The acquisition of Hunter Pence has already had a positive impact on the Phillies' lineup. (Photo: phillysportslive.com)
Since becoming the General Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies back in November of 2008, Ruben Amaro Jr. has proven one thing; his only concern is on the immediate future.
Trades for Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt have taxed the Phillies’ farm system, sacrificing the team’s long term future for immediate success.
Last Friday’s trade for outfielder Hunter Pence was just another example of Amaro choosing “now” over “later,” trading away highly rated prospects Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton in a four-player package to Houston for Pence’s services. Just like the Lee trade in 2009 and the Oswalt trade in 2010, the Pence trade fell on the same day, July 29th.
But that’s not the only thing the three trades have in common. Just as Lee and Oswalt did upon being dealt to the Phils, Pence has instantly helped the team win since joining the team. On July 31st, just his second game with the Phils, Pence scored the game winning run for the Phillies in the bottom of the 10th against the Pirates. In yesterday’s 5-0 shutout of the Rockies, Pence was 2-for-3 with both hits being doubles.
But perhaps Pence’s biggest impact cannot be seen next to his name on the box score, but rather next to the name of Ryan Howard. With Pence being a serious threat in the five-hole, Howard is seeing a lot more fastballs, which is making it much easier for the Big Piece to hit the long ball. The impact was immediate; in Pence’s first game with the Phillies Howard went 4-for-4 with two doubles and a home run. In yesterday’s game against the Rockies Howard went 2-for-4 with a pair of long balls.
Pence’s impact stretches far beyond the Phillies dugout and even reaches the visitor’s dugout as well. With Pence batting behind power lefty’s Chase Utley and Howard, an opposing manager must now play his hand differently when facing the heart of the order. On Monday, Colorado manager Jim Tracy called upon lefty Matt Reynolds to face Utley and Howard. Reynolds was able to force both into ground outs (shocker), but with a dangerous right hander in Pence coming to the plate, Tracy was forced to take Reynolds out and call upon right-hander Rafael Betancourt to face Pence. Team’s now have to respect the Phillies’ five-hole hitter, something they haven’t had to do since the days of Jayson Werth.
And you know what’s the best part? At the ripe age of 28, Pence won’t reach free agency till 2013, so we can enjoy all of the impacts Pence will have on our Philadelphia Phillies for years to come.
Pence is also a player who embraces the idea of playing in Philadelphia. This quote says it all:
“When you come to Philadelphia and you play a game at this stadium as an opposing team, you see the passion,” Pence said. “It’s always exciting. You come here and you want to play in those intense environments. Now those guys have my back. And they’re also going to be on my throat if I’m not playing the right way, which is how it should be. You want to be in a town where it’s exciting and people are paying attention.”
So hats off to you, Amaro. While it hasn’t even been seven days, I think it’s still safe to say that you have once again pulled off a very successful trade. Charlie Manuel got his right handed bat, the fans got their offense, Howard got his protection in the lineup and opposing managers got something else they have to worry about. Once again you pulled off a trade on July 29th and once again you pulled off a trade that has made this already great team even better.
Did losing Cosart and Singleton make it a big price to pay? Yes, but the high risk in losing those two prospects is not nearly as high as the potential reward: a 2011 World Series Championship.