Past Trades Have Worked Well For Phils As Players Pan Out

So far, so good: A Phillies prospect retrospective

Written by: Eric Longenhagen

The trade is perhaps baseball’s most fascinating event. The individuals involved suddenly have their lives uprooted and relocated somewhere entirely new, Twitter explodes, the Majestic factory in Easton, PA, begins minting never-before-seen jerseys and you venture to to berate Keith Law for his opinion on the trade because he invariably hates the team you root    for. More often than not, these trades involve one party trading a known, short-term asset for one or more relatively unknown, long-term assets. We call these young players “prospects.”

Jonathan Singleton is the most recent of a long list of highly regarded prospects the Phillies have traded away. (David Schofield/For The Times)

Thanks to the internet, people know more about prospects than they ever have before. Sometimes this is lovely. Rangers fans know who Jurickson Profar is and have interesting discussions about what GM Jon Daniels will do with Elivs Andrus when Profar is ready for primetime. Roto freaks sit with their finger on the mouse waiting for Desmond Jennings to get called up so they can be the first to snatch him off waives and reap the financial benefits shortly thereafter. We also get to make jokes about Yeonis Cespedes’ core strength. That’s all fantastic. Inevitably, there’s also plenty of bad that comes with the obsession. People overreact, become prisoners of the moment and suddenly think the world of Junior Lake and very little ofDomonic Brown. Insufferable blowhards pester Kevin Goldstein, “How is Austin Romine not on this list? He’s a future star! Moron.” Just because you are passionate about something doesn’t necessarily mean you are well informed. Prospects teach us this all the time.

Domonic Brown

No matter how smart you are when it comes to prospects, you’re not that smart. None of us are. You’re predicting the futures of teenage children, many of who are simultaneously learning baseball and assimilating into an entirely new culture. Mistakes in judgment will be made. To show as much, I have compiled here a nice little case study. Thanks to the aggressive nature of General Manager Ruben Amaro (and his predecessor Pat Gillick) the Phillies have essentially traded away an entire farm system worth of talent over the past four years. This franchise’s sequence of events is prime for analysis. The Phillies went from a franchise suffering from a decade’s worth of mediocrity (Mike LieberthalTravis Lee!) and became one of baseball’s juggernauts. They’ve done a lot of this via “the trade.”

How did these trades shake out for each of the franchises involved? Did the prospects pan out the way we thought they would? With the Phillies, we have a large enough sample of deals and, most importantly, enough time has passed to talk about the principles involved with some degree of certainty. Hopefully you’ve been entrenched in prospectdom long enough to recollect your thoughts on these trades at their time of completion. In parentheses after each prospect’s name is their peak ranking in the Phillies system per Baseball America.

Phillies acquire Brad Lidge from Astros for Michael Bourn (Peak rank: #3), Geoff Geary and Mike Costanzo (#6)

Lidge had one magical season that undoubtedly helped the Phillies win a World Series. “Magical” is code for “he was very good but also very lucky.” Lidge has since suffered a drastic decline in stuff and physical health. Bourn became an above-average regular at a premium position, surpassing many a pundit’s expectations that he’d be a fourth outfielder. Astros GM Ed Wade traded him to the Braves this past season for too little. He’s an excellent player. Geary (a middle reliever) and Costanzo (who never saw the majors) are inconsequential. From a sheer regular season baseball value perspective, the Astros won this trade, but the Phils won a title, so we’ll call it a push.

Phillies acquire Joe Blanton from A’s for Adrian Cardenas (#2), Josh Outman (#4) and Matt Spencer

Blanton, his injuries and his conditioning have all been frustrating of late, but he too played a role that led to Philadelphia’s 2008 championship. Outman reached the majors and looked like he’d be a nice back-end starter until Tommy John surgery sucked some life out of his fastball. He was traded to the Rockies this week. His role is up in the air, but it’s safe to say he’s at least an un-embarrassing placeholder while the Rockies develop upgrades. Adrian Cardenas was named High School Player of the Year by Baseball America in 2006. At the time of this trade, he was the centerpiece. A once potential middle infielder with a plus bat, Cardenas isn’t good enough defensively to play anywhere in the infield (other than 1B) and his bat isn’t good enough to profile in left field. He’s only 23, but he looks like an extra guy at best. Spencer was a throw-in and has never made it to the majors.

