With Oswalt trade looming, should Braves worry about Philly?

Roy Oswalt has mad skills: He can pitch and blow a bubble at the same time.

Mad skills: Roy Oswalt can pitch and blow a bubble at same time.

If you’re a Braves’ fan, this would be a good time to pull for anybody other than Philadelphia in the Roy Oswalt trade sweepstakes.

While the Braves have gone through a relatively magical run this season, with unlikely subplots like Brooks “The Big Bambino” Conrad, it figured to be only a matter of time before the Philadelphia Phillies re-emerged as a factor in the National League East. And here they are.

The Phillies have won four straight to trim two games off the Braves’ division lead (down to five). That’s of some concern. But these are the bigger issues:

♦ The Phillies have struggled all year with injuries, most notably to shortstop and leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins and shortstop Chase Utley. Rollins has missed over half the season (playing in 42 of Philly’s 98 games), but he is 9 for 21 (.429) in the past five games. Utley was 18 for 49 (.367) over 13 games before he had to go back on the disabled list after thumb surgery. He likely is out at least another month.

♦ Many expect the Phillies to be players before Saturday’s trade deadline. Philly must know now that they botched it in the winter when they traded starting pitcher Cliff Lee (acquired last July from Cleveland) to Seattle. (Lee was traded again two weeks ago to Texas.) They need a starting pitcher. Houston’s Roy Oswalt is the most likely candidate.

Former AJC comrade Joe Strauss, now of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, is reporting the Cardinals are unlikely to acquire Oswalt, who had made it no secret that the Cards were his first choice. That may leave Philly as the most likely buyer.

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, scouts from Houston and Tampa Bay both were in attendance at the Phils’ game against Colorado Sunday. Philly is said to be dangling Jason Werth in any potential deal.

If the Phillies get Oswalt, they’ll have Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Oswalt at the top of their pitching rotation. That’s pretty sick.

Combine that with Rollins and Utley coming around, and Philly could again look like the team that has won three straight National League East titles.

So what’s your level of concern? Should this increase the pressure on Braves general manager Frank Wren to make a deal, and if the Phils get Oswalt, do you think that gives them a leg (or arm) up in the division race?

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318 comments Add your comment

gsk

July 26th, 2010
10:24 am

Last time I checked (today) Utley has been on the 15 day DL since 7/19.

ajsilk

July 26th, 2010
10:25 am

we just need a CF and we’ll be fine

GADAWG88

July 26th, 2010
10:26 am

Flocka

July 26th, 2010
10:26 am

Jeff, Come on man Utley hasn’t played in a long time dude and is still weeks away

PMC

July 26th, 2010
10:26 am

If it happens the Braves will be forced to make a trade for an outfielder with some pop I think. Then again will the Phillies weaken themselves by also trading Jason Werth?

Jt

July 26th, 2010
10:28 am

Definitely concerned about the Phils, Jeff. But the last thing Wren needs to do is a move based on a level of concern just below panic. Any move that reduces Diaz’s, Kinske’s, or even Melky’s playing time better be damn good. The only move would be a major upgrade in centerfield over a current platoon of Melky and Blanco (yes, it’s time for Nate to sit). So, who is that going to be? Cody Ross? Dejesus? I just do not see it. A couple of timely hits on Friday and Sunday and it would have been a Braves sweep and the Phils would still eb 7 back. I hope Wren errs on the side of caution

ForsythDawg

July 26th, 2010
10:28 am

I think that if we can add another bat in CF, we’ll be able to handle the Phils – whether or not they pick up Oswalt.

Sil Campusano

July 26th, 2010
10:28 am

Utley hasn’t been playing. He’s out until September. Have editors been laid off at every newspaper in the world?

Tale of Woe

July 26th, 2010
10:28 am

Could we turn around and surprise Philly with a trade for Werth? Ha – that would be awesome.

I think JS meant to say Placido Polanco instead of Utley

Jt

July 26th, 2010
10:28 am

Hinske-not Kinske

Braves95WS

July 26th, 2010
10:29 am

Braves must upgrade at the CF position! Jeff, who do you think some of those possibilities are? I don’t think Cody Ross is much of an upgrade. I am thinking the Braves should make a run at BJ Upton. I think he just needs a change in scenery.

