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2009 Trade Deadline Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

Buyers or sellers?

The defending world champions are leading the NL East by 6.5 games with a 55-40 record. They will be buyers at the deadline.

Short-term need

The Phillies offense has been terrific; they are leading the National League in runs scored. They could upgrade at catcher but Carlos Ruiz is passable as a player at the bottom of a lineup. Jimmy Rollins has been terrible at the plate but given his name and national publicity there's no way they are looking for a replacement shortstop. The rest of the position players have all been better than average at least and have kept the club in first place in spite of some poor pitching.

The pitching is the Phillies' weakness and that's where the front office is looking to upgrade the club. The rotation has been mediocre, with Jamie Moyer showing his age, Joe Blanton's inconsistency, and the continues shuffling of fifth starters. One thing to note though is that part of the starter's struggles can be attributed to unsustainable HR/FB rates. Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, and Jamie Moyer all have HR/FB rates above 13.5%, much higher than their career averages. If those figures regress the rotation won't look quite as bad. Still, adding Roy Halladay would give the team a huge boost and if the price is right they shouldn't think twice about pulling the trigger.

Most of the bullpen has imploded this year but Ryan Madsen is still his usual self and Chan Ho Park has been effective for the second year in a row. Brad Lidge has a career high walk rate (5.91 BB/9) but his HR/FB rate is an insane 18.6%. That number will go down and Lidge should be a pitcher similiar to how he was with the Astros if not the unstoppable force he was last year. Despite the bullpen's struggles the Phillies have focused their attention on starting pitching so there doesn't figure to be more than a low level arm added here.

Long-term need

The offense should be stacked for the near future, especially if they don't trade away prospects like Michael Taylor, Jason Donald, and Lou Marson. All three could be filling in for players at some point, but aren't needed right now. If Ryan Howard's attitude regarding arbitration is any hint the Phillies might want to prepare for life without him, but that is still a ways down the road. Given his skills and body type he figures to be a player who peaks early anyways.

The pitching will continue to need work for the next few years. Unless something unexpected develops (like a trade for Roy Halladay), Cole Hamels will be their only elite starter for at least the next few years. Most of the bullpen arms are aging and replacements will be needed for the long run. The Phils should continue stockpile high-upside arms like they have done with Cole Hamels and Kyle Drabek and eventually some of them will help fill out the pitching staff.

Big leaguers on the market?

Obviously the Phillies won't be trading away any of their top contributors this year. The only player on the big club who has been involved in many trade rumors is J.A. Happ. Happ could be involved in a trade for an ace such as Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, or Eric Bedard, but otherwise he will probably stay with the Phils.

Minor league strength

The Phillies have a few high-ceiling players in their system but not the depth that some other teams have. Perhaps their most exciting pitching prospect, 21 year-old Kyle Drabek, has been very good between two levels this year. Not surprisingly, he has been rumored as the headline prospect in many of the recent Roy Halladay trade rumors. Another young right-hander, 22 year-old Carlos Carrasco, has struggled at the Triple-A level this year despite decent peripherals. The Phillies are hoping to include Carrasco instead of Drabek in their quest for Halladay.

The Phillies also have two young outfielders, Michael Taylor and Dominic Brown, who have been heavily involved in the Halladay trade rumors. Taylor is an impressive specimen (6'6", 250 lb.) with the numbers to match. Splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A, he's hit .330 with 24 doubles, 17 homeruns, 40 walks, and 20 steals. Dominic Brown is also 6'5" but doesn't have the numbers that Taylor does. He's hitting .300 at the High-A level with 9 homeruns, 14 steals, and an .886 OPS. At his level those are still elite numbers though.

Take on short-term money to win?

Given the push they've made for Roy Halladay, it seems that the Phillies are willing to take on quite a bit of money if that's what it takes to repeat as World Champions.

For more coverage of the Phillies, check out The Good Phight.