Phillies acquire John Mayberry Jr. from Rangers for Greg Golson (#2)

Your classic change of scenery trade, Mayberry had been a first-round pick of the Mariners during Gillick’s tenure in Seattle but decided not to sign and went to college at Stanford instead. He was redrafted by the Rangers a few years later, again in round one. When you’ve been drafted twice in the first round, you’ve got tools to succeed. Mayberry clearly hasn’t optimized his talent for one reason or another (Stanford is notorious for irreparably altering hitters’ swings) but the change of scenery did him some good. He’s a fine fourth outfielder or platoon bat and showed some chops in center field last year. Mayberry whacks lefties, plays every outfield position pretty well and can moonlight at first base in a pinch. To get that for six years at a very low cost is a bargain. Golson had one of the most impressive tool packages you’ll ever see but could never sort it out at the dish. He’s an extra guy.

Phillies acquire Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco from Indians for Lou Marson (#3), Jason Donald (#4),Carlos Carrasco (#1) and Jason Knapp (#10)

I don’t have to tell you what Lee has been up to. Carrasco has always had top-of-the-rotation stuff but had the most glaring on-mound makeup issues I’ve ever seen. As soon as something went wrong, he’d unravel. While Carrasco has gotten things together enough that he’s not a basket case, he’s no world beater, either. He might yet put it together and yield above-average results, but it’s hard to believe he was once the crown jewel of the Phillies system. Knapp was the other piece in this deal with any real upside. A plus-plus fastball and a workhorse build meant Knapp had top-of-the-rotation potential as long he could be kept healthy and develop secondary stuff. That hasn’t happened. Knapp threw just 28 innings in 2010 and didn’t pitch in 2011. There’s still time for Knapp, he’s only 21, but it’s now much more likely he’s just a reliever. Marson has become a fine defensive catcher but profiles as a backup. Donald can’t play shortstop well enough to play every day and doesn’t hit enough for anywhere else. He’s bench fodder.

Phillies acquire Phillippe Aumont (#2), Tyson Gillies (#8) and JC Ramirez (#5) from Mariners for Cliff Lee

The Phillies found out in 2010 what the Mariners had known since 2008 had ended: Phillippe Aumont’s control issues relegate him to the bullpen. The control issues, which stem primarily from Aumont’s size and lack of athleticism to overcome it, are still there and rear their ugly head in frustrating spurts. The stuff, however, is nasty. Mid-90s heater with sink and a plus curveball mean Aumont will be a fine late-inning arm. He’ll arrive in Philly sometime this year. Gillies is still a work in progress after chronic injury issues derailed 2010 and 2011 for him. His slappy swing could mean he’ll have on-base issues in the future. He looks like a nice extra outfielder but if the approach somehow holds up and the defense is either elite in a corner or average in center, he’d be a decent regular. JC Ramirez has regressed to a point where it’s tough to consider him a prospect at all right now. His strikeout rate has plummeted. On a side note, I find it amusing that Seattle now employs both Justin Smoakand Jesus Montero, the prospects they were essentially deciding between when they ultimately chose to send Lee to the Rangers in 2010.

Phillies acquire Roy Halladay from Blue Jays for Michael Taylor (#3), Travis d’Arnaud (#4) and Kyle Drabek (#2)

Taylor was immediately spun to Oakland for Brett Wallace and has been a disappointment. He’s never had the kind of raw power you’d expect from someone built like an NFL tight end (thanks again, Stanford) but had average-or-above tools across the board. Billy Beane re-signed Coco Crisp and acquired Josh Reddick andSeth Smith this winter. Those aren’t exactly endorsements of Taylor’s future. Drabek, his plus fastball and power curveball in tow, looked like a future #2 starter. The Phillies certainly thought so, they deemed Drabek untouchable for quite a while before begrudgingly parting with him in order to land Doc. Drabek reached Toronto last year but couldn’t find the strike zone. He had some embarrassing walk rates before being sent back down to the minors. He’ll need to be rebuilt. Travis d’Arnaud is going to end up being the best player in this trade. The young catcher won Eastern League MVP this past year and looks like he might contend for big boy MVPs one day. In an online environment where we probably talk about prospects too much, we don’t talk about d’Arnaud enough.

