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Wilton Lopez Deal Falls Through, But Phillies Have Other Options

The Wilton Lopez trade has all but officially fallen through, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, but that doesn’t mean the Phillies should bail on their effort to prop up the bullpen that for a majority of last season was baseball’s worst.

That said, another Lopez will be hard to find. Last year, the 29-year-old stuck a 2.17 ERA and 54 strikeouts in 66.1 innings pitched, and led the sport in strikeout-to-walk ratio for his age and work load (65 IP) with a 6.75 – and did it for years.

Free agency is likely too costly an option, with $20-plus million deals for Jonathan Broxton and Brandon League not only inflating the market but removing the few worthwhile assets. Then there’s that thing about Amaro already committing four years and $50 million to Jonathan Papelbon, who now commands a bit of their relief pitching budget.

(Listen to ESPN Baseball writer Jerry Crasnick on the Sports Bash talk about the Phillies hot stove options)

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While more difficult to swing,  another trade seems the more attractive option. Targets should include David Hernandez of the Diamondbacks and Glen Perkins of the Twins, both of whom should be considered comps for their age, owning team and resumes.

The team has also had reported fondness for Mike Adams of the Rangers and Brandon Lyon of the Blue Jays, but those two have marked drawbacks.

Hernandez, 27, had a career-low 2.50 ERA in 2012. He’s improved there in each of his four big-league seasons. More important, he brings skills the Phillies surely liked in Lopez: control. Hernandez 4.45 strikeout-to-walk ratio isn’t quite Lopez’— no one’s is — but considering his age and record of improvement, there’s obvious upside here. Plus, with a three-year, $3.75 million deal through 2014 and arbitration eligibility in 2015, he’s under team control through 2016 — and for cheap.

Perkins, 29, has been shaky over the years, but is still worth looking into. He’s struggled in the past — he posted an ERA over 5.00 in 2009 and 2010 — but has had two straight sub-3.00 ERA seasons since, and in 2012 upped his strikeout-to-walk ratio to 4.88. At $2.5 million in 2013 up to $4.5 million in 2016, when he’ll be 33, Perkins is more expensive. But considering the need, he may be worth it.

Most importantly, both players’ clubs, like the Astros, are going nowhere fast and would be inclined to mortgage the present for the future.

The case for Adams, 34 and Lyon, 33, is tough to make. Adams’ team was the 2010 and 2011 AL World Series representatives and wants to get back. Lyon’s basically bought the Marlins. Both are older (which makes the discussion of control pretty moot). What’s more, Adams’ strikeout-to-walk ratio halved between 2011 and 2012 (age showing?) and Lyon as recently as 2011 posted an ERA over 11.00 (yikes!). Pass, please.

Other names include Luke Gregerson of the Padres, Vinnie Pestano of the Indians and Bobby Parnell of the Mets, solely for their favorable ERAs. Nothing wrong with that, but then again, there’s nothing wrong with being picky, either — especially given the variety of the team’s other needs.

It’s important to remember what put the Phillies in the market in the first place: not only their eighth innings overall — their 4.89 team ERA ranked second-to-worst in baseball to, ironically, Lopez’ Astros — but Phillippe Aumont’s performance in them in particular.

After showing some promise in his first few outings, two years after being the centerpiece in the Cliff Lee-to-Seattle deal, Aumont stumbled, finishing with a 5.06 ERA in September, particularly for again, irony) his two, two-earned run outings in the series that cost the Phillies a shot at the playoffs, in Houston.

Here’s to hoping the Phillies can do better, however they can.

 

 

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