–Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com has just minutes ago tweeted that the Phillies are interested in Diamondbacks ace Dan Haren. He also says that Arizona is scouting the Phillies farm system for a possible match.
Haren is having an off year by his standards (7-6, 4.56 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) but he’s also stuck in an unenviable situation with an Arizona team that is plodding along at the bottom of the standings. Haren is still one of the premier strikeout guys in all of baseball and would make the Halladay/Hamels duo an incredible trio. His contract is for $8.25 million this season, and comes very cheap for the next three. He’s set to make $12.75 million in 2011 and 2012 with a $15.5 million option for 2013. That is pennies compared to some other contracts for starting pitchers recently (see: Zambrano, Burnett). Money here shouldn’t be an option.
-When the news broke that the Phillies had a scout planted at Yankee Stadium for Cliff Lee’s last start, ears perked. For good reason, too. Everyone in Philadelphia wants this guy back, in the worst way. Could it be that the Phillies were merely scouting other players?
According to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, the Phils could have been looking at infielder Jose Lopez, a possible insurance policy for the battered infield. Lopez can play multiple positions and isn’t owed much money this year ($3 million in 2010) or next ($5 million club option with a $25k buyout in ’11). Defensively, he’s not nearly on par with Utley or Polanco, and this season his bat has failed him. Lopez is hitting just .244 with 30 RBI and a sad .607 OPS. If you look at the team around him in Seattle, you’ll realize those numbers may be skewed a bit because of how awful everyone is in that lineup.
Would Lopez be welcomed here? Baker says that it wouldn’t take much, perhaps just a mid-tiered prospect, for the Mariners to unload him.
-Now back to Lee. There’s no doubt that Charlie Kerfield, the Phillies top scout in the organization, had an eye on Cliff Lee. Everyone knows what he’s capable of and you can be sure that the Phils will inquire about him – maybe they already have. There are two major factors that would hold up such a deal.
1. Prospects: Do the Phillies have more than the Mets, Yankees, Braves, Rangers, etc.? They aren’t giving up Domonic Brown, who we’ll get to later, and their second level guys don’t appear to be on par with some other teams. Can they persuade Seattle to give him back?
2. Will Ruben Amaro and the organization admit failure if they attempt to bring him back? My thought is, yes. And for a general manager, and front office as a whole, to concede that would look and smell bad. In this town, you can lose a lot of backers quickly for mistakes of this caliber. Amaro seems like a very prideful man, so would he be willing to bite the bullet personally to try and wrangle Cliff Lee once again? It could be a PR nightmare coupled with a joyous celebration by Phillies fans who wanted Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay together from the start.
-More good news for Domonic Brown. Not only did he smash his second home run in as many games at Triple-A Lehigh Valley last night, he was named the #1 prospect in baseball by Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. Brown raked all season with AA-Reading, so the promotion to the Iron Pigs wasn’t much of a surprise. Now, we all wait with bated breath for Brown’s tour in the majors to begin.