Phillies acquire Roy Oswalt from Astros for JA Happ (#8), Jonathan Villar (#22) and Anthony Gose (#6)

Oswalt was miscast as an “ace” when he got to Philly. He’s now a mid-rotation guy whose fastball velocity has dipped enough that it can no longer make up for what he lacks in downhill plane. Teams seem hesitant to give him even a one-year deal thanks to natural decline and his balky back. Happ was always a back-end starter at best. Thanks to some great luck on balls in play, good run support and Ed Wade’s ineptitude as a GM, the Phillies sold way high on Happ after a nice rookie year. Shortstop Villar was just 19 years old at the time of the trade. He remains a bit of a project at the plate but strides are being made. Villar posted a .767 OPS at high-A Lancaster last year before being moved up to double-A as a 20-year-old. The defense will stick at shortstop, so if he can hit even a little bit, Villar will be a fine big leaguer. He’s still a work in progress, perhaps the least polished member of this entire piece. Upon acquiring the uber-toolsy Gose, Ed Wade immediately flipped him to Toronto for … Brett Wallace, again. Toronto made some mechanical alterations to Gose’s swing to improve his performance at the plate, lengthening his stride a bit. I’m relatively bearish on Gose, I just don’t believe in the bat, but he’s one of the toolsiest athletes I’ve ever seen. Gose’s defense in center field is good enough that he’d likely be a nice player no matter how anemic his offensive output might be. Just something to keep in the back of your mind should Gose crap out completely: The lefty touched 97mph on the mound in high school.

Phillies acquire Hunter Pence from Astros for Jonathan Singleton (#2), Jarred Cosart (#4) and Josh Zeid

Jonathan Singleton is just 20 years old, but all indications are he’s going to be a monster. The physicality, the swing, the approach, it’s all there. After struggling a bit at the beginning of last year (the Phillies were tinkering with his swing a bit), Singleton dominated high-A. He hit .333/.405/.512 after this trade. Polished for a hitter his age, Singleton could see a cup of coffee with the Astros at the end of 2013. Cosart has a nasty three-pitch mix, a mid- to upper-90s heater with arm side run, and a curve and change that flash above average. It’s top-of-the-rotation material. Enthusiasm for Cosart is curbed by his violent delivery, which some see as a harbinger of doom as it pertains to his health. He has had arm issues in the past. Zeid is a nice middle-relief prospect.

Desmond Jennings

I spent three intro paragraphs alluding to the importance of objectivity and patience when it comes to talking about these young kids. Then, I revealed my unbridled zeal for Singleton and d’Arnaud. Does this make me a hypocrite? Yes. Yes, it does. I can’t help it, we’re talking about prospects. But look at what we have here: almost a trade a year for five years. Players of almost every career arc imaginable. Established big leaguers (Bourn), relative disappointments (Taylor, Aumont), future studs (d’Arnaud, Singleton), guys teetering between disappointment and stud (Drabek, Gose), change-of-scenery guys who worked out (Mayberry) and didn’t (Golson), and young kids about whom we still have plenty to learn. The ripples from this series of trades will be felt for the next decade or so. I hope this has shown you how volatile even the most highly regarded prospects can be and changes, for the better, the way you perceive them.

Eric Longenhagen

Eric Longenhagen

Eric Longenhagen is a 22 year old male who hails from the tiny Pennsylvania town of Catasauqua. He frequents minor league baseball games to scout baseball players and he one day hopes to be paid to do so.

