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Impossible for Amaro to get equal value for Pence

July 31, 2012 - Mitch Rupert
It was a great day to be a follower of the Phillies on Tuesday. It was an interesting day.

Opinions on the deals were popping up like random summer thunderstorms, full of ferocity at first, and dwindling to nothing more than a comfortable breeze as the reality of the situation set in. Ruben Amaro Jr.'s hands were tied. He was never going to get more value for Hunter Pence than what he could with a year and a half of team control left, and it appeared there was no way Shane Victorino would be re-signing with the Phillies at the end of the season.

The biggest argument that seemed to pop up, especially on Twitter, was that the Phillies got nothing close to equal trade value for Pence as what they paid at the deadline a year ago. And that's the truth.

Double-A catcher Tommy Jospeh, A-ball pitcher Seth Rosin and major league veteran Nate Schierholtz clearly do not equal the package of prospects the Phillies sent to Houston last July. Even when you add in the year of production from Pence - .289 average, 28 home runs, 94 RBIs in 155 games - along with the three players the Phillies received from San Francisco yesterday, it still doesn't seem to balance out.

And that's where much of the vitriol flung at Amaro seems to stem from. The price of Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Domingo Santana and Josh Zeid, in hindsight, was probably too much to pay for a right-fielder who just one year later is not even on your roster.

But that's hindsight. I'm sure if Amaro had a crystal ball last July and could foresee a future that involved losing Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Placido Polanco for significant portions of 2012 that he might re-think the deal.

Life, unfortunately, doesn't work in hindsight. There's no do-over in much of anything except Wiffle ball. Singleton and Cosart are top 50 prospects. Former Williamsport Crosscutter Santana, at just 19 years old, has 17 home runs and 78 RBIs in 86 games in advanced A-ball.

I posed the question on Twitter about whether or not the Phillies got any positive return on their investment into Pence. The responses were all similar.

"Not even close. Pence trade with HOU turned out, in hindsight, to be a mistake" - @dochammy.

"Not at all. I wish we still had those guys, especially Singleton." - @IssacKandavalli

"Not even moderately close รค very disappointing" - @ScottGeiger66

That's the reality, though, of investments. Sometimes they don't pan out like originally hoped. Just ask people on Wall Street who play the stock market every day.

My reaction to last year's deal was different. I've always been a firm believer in trading away prospects for proven veteran talent, especially in the Roy Oswalt and Pence deals in the last two seasons. But the reactions I got on Twitter on Tuesday got me wondering what the overall reaction was like to the trade last July.

I dug up the trade thread on phuturephillies.com, a Web site full of posters with an abundance of knowledge about baseball and the Phillies' minor league system. Of the 247 responses to the initial news of the trade, I counted 28 responses of clear support of the deal. There were just eight that were clearly opposed to giving up that much minor league talent.

At the time it was a deal that had to be made almost regardless of cost. The Phillies desperately needed outfield help to off-set the struggling seasons of Raul Ibanez, Ben Francisco and Domonic Brown. They also desperately needed a run-producing, right-handed bat.

Check.

Check.

And check.

The players coming to Philadelphia in both the Pence and Victorino deals aren't going to make you forget about losing two all-star outfielders. But they provide some hope.

Josh Lindblom is a reliever who can go right into the struggling Phillies' bullpen and is just 25-years old. Ethan Martin is a starting pitching prospect who has a live arm and is just 23. Seth Rosin sounds like a Ryan Madson clone, a mid-to-upper-90s fastball and a good change-up.

The most exciting prospect may be 21-year old Tommy Joseph, a Class AA catcher who has shown worlds of power and a strong arm that's seen him throw out 38 percent of base-stealers. He fits into a minor league system that already boasts two pretty good catching prospects in former Crosscutters Sebastian Valle and Cameron Rupp.

To make room for Joseph, the Phillies promoted Valle, a 22-year old from Mexico, to AAA Lehigh Valley on Tuesday so both could catch every day. All of a sudden, three years after being void of any catching prospects in the system outside of Valle, the Phillies have an abundance to pick from.

Who knows, maybe in a year Giants and Dodgers fans will be griping that their team gave up too much for Pence and Victorino.

Mitch Rupert covers the Williamsport Crosscutters for the Sun-Gazette. Reach him at 326-1551, ext. 3129, or by email at mrupert@sungazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/Mitch_Rupert.

 
 

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