For the third consecutive season, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made a blockbuster acquisition on July 29. On July 29 of the 2009 season, Amaro acquired Cliff Lee; he followed that up in 2010 by acquiring Roy Oswalt. Now in 2011, Amaro acquired Houston Astros right fielder Hunter Pence.
The acquisitions made by Amaro in his time as the Phillies’ general manager makes him one of the best in the game (if not the best). Amaro acquired Lee (and later acquired him again as a free agent), Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and now Pence. Phillies fans should be excited about this acquisition for two reasons: first of all, Pence is an excellent talent in right field; secondly, the Phillies acquired Pence without trading Vance Worley or Domonic Brown. In exchange for Pence, the Astros acquired RHP Jarred Cosart, RHP Josh Zeid, 1B/OF Jonathan Singleton and a player to be named later.
The 24 year-old Zeid is struggling this season with the Reading Phillies (AA) of the Eastern League. Zeid currently has a 2-3 record with a 5.65 ERA in 21 games (16 starts). The 21 year-old Cosart has tremendous upside and has solid numbers with the Clearwater Threshers (A) of the Florida State League. Cosart is 9-8 with a 3.92 ERA.
Although Zeid and Cosart have unspectacular numbers in the minors, perhaps the best prospect in this deal is Singleton. Singleton currently has a .282 AVG, nine home runs and 47 RBIs in 92 games with the Threshers. While such numbers in Clearwater may not sound very impressive, fans must remember that Singleton is only 19 years of age. Aside from Brown, Singleton was widely regarded as the Phillies’ top hitting prospect, and very well may have been the centerpiece of the Pence trade. In addition to his tremendous potential as a hitter, Singleton has versatility as he can play first base and outfield. If the Astros still have Brett Wallace at first base in several years, then Singleton may end up being Pence’s replacement in the outfield in the future.
This blockbuster trade can greatly help both teams. For the Astros, this trade holds potential and promise for the future. For the Phillies, this trade means a greatly-improved chance at winning the 2011 World Series and beyond. Pence is 28 years of age and is in the prime of his career. The acquisition of Pence should make fans forget about the loss of Jayson Werth (who is struggling mightily with the Washington Nationals this season).
A career .290 hitter, Pence has the ability to hit for average and power. He can also play good defense in the outfield and run the bases. For his career, Pence averages 25 home runs and 90 RBIs per 162 games. Pence should be able to post similar – if not better – numbers in the Phillies lineup. Unlike most Phillies hitters, Pence also has the ability to hit left-handed pitching well. In addition to being a career .290 hitter, Pence currently has a career .290 AVG against right-handed and left-handed pitching.
Amaro’s ability to make blockbuster deals while holding on to key players and top prospects (Brown and Worley) make him perhaps the best general manager in baseball right now. Regardless of the potential scouts may see in Cosart and Zeid, there is no need for them in the Phillies’ system when they already have Halladay, Lee, Cole Hamels, Oswalt and Worley in the rotation. Singleton likely would never have seen MLB time with the Phillies, as they plan to have Brown be a major fixture in their lineup in the future; furthermore, first baseman Ryan Howard is locked in with a long-term contract.
Amaro has done an excellent job of making the Phillies contenders for now and in the near future. Eventually, the Phillies will have to make plans for the future at shortstop and third base; however, the rest of their lineup appears to be set in stone for the next 3-5 years. While trading away prospects can be risky business, Amaro has made all the right moves thus far and has the Phillies in position to contend for years.