Tale of Woe

July 26th, 2010
10:29 am

I still think we are going to do something about McLouth before the week is out.

Worm

July 26th, 2010
10:29 am

Phillies will overtake the Braves anyway..Glaus is at 252, Heyward’s #’s will go down and Chipper will be injured..And there’s that centerfield thing..Where’s Mack Jones?

Fed Up With Wren (Again)

July 26th, 2010
10:29 am

Will Frank be allowed to make a deal that adds payroll? I don’t see where there is much payroll to trade away, nobody is taking McLouth or Kawakami right now.

Anthony

July 26th, 2010
10:30 am

Uhh…Chase Utley is NOT back. Not remotely…not even close. Chase Utley has not played since June 28th…and won’t be back for four more weeks at least. Yet you have him not only back, but hot? With numbers (18 for 39 [.467] over 13 games) to support it? Wow…impressively detailed delusion.

What makes the Phillies a bit of a concern is that Rollins, Werth and Ibanez have started to hit the last few days, and Howard has been hot since the All Star Break. And it was their offense that’s been holding them back thus far. The other concern is, the Braves are due to go through a cold stretch at some point. They’ve been so hot for so long, it can’t last forever. If they have a mediocre couple of weeks right when the Phillies start getting it together, a 7-game lead could become 2 or 3 games really quick.

Josh

July 26th, 2010
10:31 am

“Philly is said to be dangling Jason Werth in any potential deal.” That’s a huge part of this that people are largely ignoring. Jayson Werth has been critical to the Phillies. I’d rather the Phillies have Oswalt and no Jayson Werth than Jayson Werth and no Oswalt. He’ll leave behind a huge hole in their lineup if they get rid of him.

T-Bone

July 26th, 2010
10:31 am

If the Braves get a right-handed bat for left field, then they will be fine. Oswalt really has not been impressive this year; for that matter, neither has Cole Hamels. I still like the Braves rotation better.

Jfreak13713

July 26th, 2010
10:32 am

I think the Braves starting pitching can hold off Philly, but if the Braves finish with the best record in the NL they would then have to face Philly as Wildcard in playoffs!!!

The Braves can use a bat as everyone knows and I like the idea of Cody Ross from the Marlins but I’d hate to lose Medlen. Who would be our fifth stater?

Keith

July 26th, 2010
10:34 am

Braves better be concerned about the Phils! They will be right there when the regular season is almost over. They are beginning to be reliable front runners again. It is going to be real close at the end of the season. Only 3 to 4 games difference between the Phils, Mets, and Braves!

Najeh Davenpoop

July 26th, 2010
10:34 am

Also, the Phillies got Roy Halladay in the Cliff Lee deal. I don’t think they are regretting that one all that much.

ajsilk

July 26th, 2010
10:34 am

@Jfreak Not true. MLB rules are that teams within the same division cannot face each other in the Division Series

Daniels Dawgs

July 26th, 2010
10:34 am

I thought Utley was still on the DL, that is pretty impressive going 18 for 39 (.367) in the past 13 games while on the DL. I know he is good but not that good!!!!!

Chpatt

July 26th, 2010
10:35 am

Schultz…Utley hasn’t played since June 28th, so no he isn’t rolling. good grief get your facts right. Im aiming to be a sports writer and I know more then you.

I do not think ATL should be worried bc the only way they are getting Oswalt is if they deal Werth. If that happens, then Philly weakens their offense by losing 13 HR and 52 RBI as well as PROTECTION for Ryan Howard. Without protection, Howard will see less pitches to hit. Their lineup will be diminished severely if they trade Werth. The guy hit .268 last year and he’s hitting .286 right now and they want to trade him. Phillies fans are just dumb. The guy has a .380 OBP and a .506 slugging. I’ll take that from a corner outfielder.

One more thing Schultz, Oswalt has a no-trade clause and wants the 16 million dollar option for 2012 if he goes to the phillies, so I’m not so sure Philly is the favorite to have him right now. Either someone else jumps in or he stays put is my guess.