Website – More Posts


Lidge Setting Up Shop In DC For The Nats

Nats bring Lidge on board with one-year deal

 By Bill Ladson /

WASHINGTON — The Nationals agreed to terms with reliever Brad Lidge on a one-year contract Thursday.

Brad Lidge

Brad Lidge by afagen

Lidge will join a bullpen that includes right-handers Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. Besides providing leadership to a bunch of young relievers, Lidge will probably be one of the team’s setup men.

Lidge has spent the past four seasons with the Phillies. Last year, Lidge spent time on the disabled list because of shoulder problems. When he returned to action, Lidge appeared in 25 games and had a 1.40 ERA.

As recently as 2008, Lidge was one of the best closers in baseball, helping the Phillies win their first World Series title since 1980.

Tyler Clippard

Tyler Clippard


Lidge started his Major League career with the Astros in 2002. He has saved 223 games with an 3.44 ERA during his career, and his best season was in ’08, when he saved 41 games and had a 1.95 ERA.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Drew Storen

Drew Storen

Lidge Twiddling Thumbs Looking For Closing Role Somewhere

Unsigned Lidge playing the waiting game

Right-hander remains confident in ability to close games

By Paul Hagen / | 01/09/12

PHILADELPHIA — On a crisp January day, workers were dismantling the Winter Classic hockey rink that, just a week earlier, had made Citizens Bank Park the epicenter of the hockey world. Bulldozers scraped the ice, now slush, and dumped it in the parking lot outside.

Phillies fan on October 31, 2008 at World Seri...

Things change. And as it happened, working out inside the home clubhouse was a man who understands that reality as well as anybody.

Three years ago, Brad Lidge was the most celebrated reliever in baseball. The Phillies right-hander didn’t blow a save during the regular season or playoffs. He went 47-for-47 overall, including dropping to his knees after recording the final out of the 2008 World Series as an entire city stood and cheered.

Monday, he was just one of several free agents still looking for a job.

What makes his story interesting, though, isn’t what he was when he played such a big role for the 2008 World Series champions.

It’s that in a what-have-you-done-lately business, he has done pretty darn well. In his last 51 appearances, Lidge has a 1.02 ERA.

Granted, that’s a body of work that has been separated by more than a half a season spent on the disabled list with both shoulder and knee problems at the beginning of the 2011 regular season. Yet that doesn’t seem to be the biggest reason he still hasn’t caught on with a team — even though Spring Training is just a little more than a month away.

From all outward appearances, the reluctance is connected to the fact that while his fastball used to routinely hit 95-96 mph, it’s now more typically in the 90-91 range.

Brad Lidge during pregame warmups

“It shouldn’t matter, but it does for some reason,” Lidge acknowledged with a wry grin. “At the beginning of my career, I would have said, ‘Who cares? I throw hard.’ At this point, I’m not throwing as hard. But I know how to pitch a lot more now. I know how to effectively use what I have.

“You’d think it would just be production. But it’s not. It’s bizarre to me because I still have a very high swing-and-miss percentage. I think velocity is so important for some teams, and the prototype closer throws hard. So if you’re not throwing as hard, suddenly you’re not a closer. And I don’t understand that totally. But it is what it is.”

It also hasn’t helped that there were a boatload of late-innings relievers available this winter. Jonathan Papelbon (Phillies) and Heath Bell (Marlins) cashed in with big free-agent contracts, but Joe Nathan (Rangers), Jonathan Broxton (Royals), Darren Oliver (Blue Jays) and Andrew Bailey (traded from the A’s to the Red Sox) were added for considerably less payroll commitment.

“This has just not been a great year to be a closer, period, because there are closers everywhere this year,” Lidge said. “It just so happens that [this year] there are closers everywhere that can be had at a lower price than an elite closer.”

By the time Lidge was activated from the DL last season, Ryan Madson had established himself as manager Charlie Manuel‘s go-to guy in save situations. Lidge understood the situation and accepted it without complaint. He would still like to close, however, but realizes he may not have the opportunity to open the 2012 season in that role, as there are still free-agent closers available, including Madson.

