Jul 292011
Astros OF Hunter Pence

Could the Phillies deal Vance Worley for Hunter Pence?

With the MLB trade deadline a couple days away, the Phillies as a subject are leading the charge when it comes to trade rumors.  Will they trade for that right handed bat that’s desperately needed?  If so, will they have to include prized prospect Domonic Brown in the deal?  Carlos Beltran is now a Giant, but that still leaves Hunter Pence and Carlos Quentin as targets, maybe Ryan Ludwick.  Are any of them worth the Phillies making a major deal?

We’re going to find out soon.

The latest has Pence being the Phillies to lose, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.  The Inquirer says Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. prefers Pence first and foremost and has been the most aggressive in trade negotiations. 

The Phillies are rumored to have offered top Single-A prospects pitcher Jarred Cosart and slugging first baseman Jonathan Singleton along with a second-tier prospect.  The Astros are resisting.  ESPN.com says the Astros want “four surething prospects” for Pence.

A good compromise may be the inclusion of new fan-favorite Vance Worley.  Yes, the Phillies have injury issues with their rotation and yes Worley has looked fantastic.  That doesn’t change the fact that he could be the chip that seals a deal for a bat the Phillies absolutely must get to assert themselves as World Series favorites.

Remember JA Happ?  He came out on fire and was the love of everyone’s life for quite a while.  Of course, he came down to earth, eventually was moved to Houston in the Roy Oswalt trade.  Anyone seen Happ’s numbers this season with the Astros?  I won’t list them here to spare those with a less than stout constitution.

Not to say it’s a guarantee that Worley will soon start defecating the Sleep Number, but either way it doesn’t matter.  The Phillies have a dragon’s treasure collection of aces already, and the fourth one is currently rehabbing and expected back in the next week or so.

Worley, great as he looks, is ultimately expendable.  It actually makes more sense to move a major league arm like his right now when the aces are in place, saving the “baby aces” lower in the system for when they’re ready in a few years and the aces not named Hamels may be reaching the end of their era. 

The Braves are also a big player in the Pence rumors, and the Phillies really don’t want the Atlanta getting any stronger.  This means the Phillies may ultimately overpay to ensure they get the guy they want while preventing their biggest rival from closing the gap.

That doesn’t mean trading Domonic Brown makes any sense.  He’s the Phillies most prized prospect who was deemed untouchable during the Roy Halladay trade talks.  While he may not be setting the world on fire yet he still has tremendous upside and it’s way too early to give up on that.  Plus, with Raul Ibanez being a free agent at the end of the season and guys like John Mayberry and Ben Francisco being little more than fourth or fifth outfielders at best, without Brown the Phillies will still have a gaping hole in the outfield.  They need to fill it now.  And Pence is under control through 2012 so while he won’t be cheap he’ll at least provide immediate stability.  SI’s Jon Heyman is saying that swapping Singleton for Brown will get a deal done but that’s a price the Phillies shouldn’t pay.

[UPDATE] ESPN’s Jayson Stark is saying that only are the Phillies willing to include Brown, the Astros are looking to flip him for more prospects.  Both teams are looking for a third to get involved.  Wow. 

The other big name on the table is Carlos Quentin.  He’s an OK fallback option but with his power comes plenty of question marks.  Quentin is under contract this year and next, but like Houston the rumor is they want Dom Brown.  With Quentin’s injury history it would be hard to accept the Phillies trading a top prospect for him at this point.

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