Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Pennsylvania's Loss is California's Gain

Yesterday saw an exodus of Pennsylvania athletes to California. Shane Victorino was traded to Los Angeles, Hunter Pence to San Francisco, and Penn State running back Silas Redd transferred to USC. None of the moves came as a particular surprise, but it feels strange nonetheless, especially Shane not donning the red pinstripes anymore.

The trade of Victorino could be seen coming from a mile away. He is getting older, he is not having a particularly great season, and he is a free agent at the end of the season. As the Phils season continued its downward spiral, it became clear that the best thing the club could do at the moment would be to shed salary, try to restock the farm system, and try to get younger. Shane was one of the most obvious pieces with which to attempt to achieve those goals.

I've always liked Shaner, and it's sad to see him go. He's been one of the main cogs of the Phillies' amazing run since 2007. I loved his fiery attitude, even when I was occasionally frustrated with him not making the smartest baseball plays from time to time. He played an integral role in the best era of Phillies baseball in their long history, and he was also extremely active in the community. Thanks for everything Shaner, on and off the field.

Hunter Pence was another obvious trade candidate, and honestly I'm glad that the Phillies moved him. He won me over when he arrived with his attitude and his hustle. But overall his short time in Philly was a disaster, because he was brought in to be the right-handed bat that would balance the lineup and propel the Phils to another championship. As we all know, that didn't materialize, and now the Phillies are in last place. This season Hunter has struck out too many times for my taste, and has had too many misadventures in right field. With the team going nowhere this season, it's definitely the right move to ship him out and rid yourself of his salary.

And finally Silas Redd, Penn State's leading rusher last season, announced he was transferring to USC. Again, no real surprise here. I have to admit I'm conflicted on this. The emotional fan side of me wants to be bitter and call him a coward and a turncoat for bailing on his team and his school when times got bad. But for once in my life I will go with my logical, rational side. Silas had to do what he felt was best for him and for his career. He gets to go to USC and compete for a national championship. He felt this was the best thing for him right now. Silas, I'm disappointed and I would have loved to see you finish your college career in blue and white, but good luck out in Cali.

While the Phillies' moves where underwhelming, while it's hard to accept them being sellers when for so many years they've been buyers, and while it's hard to watch Shaner go and it would have been nice to see Pence get a little more time to make things work out here, Ruben Amaro Jr. did the right thing. He cut salary where he could, giving the Phillies at least a little bit of flexibility in that department heading into next season. He got a relief arm, Josh Lindblom, who although I don't know much about him, has decent numbers this season (2-2, 3.02 ERA, 15 holds). And he got a few prospects, the most promising of which is Tommy Joseph, the #2 ranked prospect in the Giants' system.

You would assume that John Mayberry Jr. will get the majority of starts in CF the remainder of the season giving the Phillies a perhaps final chance to see what he can offer as an everyday player. And I hope that they give Dom Brown the majority of the starts in RF, again to gauge if he can be the type of player that we all hope he can, or if it's time to cut ties with him. They still have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, still have Chooch, and hopefully will start next season with a healthy Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Amaro Jr. did what he could to put the Phils in a position to treat this season as a hiccup, and to get back to being the Phillies we've had the pleasure of watching for the past five years.

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