With the Phillies likely headed to a fifth consecutive division title, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr will likely make a trade (or two) before the July 31st trade deadline. Whether it’s a right handed power bat, or a reliever, the player’s contributions will hopefully be enough to keep the Phillies on track for their second world championship in four seasons.
Below are the rankings for the last four seasons’ midseason trades. Why the last four seasons? Because ever since 2007, the Phillies have been buyers instead of sellers at the trade deadline. Who can forget 2006 when the team traded away Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle, essentially giving up on the rest of the season, despite a winning record?
4. 2007: The Phillies traded a prospect to the Cincinnati Reds for starting pitcher Kyle Lohse.
Lohse was undefeated in 11 starts (and 13 appearances) with the Phillies. Yet his 3-0 record can’t overshadow his not-so-impressive 4.72 ERA and his 1.443 WHIP. In the postseason, Lohse allowed one earned run in 1.1 innings.
The Phillies likely would have won the National League East division title with or without Kyle Lohse, who was probably a below average starting pitcher in his 11 starts.
3. 2010: The Phillies traded two prospects and 2009 Rookie of the Year runner-up J.A. Happ to the Houston Astros for three-time All-Star Roy Oswalt. They also traded a player to be named later/cash considerations to the Seattle Mariners for Mike Sweeney.
Trading away Happ was a phenomenal move. Absolutely brilliant. Happ was 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA in 2009 but he’s proven to be the next Kyle Kendrick, as he is 4-11 with a brutal 5.88 ERA this year.
Oswalt was dominant over the final two months of the 2010 season, winning his final seven decisions and posting a 1.74 ERA. His only loss was his first start with the team, which came just hours after he landed in Philadelphia following the trade. In the postseason, he was 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA. Oh, and who can forget Oswalt playing left field in the 14-inning thriller?
2. 2009: The Phillies traded four prospects to the Cleveland Indians for reigning American League Cy Young winner Cliff Lee and backup outfielder Ben Francisco.
Lee assumed the much-needed role of ace for the 2009 Phillies, who, despite three-time Cy Young winner Pedro Martinez, 23-year veteran Jamie Moyer, rookie sensation J.A. Happ, Opening Day starter Brett Myers, and reigning World Series MVP Cole Hamels, needed a dominant pitcher to make a World Series run. Lee won his first five starts in Philly, posting an 0.63 ERA. Although he cooled off near the end of the year, he dominated in the postseason, winning four of his five starts, with two complete games, and a 1.56 ERA.
Francisco contributed as a backup, batting .278 with five home runs. He played left, center, and right field for the Phillies. (Then he turned in a forgettable 0 for 11 postseason.)
1. 2008: The Phillies traded three prospects to the Oakland Athletics for starting pitcher Joe Blanton. They also traded Brian Schlitter to the Cubs for lefty specialist Scott Eyre, and they traded a player to be named later (Fabio Castro) to the Toronto Blue Jays for pinch-hitter Matt Stairs.
Blanton, like Lohse a year ago, was undefeated over the final two-plus months of the regular season. He won four games, but his ERA (4.20) wasn’t impressive either. In the postseason, Blanton turned it up a notch (2-0, 3.17 ERA in three starts), and he forever be remembered for his World Series home run.
Eyre teamed with J.C. Romero to form an unhittable lefty specialist duo. He pitched in 19 games, and allowed just eight hits and three walks in 14.1 innings. He struck out 18, and posted a 3-0 record to go with his 1.88 ERA.
Stairs didn’t play much during the regular season. He batted .294 (5 for 17) with two home runs. But he delivered one of the most memorable home runs in Philadelphia Phillies history, a two-run pinch-hit game-winning blast in the eighth inning of Game 4 of the NLCS off Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton.
Why are the acquisitions from 2008 ranked number one?
Because the 2010 Phillies would have won the division, steamrolled over the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS, and lost to the Giants in the NLCS with or without Oswalt (and Sweeney). The 2009 Phillies would have won the division, steamrolled over the Rockies and Dodgers, and lost to the Yankees in the World Series with or without Lee (and Francisco). But the 2008 Phillies had key contributions down the stretch and in the postseason from three midseason acquisitions, and it’s unknown whether they would have won the World Series without Blanton, Eyre, and Stairs. Personally, I still believe that the Dodgers would have won the NLCS if they had held on to tie the series at two games apiece.