With Cory Lidle and Jon Lieber winning their last two starts their trade market-value has increased but the Phillies have also won two games. They currently stand 6.5 games and 8 teams out of the wild card with 63 games to be played. Since the All-Star break the Phils have gone an unimpressive 6-6 which means to achieve 87 wins they need to finish the year 41-22. This past week was supposed to help Pat Gillick evaluate just how desperately he needs to change his team’s roster. Since the Phils, riding Chase Utley’s 27-game hitting streak, won the past two games it could be argued that they should hang on to their two veteran starters. Lidle is certainly pitching well as of late and Lieber has gone 9-1 with a 2.43 ERA in the past three Septembers. So if Gillick has any lingering hope that the Phils will contend for the wild card, he should think about keeping Lidle or Lieber.
If the attention of the front-office turns to the medium-term however, the Phils have several opportunities to unload their starting pitching – the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays are all still interested in a solid starter for the stretch run. The Phillies are now said to be discussing a deal with the Yankees that would net them lesser prospects for Abreu – with the catch being that the Yanks have to take on Jon Lieber, too. Lidle, a former Met and a high school teammate of Jason Giambi’s, may make more sense for the Yankees, especially considering Lidle is half the price of Lieber and is a free agent at the end of the year.
Much of any deal between the Phillies and the Yankees revolves around which prospects the Phillies can secure in return. The Inquirer reports the Phils want the Yankees top pitching prospect, Philip Hughes, who is currently assigned to the Trenton Thunder; but Buster Olney on his ESPN blog says they won’t get him. Next on the list would be Scott Proctor though the Yankees are hesitant to let him go due to Kyle Farnsworth’s occasional back problems. The Yankees have also declined letting their 18-year old outfield prospect Jose Tabata be considered. Another option thought by many to be among the best pitching prospects the Yanks are willing to part with would be Steven White, who is 2-5 with a 4.86 ERA in nine starts for Triple-A Columbus. Still, the Yankees’ best hope of acquiring Bobby Abreu would be if the Phillies were simply trying to get rid of his salary – and Pat Gillick is certainly not that desperate yet.
The Yankees are by far the most interested team in buying Phillies; and now, with Pat Burrell claiming he will only waive his no-trade clause for the Yankees or Red Sox, the admiration goes both ways. Similarly, based on the claim that the teams that miss out on the Carlos Lee and Alfonso Soriano race will be the ones with interest in Abreu, the Phillies remain central on the Yankees radar. News today from ESPN reports that the Texas Rangers have completed a trade to bring Carlos Lee in from Milwaukee. This means the Tigers and Yankees are still in the Abreu hunt with Boston and St. Louis remaining fringe contenders. This also means that the Brewers – ahead of the Phillies by 1 game in the wild card standing – are already throwing in the towel. With a five-game series against the Marlins, another of the eight teams above the Phils, set for this weekend, it is still possible the Phils can battle for a playoff spot. I think the picture will be come much clear on Sunday with Randy Wolf scheduled to start in the second half of a day/night doubleheader on the day before the trading deadline. If the Randy and the team look hot, it might go a long way in offering Pat Gillick a dose of the annual hope which leads us to believe the Phillies are still in it.