We have all seen the recent decline of our beloved Phillies. Ruben Amaro turned a perennial World Series contender into the worst team in baseball due to his relentless confidence that Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee and the rest of the gang would band together and give it one last shot. Not only did ownership finally acknowledge that the Phillies needed to rebuild, they decided Ruben Amaro was not the general manager to do it. Newly hired team president Andy MacPhail turned to the Angels front office to find his new general manager, Matt Klentak. Under Klentak’s direction, the Phillies have started the rebuild. Let’s see how he has done so far:
RHP Jeremy Hellickson acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks for RHP Sam McWilliams
For the Diamondbacks, this appears to be a salary dump, but the Phillies may have gotten their next midseason trade chip. Hellickson burst onto the scene in 2011, winning AL Rookie of the Year for the Tampa Bay Rays, and continued his progress into his sophomore campaign, sporting in ERA of 3.02 in his first two years in the big leagues.
Following those promising years, Hellickson has dramatically fallen off as his ERA ballooned to 4.77 in his last three years. Hellickson will be trying out for other clubs this year as he pitches for the Phillies. If the 28 year old can turn the clock back this season and post similar numbers to when he just came into the league, the Phillies could very easily flip the pitcher to a contender for some solid prospects, further padding their re-stocked farm system. This was not necessarily the glamour move that Phillies fans have been accustomed to seeing in the offseason, but Klentak deserves some praise for this under-the-radar acquisition.
Claimed CF Peter Bourjos off waivers from St. Louis Cardinals
Peter Bourjos, at one point, looked to be a cog in one of the better up and coming outfields in baseball back in 2011 when he played along Mike Trout with the Los Angeles Angels. Injuries and poor play have derailed his progress, sitting the bench as a fourth outfielder for the Cardinals this past year.
Klentak may have brought Bourjos in as a future trade asset, similar to Hellickson, however his insertion into the Phillies outfield may not be as seamless as Hellickson move into the rotation. The Phillies already have a crowded outfield with young guys like Aaron Altherr, Cody Asche, Odubel Herrera, and the recently acquired Tyler Goedell.
Granted, Bourjos is relatively young still at 28, and his defense is impressive. The centerfielder does have some upside and could be in Klentak’s long term plans, but if not, the “tryout and trade” approach could lead to some issues. To successfully complete a rebuild, the Phillies need to see who can play and who cannot. With Bourjos starting every day in centerfield, the young outfielders who are left out will lose the ability to grow and compete, which could greatly hinder the rebuild.
Selected Tyler Goeddel in the Rule 5 Draft
The Phillies selected first in the annual offseason Rule 5 draft, picking up Rays OF Tyler Goeddel. Baseball America had this to say about the 23 year old:
“Goeddel’s bat seemed to take off somewhat this year after he moved from third base to the outfield. He’s an athletic, if a little slight-framed righthanded hitter with a smooth swing who is above-average in the corners and playable in center field. Coming off a .279/.350/.433 season at Double-A, Goeddel is one of the more polished hitters available in this year’s Rule 5 draft.”
Goeddel probably does not project as a centerpiece when the Phillies return to prominence, yet he could be a nice piece to the puzzle. Remember, a little known Hawaiian OF named Shane Victorino was also selected in the Rule 5 draft during a previous Phillies rebuild.
Traded SS Jonathan Arauz and RHP Ken Giles to Houston Astros for LHP Brett Oberholtzer, RHP Harold Arauz, RHP Mark Appel, RHP Thomas Eshelman and RHP Vincent Velasquez.
This is the Klentak’s crown jewel of the offseason. Sure, Ken Giles projects as a dominant force in the back of the bullpen for years to come, but for a team that is comfortable with losing, why keep a talented closer when you can trade him to gain some much needed talent? Klentak realized this and jumped at the opportunity. For a guy they really did not need, the Phillies received some exciting prospects.
RHP Vincent Velasquez has the type of upside that could turn the rotation around, and he is not even the most intriguing player. That title goes to former number 1 overall pick, RHP Mark Appel. The former Stanford flamethrower has really disappointed in his first few leagues of professional baseball, however the Phillies are hoping that a change of scenery will help Appel realize his full potential and become the frontline ace that many thought he could be. The remaining three pitchers they acquired appear to be for depth, with LHP Brett Oberholtzer possibly snagging a back end of the rotation spot for this year.
Photo credit: Matt Rourke/AP