With all the talk about the Twins losing their closer, Joe Nathan, to season ending surgery many people have overlooked another playoff contending team that may need the services of Padre closer Heath Bell even more than the Twins – the Philadelphia Phillies.
Even before the recent announcement that their mercurial closer, Brad Lidge, received a cortizone shot to his achy elbow the Phils were a team in need of backend bullpen help. Aside from Lidge’s current health problems he was inconsistent last year at best, and set up men Ryan Madson and Danys Baez are not guys that can step in for the long haul. Bell would be a perfect addition either as closer, or even uber-set up man if Lidge comes back as the dominant closer he was in 2008.
So what do the Phils have to offer if Ruben Amaro gives Jed Hoyer a call?
Not as much as they had last year. Once a minor league system full of high-end prospects, many of them were sent away in trades that brought back top caliber pitching like Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. They did try to restock with the subsequent trade of Lee to the Mariners, but they are now left with one top tier prospect in Dominic Brown, and a bunch of lower level high return but high risk guys.
- Dominic Brown: 22 year old left hand hitting outfielder that played AA last year. Can be an All-Star caliber corner outfielder, with good speed but some questions still remain about how much power will emerge as he continues to mature. Detractors say he has no single exceptional skill to warrant much excitement. Phils have steadfastly refused to part with him in any trades even for Lee and Halladay so it’s highly unlikely they’ll part with him for Bell.
- Phillipe Aumont: Obtained from the Mariners in the Lee trade, this 21 year old right-hander has a live fastball with excellent action on his 2 –seams fastball to induce grounders. He was moved to the bullpen by Seattle, but the Phils seem to want to try to have him start again. He has had some injury issues with elbow and shoulder in recent years, possibly because he seems to throw across his body and on a stiff front leg. He has enough to be a quality backend bullpen guy if the starting assignment proves to be too much with those mechanics.
- Trevor May: 20 year old right-hander who has put up solid numbers in the lower levels. Has three quality pitches with fastball 92-94, curveball and changeup that are ready to be tested with higher level hitters. Still a couple years away from being ready for big leagues.
- Tyson Gillies: Fast centerfielder from Canada. He showed good offensive skills in A ball (.341 avg. .430 OBP), but unproven against better pitching. Despite great speed, has only been an average base stealer, but raw speed is there.
- Sebastian Valle: Top catching prospect in Phils organization, he is only 19 and is showing controlled approach at the plate with power. Still working on his defense.
- Antonio Bastardo: Physically small left-hander that has a great changeup. Appears to be ready for the big leagues.
The general trend here seems to be of young players that have put up some interesting numbers in low minors, but could be derailed at any moment against tougher competition. There are at least 10 of these type of guys leading the list of “prospects”, none seemingly with an exceptional skill to separate themselves as a probable major league impact player.
Still there might be some mix of talent that can be put together that could entice the Pads to part with Bell.
Stay tuned, because there will likely be more teams needing Bell’s fastball, hard breaking ball, and guts to shore up the back end of their pens.