Ruben Amaro Jr. is searching for pitching at these winter meetings, and that is no secret. The Phillies general manager is alarmed at the market prices for a mid-rotation starter. He could acquire one via a trade, but his chips are limited. The path to improving a starting staff that ranked 14th among National League teams in ERA is muddled.
It is increasingly becoming apparent that the Phillies must decide what they value more: a young power-hitting outfielder or a No. 3 starting pitcher. Domonic Brown is their best commodity. For years, they have listened to offers for him. That, of course, does not assure a trade. Brown, four years from free agency, is the type of player every team would covet. The Phillies would want a pitcher with similar upside in return.
Removing Brown from an offense that scored 3.77 runs per game in 2013 – the franchise’s lowest output since 1988 – is problematic. Brown bashed 27 home runs last season and became an all-star. The Phillies harbor concerns about his defense and durability.
Count me among those who think that hitting is more of a need than pitching. Hamels and Lee will be fine. And then you have Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who projects to be a number three caliber starter. Then there’s Kyle Kendrick, who is serviceable and at least slightly better than a replacement level starter. And then there’s the fifth spot, which is a toss-up on any team.
Meanwhile, the offense is horrific. Counting on Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, at this point, is incredibly risky. Any near-All-Star production they give you should be seen as a bonus.
If you believe reports, Amaro clearly hasn’t chosen which area – pitching or hitting – he will focus on. But I think the answer is pretty clear. I’d take my chances with Lee, Hamels, MAG, Kendrick and [fifth starter]. You could do much worse.
Go get someone that can hit baseballs being thrown at high rates of speed.