Jeff Schultz

July 26th, 2010
10:39 am

Folks — Apologies on the Utley thing. Realized shortly after I posted it that he had gone back on the disabled list with the thumb surgery. Mind melt. It’s been fixed. Thanks, JS

jerry

July 26th, 2010
10:43 am

Give the Braves a weak division and they will florish. But they will never play one upsmanship with a strong team. Too damn tight or too poor, take your choice.

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Jeff Schultz

July 26th, 2010
10:44 am

Tale of Woe — I know everybody wants to deal McLouth, and that’s completely understandable. I just don’t know how Braves are going to get anybody to pick up the contract, given his lack of production. He signed a 3-year/$15.75 deal with a 2012 option. His remaining numbers: 2010 (remaining portion of $4.5 million), 2011 ($6.5 million), 2012 ($10.65 million option, or $1.25 million buyout). So any team taking him is committing to at least $7.75 million next season (salary plus 2010 buyout).

BoroBall3

July 26th, 2010
10:45 am

Normally I would say no, the Braves should not be worrying, but the Phillies see an opening here, esp. since they are on a good winning streak, have picked up two games on the Braves this week AND have a seemingly bottomless pit of money to spend. I think the next couple of games will determine the Braves next moves… if any at all.

Chpatt

July 26th, 2010
10:47 am

Demote McLouth is the only option as far as i’m concerned for the rest of the year, or at least until September Call-ups. Maybe a demotion will give him a sense of urgency

Jeremy

July 26th, 2010
10:53 am

I’m more worried about Jesse Chavez continuing to be in our bullpen. Any chance he could be sent down or sent somewhere else?

Jeff Schultz

July 26th, 2010
10:56 am

Chpatt (aspiring sportswriter) — Thanks, I’m aware of the no-trade clause and his option in 2012. No-trade clauses are waived all the time, particularly by players who want to go to a contender. The option is a different story — Oswalt went against the norm when he said was willing to renegotiate that if he went to St. Louis (can’t imagine the MLBPA was thrilled). As for Phillies, the biggest issue may be what they have (or are willing) to trade. They’re not dealing prospect Domonic Brown (from Stone Mountain).

Karl Hungus

July 26th, 2010
10:56 am

@jfreak Philly is currently fourth in the wild card standings, 3.5 games back. If the season ended today, the first round would be ATL-SF and SD-STL.

Clay

July 26th, 2010
10:58 am

If Bobby keeps trotting out Mclouth and Jesse Chavez, it doesn’t matter who the Phillies or we get . . .

Bobby Cox is apparently the only one who doesn’t see that Chavez is terrible, and Nate (this year) is right on his heels.

Chpatt

July 26th, 2010
11:00 am

Agreed Scultz. Their system doesn’t have much value in it other than Brown. Whether or not Oswalt goes to the phillies, I hope Wren goes out and gets somebody with power (Corey Hart?). Apparently Frank won’t give up any of the young arms in the minors, but what about Mike Dunn?? We already have Venters and Kimbrel for the future. Dunn seems expendable. What do you think?

Pi$$onaDawg

July 26th, 2010
11:00 am

Pitching hurt the Braves this weekend as much as anything.

Ramblin Wrecker

July 26th, 2010
11:01 am

I’ve been saying all along that the Braves should be the ones trading for Roy Oswalt. Remember back in 1996 when the Braves acquired Denny Neagle? They already had Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz. But they decided to double down on their biggest strength which at the same time prevented one of their potential postseaon opponents from getting better. There are no obvious solutions to the Braves lack of OF offensive production. None that would be such an upgrade that it would be worth losing a top prospect over. But Oswalt is a different story. He would represent an upgrade in the starting rotation over Kris Medlen, and that would in turn strengthen the bullpen by returning Medlen to his setup role. Wouldn’t going to a playoff series and running out Hudson, Oswalt, Jurrjens & Hanson sound better than Hudson, Jurrjens, Hanson & Lowe? Because you know Lowe would be the 4th starter in the playoffs over Medlen. Not to mention that preventing Philly from getting him (or St. Louis or whoever) would widen the competitive gap and help keep the Phillies down.

