As violent storms continue to blow through the Philadelphia area, the Phillies continue to blow. One Phillies player who has not blown - any saves, that is - could find himself on the trade block when Phillies management starts to face the reality that the Phillies are not good enough to contend for the 2013 playoffs. Already, reports are matching Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon with other teams.
Papelbon, most recently appearing in the role of mop-up reliever in the eighth inning of a 9-1 Phillies loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, is doing the Phillies no good. Jose Valverde, sitting at home without a job until after the season began, is doing the Tigers no good either. Valverde has a 4.15 ERA and blew last night's 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals. Valverde has blown three saves and saved nine since making his Tigers debut (after not re-signing him initially) on April 24.
ESPN's Buster Olney talked to a "rival executive" who thinks that the Phillies and Tigers might be a match:
The guy he thinks is the perfect fit for the Tigers is Jonathan Papelbon, the Phillies’ closer, who has pitched effectively in the midst of a lot of frustration for Philadelphia. In 22 outings, he’s got 11 saves, and only three walks and 20 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings, with a 1.59 ERA. There are no questions about whether he could handle October, given his 18 innings and 1.00 ERA in the postseason.
Olney does not believe that Papelbon's salary will be an issue as the Tigers "have demonstrated a willingness to do everything possible to win a title."
The Phillies have money, too. That will not be the issue. More importantly is what the Phillies could get in return. Just last night our Greg Vince, a sharp baseball mind, suggested the following:
@frankklose Pap for Castellanos. Let's do it!— Gregory L. Vince (@GregVince) June 12, 2013
Who is this Castellanos? That would be Nick Castellanos, a prospect in the Tigers system. Once the heir apparent to Brandon Inge at third base, he has taken a detour since the Tigers signed Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera went back to third base. In recent days, Castellanos was converted to the outfield.
Check out this blurb from CBS Sports:
Tigers outfield prospect Nick Castellanos is hitting .360 in his last 33 games for Triple-A Toledo and leads the league with 45 runs scored. Castellanos was considered one of the club's top prospects at the beginning of the year. He has yet to make his major-league debut.
He's hitting .295/.370/.488 in 258 at-bats.
The Tigers resisted using Castellanos at third base this Spring Trianing while Miguel Cabrera was in the World Baseball Classic. He began playing outfield in the Arizona Fall League this past offseason.
Whether he plays third base or left field, Castellanos could make a lot of sense for the Phillies. He is a much-needed right-handed bat. If the Phillies acquired him now, he could finish the year in the outfield and then spend the offseason and Spring Training preparing to return to third base for the Phillies next season. Or, if the Phillies feel Cody Asche is either good enough or sufficient to play third base until Maikel Franco arrives, the Phillies certainly have room in their outfield.
As for Papelbon, the Phillies really have no heir apparent to close. The Phillies have needed a closer just 11 times in 66 games. Since most Phillies games (yes, most) do not require a closer, it really does not matter for the rest of 2013. Throw Justin De Fratus, Michael Stutes, or even current AAA closer Jake Diekman out in the ninth. The Phillies can rebuild their bullpen later along with the rest of their team, and Castellanos would be a great start.