“At this point, I probably could have taken some offers,” Lidge said. “At the same time, they weren’t quite right for me. It is always a little surprising when you feel like you can still close and you’re still going to be a good closer and the market out there is not such [that you get a chance].

“There are a lot of teams that want you to be there in case their young guys doesn’t do well — to be a setup guy. And that’s great. We’ll kind of see how that plays out. That might be what I have to do. But at the same time, when you feel really good and you’re still putting up good numbers and you know you can close games, it’s tough. Because it doesn’t matter how good you feel, it just matters how teams think.”

Lidge hopes to make a decision soon. The Phillies are still looking to add bullpen depth — they have recently been rumored to have talked to Kerry Wood — and their onetime closer said no doors have been closed on his return yet.

In the meantime, Lidge and his family have returned to Philadelphia after spending the holidays at their Colorado home. He works out daily at the park and hopes for the best. It’s a lot different than it was in 2008, when the Phillies gave him a three-year, $33.5 million extension at midseason to keep him off the free-agent market.

“I guess I’ve been fortunate. I never had to pay any attention to that prior to this year,” he said with a smile. “But obviously, at this point you do have to pay attention to it. I don’t know if anybody can notpay attention to it when January rolls around and you’re not officially with a team.

“It’s been interesting. It’s a little unsettling at times. Sometimes it’s fun when you’re talking to teams. It’s a very unique experience.”

Paul Hagen is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Madson Packs Bags… Headed for Cincinnati

Reds, closer Madson agree on one-year deal

Cincinnati fills one of biggest needs in snagging free agent

Ryan Madson signing autographs before the Marc...

CINCINNATI — The Reds agreed to terms late Tuesday on a one-year, $10 million contract with free-agent closer Ryan Madson, a baseball source confirmed to

Jon Heyman of and MLB Network had the initial report of a deal being reached. The Reds have not announced any agreement. A message was left with general manager Walt Jocketty.

Citing sources, Heyman reported earlier in the evening that talks between the two sides were heating up and in the serious stages. However, a source familiar with the situation downplayed the report to, saying it was unlikely the Reds would get Madson unless his agent — Scott Boras — came well off the demand of a four-year, $44 million contract he had been reportedly been wanting.

And with this seeming to be a one-year deal for Madson, that certainly appears to be the case.

Francisco Cordero

Talks had been ongoing all winter with former Reds closer Francisco Cordero, who became a free agent after his $12 million club option was not exercised. Cincinnati had a one-year contract offer at an unknown figure on the table but could never reach an agreement with Cordero.

It looks as though the Reds turned their attention to the only other closer remaining on the market from a once-crowded field, though former Phillies closer Brad Lidge remains on the market.

Madson was believed close to re-signing with the Phillies earlier in the offseason before they signed Jonathan Papelbon. Last season, in his first full year as Philadelphia’s closer, the right-handed Madson was 4-2 with a 2.37 ERA and 32 saves in 34 chances while making $4.8 million.

The addition of a new closer further underscores the pitching makeover Cincinnati has made this offseason in an effort to go for the National League Central title in 2012. Late last month, the Reds parted with several young players in two separate trades that brought in starting pitcher Mat Latos from the Padres and left-handed reliever Sean Marshall from the Cubs.

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Latest Headlines

Don’t expect Howard on opening day 

CSN Philly

Ryan Howard‘s recovery from surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon is moving along and he could be ready for baseball activities by the time spring training opens in mid-February. Publicly, the Phillies are taking a wait-and-see approach on Howard’s readiness for opening day. Privately, the team probably has a much different mind-set. Privately, team officials may have already ruled out Howard for the April 5 season opener in Pittsburgh. Why do we believe this? Because the last couple of years, coinciding with head athletic trainer Scott Sheridan’s rise, the team has become more conservative in the time it takes getting banged-up players back on the field. Jimmy Rollins and Shane”

Phils’ Howard cleared to begin exercises

CSN Philly
“The Phillies received some encouraging news on Thursday.  Foot and ankle specialist Mark Myerson cleared first basemen Ryan Howard to begin some strength and power exercises, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. The 32-year-old slugger, who had surgery to repair a ruptured left Achillies in October, will start jogging underwater and is likely to begin baseball activities within six weeks.”

