Mar. 12, 2012; Mesa, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) swings at a pitch during the third inning against the Chicago Cubs at HoHoKam Park. Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

How to Craft a Roster: The Value of @DatDudeBP

I wrote a blog a couple of days ago reviewing the performance of the Reds starters over the past week. regular beeker commented following the post on a rumor I have been thinking about for a few days since the story first reared its ugly head.  Now this evening I read a post from our own Senior Editor Steve Engbloom detailing the rumor progression.  I hate to give tales of this sort legs but I am unable to let this one pass by.  In the rumor, the Phillies would trade SP Cole Hamels for 2B Brandon Phillips.  Would this move benefit the Reds?  Let’s break it down.

Phillies second baseman Chase Utley appears to have reached his expiration date a bit earlier than the Philadelphia front off expected.  From 2005-2009 Utley defined offensive excellence as the second baseman for the Phillies.  Compare his statistical line to the last 5 years for Brandon Phillips of the Cincinnati Reds and Robinson Cano of the New York Yankees and Utley’s own regression and you realize just how dominant Utley was.  This table will demonstrate how injuries have damaged Utley in 2010 and 2011.

Best Players Age Years (5) AB/year BA Runs RBI OPS oWAR dWAR
Chase Utley 33 2005-2009 582 .301 553 507 .922 27.8 4.6
Robinson Cano 29 2007-2011 620 .304 473 481 .846 19.9 2.7
Brandon Phillips 30 2007-2011 606 .280 459 411 .784 12.8 -1.1
Dan Uggla 32 2007-2011 583 .252 482 457 .826 18.4 -5.0
Chase Utley 33 2007-2011 506 .290 458 409 .889 24.8 3.9

The Phillies are entering another season facing health concerns with Utley and understand their vulnerability both offensively and defensively.  Brandon is ahead of his competition in the division that the Reds have a clear competitive advantage though with an added year of experience this gap could narrow.  Aside from Phillips, Pirates second baseman Neil Walker bears observation as he appears to be the most competitive of this group.

NL Central Age Years AB/year BA Runs RBI OPS oWAR dWAR
Rickie Weeks 28 2007-2011 427 .255 393 238 .805 15 -4.1
Skip Schumaker 32 2007-2011 418 .293 291 180 .731 6.1 -0.9
Neil Walker 26 2010-2011 511 .283 133 149 .771 5.3 -1.2
Darwin Barney 26 2011 571 .276 66 43 .656 0.9 0.1
Jose Altuve 21 2011 221 .276 26 12 .654 0.2 0.1

The problem is this.  If the Reds would agree to trade Brandon Phillips for Cole Hamels the rotation would become Johnny Cueto, Hamels, Mat Latos, Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake.  Leake would compete to maintain his position with Homer Bailey, Jeff Francis, Aroldis Chapman and Brett Tomko.  Hamels will be a free agent in 2013.  His $15 million dollar salary is going to grow significantly.  Given his age and skill it will in the neighborhood of 150 million dollars to pay for his services over 7-8 years or a comparable salary.  Roy Halliday is 34 and Cliff Lee is 32 so trading away the best starter they control who is under 30 years of age (27) is a prohibitive risk but without a quality second baseman they will struggle to win anyway.

As for the Reds, they have Didi Gregorius as a potential callup or Wilson Valdez/Miguel Cairo who could fill in.  If this team wants to win in 2012 as their player acquisitions this off season would indicate, this move would likely derail the championship drive.  It would be expensive for the Reds to finally sign Brandon long term; rumors suggest he is looking for a contract resembling the $62 million dollar/5 year deal Dan Uggla has, but at least it is a manageable deal for an everyday player unlike the monstrosity that Hamel will command.  Even if the Reds expect their long term future will be in Billy Hamilton‘s hands they must remain competitive until he is ready.  Hamels may have a better long term future in baseball it would not be in Cincinnati given financial realities with or without Joey Votto.  The only way it could work would be to include Bronson Arroyo and his silly contract in the deal and there is not a GM in baseball that would take on that deal.

In the end, I see that Mark Sheldon posted this tweet this morning putting to rest the whole foolish idea.

Follow me on Twitter @JohnHeitz

Tags: Aroldis Chapman Billy Hamilton Brandon Phillips Brett Tomko Bronson Arroyo Chase Utley Cincinnati Reds Cliff Lee Cole Hamels Dan Uggla Darwin Barney Didi Gregorius Homer Bailey Jeff Francis Joey Votto Johnny Cueto Jose Altuve Mark Sheldon Mat Latos Miguel Cairo Mike Leake Neil Walker Rickie Weeks Robinson Cano Skip Schumaker Wilson Valdez

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