s health and think the deal through logically.

Say you’re a major league GM at the trading deadline. Your team of chronic underachievers is out of contention (even considering that every team within striking distance of .500 seems to be in playoff contention). You correctly decide that it’s time to build for the future, and move to cash in some chips at the trading deadline.

Fortunately all is not lost, because you’ve got some chips to bargain with. You have a slugging outfielder, who’s relatively young and has a great on base percentage. You even have a couple of serviceable arms which are sure to go for far more than their worth, considering the lack of starting pitching on the trading block.

With so many junior circuit teams searching for another bat, things are looking good. Time to sit back and wait for the best offer to roll in, based on a combination of the trading partner’s willingness to pay some of the salary of the player in question, and offer some prospects with potential for the future.

That would make entirely too much sense. Gillick was probably as giddy as a schoolgirl after considering how many shiny new bats he could acquire from the Yankee clubhouse before deciding that it was just a bit too of steep. So he went for the next best thing: Yankee Prospects.

In trading away the most valuable player dealt at the deadline for a 27 year old LOOGY, a pair of raw Class A pitchers and an unremarkable 18 year old catcher, I finally got a very clear illustration of why the Phillies suck.

I’m aware that the Phil’s dumped a lot of salary here. I’m also aware that Abreu was massively overpaid. However, there is always a right way to dump salary and a wrong way. Many other teams would have been willing to take a large portion of Abreu’s salary while offering prospects. Naturally expecting blue chip prospects for a player with Abreu’s salary is a bit unrealistic. But the Phillies could have gotten somebody. Considering all of the teams in the thick of the playoff hunt, Abreu could have garnered a lot more, particularly when packaged with a serviceable starter like Lidle.

Brian Cashman must really know how to pick em’.

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