Should Lidge’s number be retired?                   

CSN Philly columnist Casey Feeney
“With the calendar turned to 2012, the resignation has set in: Brad Lidge will not be a Phillie next season in all likelihood. From the club’s perspective, there are a fair number of reasons why they would be set to move in a different direction. Lidge has been injury-prone in recent seasons and his decline is evident both statistically and visually. His fastball is only occasionally effective, which renders him a 1-pitch pitcher on most nights. That’s not the point here. Nothing in that previous paragraph is a revelation. Unlike Roy Halladay, we come here, not to bury, but to praise Lidge.”

Angels ‘very unlikely’ to add closer Ryan Madson

Los Angeles Times

“There have been persistent Internet rumors linking the Angels to free-agent closer Ryan Madson, but General Manager Jerry Dipoto said it is “very, very unlikely” the team will acquire the former Philadelphia Phillies relief ace, or any closer, for that matter. “What I’ll say with some degree of certainty is that our most significant acquisitions have already been made,” Dipoto said, alluding to the signings of slugger Albert Pujols (10 years, $250 million) and pitcher C.J. Wilson (five years, $77.5 million). “We’re trying to add depth, and in a perfect world, we’d like to find another guy to join Jordan Walden, Scott Downs and LaTroy Hawkins to help with those last nine outs. But closer”

Cardinals downplaying interest in Oswalt                   

CSN Philly 
“According to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals’ interest in Roy Oswalt is being downplayed. This is not exactly shocking news considering that the Cardinals already have Kyle Lohse, Chris Carpenter, Jamie Garcia as a their top three starters, with Jake Westbrook and Kyle McClellan available as starters too. Not to mention one huge addition to the rotation a healthy Adam Wainwright.”

Phils enter 2012 content with what they have 

CSN Philly 

“The arrival of the New Year and the end of the Eagles season has put the Phillies in the on-deck circle. Spring training is just seven weeks away, close enough for baseball junkies to begin counting down the days and still far enough off for general managers to make a few more moves. Ruben Amaro Jr. isn’t planning any. At least any big ones. “We’re pretty happy with the team we have in place,” the Phillies’ general manager said Tuesday. “If there’s an area we might play around with it’s the bullpen, but I’d say there’s a pretty good chance we might be done.””

Boras clients will help shape next flurry 
“As the calendar flips from 2011 to 2012, baseball stirs from its holiday hibernation with a similarly notable transition. This is where the Hot Stove season morphs into the Hot Scott (Boras) season. The agent with the most influence and biggest clientele in the sport has spent the offseason’s first couple of months coiled in the grass — two-year deals for Willie Bloomquist and Bruce Chen here, one-year pacts for Andruw Jones, Gerald Laird and Andrew Brackman there — and now is ready to spring.  Boras may not have exactly cornered the free-agent market, but he definitely has a huge share of the block, going forward. Of the fewer than 100 remaining free agents — counting those”

Sources: Cubs, Phillies pursuing Kerry Wood

Sources: Cubs, Phillies pursuing Kerry Wood

The Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies have shown the strongest interest in free-agent reliever Kerry Wood, major-league sources say.

Kerry Wood

Wood, 34, resides in Chicago and has previously indicated that he would like to remain with the Cubs – where he has spent 11 of his 13 big-league seasons. But more than two months have passed this off-season without an agreement between Wood’s representatives and the Cubs.

While the Cubs are a team in transition, the Phillies are carrying a hefty payroll and championship expectations into the 2012 season. Philadelphia does appear to be one reliever short; key contributors Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge were lost to free agency, while the status of Jose Contreras is unclear after he underwent arm surgery in September.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick first reported earlier Sunday that the Phillies were considering Wood.

— Jon Paul Morosi

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