Inside the Phillies: Phillies trades may prove to be costly

Posted: March 04, 2012

DUNEDIN, Fla. - Walk into Bright House Field or Citizens Bank Park on a game day and count the number of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee jerseys.

It's understandable that Phillies fans have fallen madly in love with the top two pitchers in manager Charlie Manuel's starting rotation. Counting their postseason appearances, they are a combined 70-31 with a 2.48 ERA when pitching for the Phillies.

Hunter Pence was also immensely popular after joining the team from Houston at the trade deadline last summer. The Phillies needed a rightfielder, and Pence gave them one who put up tremendous offensive numbers over the final two months of the season.

Easily forgotten is the price general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. paid for all that talent he has obtained in blockbuster trades.

The time to remember could be coming soon, and it appears as if Toronto Blue Jays catcher Travis d'Arnaud will be the first star player jarring memories.

"When we made that trade, there was a comment made that this one is going to be the one that is the most painful," assistant general manager Benny Looper said Sunday. "He's at a premium spot, because catching is hard to find and we liked him."

It was special assistant Charley Kerfeld who uttered the above words after the Phillies sent d'Arnaud, pitcher Kyle Drabek, and outfielder Michael Taylor to the Blue Jays for Halladay.

Initially, it was thought that Drabek would be the first in that group to become a star, but his first extended stay in the big leagues last season with the Blue Jays was an abject failure that only worsened when he was sent to triple-A Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, at double-A New Hampshire, d'Arnaud, 23, was coming into his own, batting .311 with 33 doubles, 21 home runs, and 78 RBIs. He won the Eastern League MVP and his team won the Eastern League title.

"That was my second [championship]," d'Arnaud said. "I also won one at Lakewood [the Phillies' South Atlantic League affiliate]. It was kind of weird because both of them, Anthony Gose and I were on the same team. Maybe we're both winners, who knows?"

Gose is another name Phillies fans should remember and soon may want to forget. He landed in Toronto as part of the three-team trade that brought Roy Oswalt to the Phillies from Houston at the 2010 trade deadline. Gose, a 21-year-old centerfielder, slugged 16 home runs and stole 70 bases.

At a time when Shane Victorino is a season away from free agency, it would have been nice to have a kid waiting in the wings at triple A with that kind of speed and power.

Gose said he remains close friends with Phillies minor-leaguers Anthony Hewitt and Zach Collier, outfielders taken ahead of him in the 2008 draft. While Gose is in big-league camp and about to make the jump to Toronto's triple-A team, Hewitt and Collier have not played above low-A ball and remain more suspect than prospects.

Gose described d'Arnaud as the "best catcher in the minor leagues," and Looper and the Phillies probably wouldn't argue with him.

There was a brief report in the Toronto Sun in late November that the Phillies had discussed ways to reacquire d'Arnaud, and Amaro did not deny that was true, saying that once you lose a player of that caliber, "you try to get him back."

"D'Arnaud is a hell of a catcher, and we didn't want to part with him, but we got the best pitcher in baseball for him," Amaro said. "We've talked about d'Arnaud because we've always liked him and we didn't stop liking him when we moved him. The same goes for guys like Gose and all the guys we moved in the Houston deals.

"There have been times when we've tried to get guys back in our organization, yeah. I think many of these guys stay in contact with people from the organization, and I've heard on more than one occasion that they really, really miss being with us. Somewhere down the line, when they become free agents, that may give us an opportunity."

Amaro believes that at some point Jonathan Singleton, Jared Cosart, and Domingo Santana - three of the players traded for Pence last year - also may emerge as quality big-league players.

"They don't know it yet in Houston, but they're good, like, really good," Amaro said.

Despite losing top minor-league talent to acquire top major-league talent, Amaro and Looper still feel as though the Phillies have a solid farm system.

The general manager also is convinced that the players he landed in the Lee trade with Seattle - Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and J.C. Ramirez - eventually will emerge as big-leaguers. Only Aumont appeared headed in the right direction at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, some of the minor-league talent Amaro traded away is on the cusp of becoming star major-league talent. The general manager knew that was going to happen when he made all those deals.


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com or @brookob on Twitter.

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