Tampa is strong in starting pitching, even after trading Garza and they still have a decent line up despite losing Crawford and Pena, at least they do if Damon and Ramirez play well and Sean Rodriguez’s bat that tore up the minors finds its way into the majors. Their holes are first base, which they just signed Casey Kotchman and still have Dan Johnson whom they want to try there and in the bullpen.
The Phillies can possibly help with the first base situation, since Matt Rizzotti’s bat is blocked by Ryan Howard. He is not a top flight prospect but Rizzotti has shown he can hit in the minors. He is possibly a better option hitting wise than Casey Kotchman and Dan Johnson, both who have had opportunities and have come up short. Rizzotti is more an American League type player to begin with since his defense is not very good.
The bullpen the Phillies can also help with as they have several near the majors relief options like Scott Mathieson, Michael Stutes, Antonio Bastardo, Michael Schwimer. I am not saying include any of them but I am showing that there is depth here, enough so that the Phillies have actually given up the idea of bringing Chad Durbin back and that the Phillies do have some pieces to make a fit with Tampa if they did try to acquire Zobrist. Plus there is even more pitching depth in the lower minors. A small package deal would probably be needed but there is enough to do it if Amaro ever wanted to and not feel a huge loss.
The salary would probably make it necessary to make another deal to clear some salary but that can be done by dealing Kyle Kendrick. The Phillies have that great 1 through 5 and if anything does happen, they do have a cheap starter in Vance Worley waiting in the wings who most likely can put up any numbers Kendrick does at a much cheaper cost. Since it is 5th starter depth, Drew Carpenter or Drew Naylor could probably hold the position as well. Let’s face it, 5th starters across the league are pretty much mostly the same. Guys with ERAs about 4.5 to 5 you hope you get 6 innings out of, they are replaceable. Plus these guys are actually 5th starter depth, not the de facto 5th starter. The need for any hitting from the right hand side is more important than 5th starter depth.
Now as to Zobrist’s 2010 season, he had an alright first half with a good on base percentage, though his slugging was down, and an abysmal second half. Part of the bad second half from what I have been able to gather is because he may have been playing through a back injury. Apparently it was not a structural problem because he did not have surgery or see any doctors to do rehab for it. Plus he rebounded to hit .300 with a .914 OPS in the postseason against Texas, including a home run against Cliff Lee. That is another plus in acquiring him; he has post season and World Series experience.
All in all I think it is worth the risk, but I am just a fan, not Ruben Amaro.
Barry Jeffrey Jr. writes “The Crow’s Nest” column for PSC.
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