Despite their obvious needs, the Phillies will likely remain on the sidelines when the trading deadline approaches simply because they have so little to offer other clubs and because the commodity they most desperately seek, relief pitching, is in particularly short supply. Despite this state of affairs, something tells me GM Pat Gillick has already drawn up one or two moves and is simply waiting for willing partners to emerge.
Aaron Rowand appears to be the prime subject of trade speculation for a number of reasons, not the least of which is his impending free agency and his productive season at the plate thus far. Rowand is generally considered one of the better fielders at his position, a reputation based as much on his fearlessness as actual ability. Readers of this space know I take a somewhat jaundiced view of Rowand's route to fly balls, his arm and his penchant for playing shallow. Defense aside, and his is certainly above average, he hasn't hurt his chances to cash in by currently hitting more than twenty points above his career average of .283.
So, the Phillies face the classic dilemma with a player about to enter the free agent market: try and re-sign him now or trade him while he is still under contract and his value is high. In Rowand's case the dilemma is further compounded by the overall unproven or diminished (Pat Burrell) quality of the remaining outfielders. Michael Bourn may mature into a major league hitter but it is hard to predict at this stage. His fielding and base-running are superb. Shane Victorino is one of the most exciting players to come along in quite some time and should be a decent hitter, great fielder and excellent albeit occasionally reckless baserunner for years to come if he doesn't wear himself out by jumping into the stands or crashing into walls. Burrell is playing out the string and would be candidate numero uno to depart in July were it not for his enormous salary and no-trade clause. No one else throughout the organization is even close to contributing.
With pitching - starting and relief - third base and the outfield still huge question marks, the Phillies can ill-afford to give up their most proven commodity among the latter. In sum, the Phils should make an all-out effort to re-sign Rowand or face yet another hole to fill in the immediate future.