As for the money part of it, we know Oswalt comes with a high price tag. But if Frank Wren knows Chipper Jones will retire, he’s got $13m next season coming off the books to offset Oswalt’s 2011 salary. Plus the better the package you send Houston, the more money you can get Houston to pay of Oswalt’s salary. Maybe they’d have interest in taking someone like Kawakami or McLouth, plus prospects rather than just simply paying some of Oswalt’s salary. Who knows?

If Wren is not considering this, he’s not doing his job. I’m sure he has.

Techman

July 26th, 2010
11:02 am

I am worried about them but only because the braves are cooling off just a bit. At the same time, the braves are doing exactly what they try to do, which is win series, last one excluded.

You have to figure the Phillies will start hitting again soon. I would be a little worried if they picked up Oswalt.

Pi$$onaDawg

July 26th, 2010
11:02 am

My fortune cookie says “I am Sociable and Entertaining.” Boy they don’t me for sure.

Clay

July 26th, 2010
11:05 am

Mike Minor could be our 5th starter is we move Medlen.

Clay

July 26th, 2010
11:05 am

Timely hitting this weekend was worse than the pitching.

Jeff Schultz

July 26th, 2010
11:05 am

Jeremy — Can’t imagine Jesse Chavez is long for the roster. He’s a much easier problem to get rid of than McLouth (contract).

Jeff Schultz

July 26th, 2010
11:07 am

Mr. Obvious — Actually, did you see the Verizon Center (Wash.) report? That was the worst — like a crawling roach motel.

Let's Go Bravos!

July 26th, 2010
11:08 am

I would rather Philly get Oswalt than St. Louis. We’ve got to think playoffs here. The Phils are going to have a hard time catching the Braves unless the Braves just fall apart. They have been playing at about .530 ball this compared to the Braves .582. If the Braves keep playing at that %, then the Phils will have to play above .600 ball to overtake us. I like our chances to win the division but when we get to the playoffs, I’d hate to run into St. Louis if they have Oswalt, Carpenter, Wainwright, and that good rookie.

Clay

July 26th, 2010
11:13 am

I think you can throw those percentages in the can, Bravos!, the Braves are 5-5 since the All Star game.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

July 26th, 2010
11:15 am

braves should be concerned, they let 2 crucial games against the fish to get away from us. i felt safer when we had a 7 game lead, 5 gets things a little closer.

BoroBall3

July 26th, 2010
11:15 am

Jesse Chavez still has options to be sent to AAA as well… he’s an easy solution

Walker, Texas Ranger

July 26th, 2010
11:18 am

Worm, good on Mack Jones. My first memory of a Braves game was Mack’s name being announced. Anyway, I would worry about the Phils even if they don’t get Oswalt. The Braves should cut McLousy, stick with a platoon in the OF and trade for Aramis Ramirez from the Cubs. Ramirez gives the Braves options at 3rd or 1st and insurance for next year. Not to mention at .361 average in July with 9 homers.

Jeff Schultz

July 26th, 2010
11:21 am

Chpatt — Dunn was a stud at Gwinnett before being called up (2-0, 1.05, 56 Ks in 42 2/3 inn.). Obviously has yet to prove anything in majors. I agree with your premise that pitching staff has been rebuilt and therefore pitching prospects should be more expendable but I know Wren has been very hesitant to deal one and I’d imagine Dunn’s stock is way up. Who knows, maybe they’re making decision on him during this call up.

Jeff Schultz

July 26th, 2010
11:22 am

Rambling Wrecker — Where are they going to fit Oswalt into the rotation (or payroll)? Need to dump Derek Lowe first but I doubt there’s any takes. Payroll’s already carrying Lowe and Kawakami.

Let's Go Bravos!

July 26th, 2010
11:22 am

You never can throw away percentages. That’s a lot of what this game is about. The Phils are a mess. The Braves have only lost 2 series in our last 22. We have a ton of home games in August and we get to play Houston (without Oswalt) and Pittsburgh again. If we can get Cody Ross or another Centerfielder that can hit a dang sac fly when the bases are loaded, then we shouldn’t worry too much.