In the aftermath of a disappointing if not final blow to the Phillies’ season in Houston, the gloomy reality sets in. The Phillies are 3 1/2 games back, but with October rapidly approaching and four teams in front of them with 14 to play, it seems just too much to overcome.
Over the past month, the Phillies have shown a lot of positive signs that point to a turnaround rather than a continued downswing in 2013 and beyond. The emergence of young arms in the bullpen—especially Phillippe Aumont and Justin De Fratus—coupled with good competition among guys like Josh Lindblom and Michael Stutes gives the Phillies the ability to minimally address the bullpen in the offseason.
In the outfield, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry, and even Juan Pierre have shown signs of being effective options going forward, though it is likely the Phillies will add another outfielder with a bit more pedigree in the offseason.
The big question mark moving forward however, will be third base, where the solution is cloudy at best. Sure, the Phillies are trying to transform Chase Utley into their third baseman, but that still is a long shot at this point. Though Kevin Frandsen is a nice story and a guy who has earned an opportunity next season with his impressive performance, most would agree he is not the answer to the Phillies long-term problem at the position.
So if neither Frandsen nor Utley are your opening day third baseman, who is? Ruben Amaro Jr will face his maybe his biggest challenge yet with this decision, and the solution will likely have to be an out of the box idea. An idea that is risky, yet impactful enough to change the shape of this team moving forward. The Phillies third base situation has been patchwork for years, and it is time to solve it. The answer? Well, here’s an idea: Troy Tulowitzki.
Recent reports out of Colorado have had the Rockies at least entertaining the idea to move Tulowitzki, while looking to get back some cheap pieces to solve their many problems on what is a very bad baseball team. The price would likely be high, but it may be one worth paying. Tulowitzki, a career Gold Glove shortstop, could flawlessly make the transition to third, much like his idol Cal Ripken once did. Tulowitzki would bring stellar defense, but also a high baseball IQ and motor with him to Philly. Moving to a contender would no doubt give him a positive change of scenery too.
His bat is all-around world class, with power and average from the right side. His 2012 season has been injury filled, but in 2011 he played 143 games batting with a line of .302 AVG/.372 OBP/.544 SLG. He also had 30 home runs and 105 RBIs. Tulowitzki’s one issue has always been staying healthy, but seeing as he’s a top ten talent in baseball when healthy, I would be going hard after him if he is in fact available.
This offseason will be a big test for an aggressive general manager in Amaro, who will have to weigh whether to pay a hefty price for a 3rd baseman via trade with taking the cheap route in Frandsen. Sure, a Tulowitzki package would cost you someone like pitching prospect Jesse Biddle and more, but the championship window is closing and the Phillies are still close. Tulowitzki is only 27, but under control at a hefty price (6 yrs/$118M). The price of the contract would likely be partially eaten by the Rockies, especially if the Phillies gave up a large prospect ransom in return.
This could be another flip Cliff Lee for prospects, flip them to Colorado deal too: It would give the Phillies financial flexibility if they aren’t comfortable adding another $100-plus million contract to their team.
I’m not saying this is a likely scenario or that it would be easy to construct, but this is a risk worth taking.