It's Trading Cats and Dogs
Paul Hagen examines the Phillies centerfield situation in Friday's edition of the Philadelphia Daily News. The 2004 season represented a significant regression in the development of Marlon Byrd, the former Phillies Centerfielder of the Phuture and if the Phightin's are to secure a playoff spot in 2005 they will need to make a significant upgrade.
Because of the expected dearth of centerfield free agents this offseason, I've suggested that the best route for the Phillies to take is to package some type of trade for a centerfielder, and Hagen seems to agree. One trade scenario that Hagen puts forth has the Phillies sending Ryan Howard to the increasingly salary conscious Atlanta Braves for Andruw Jones. This is a case where the needs of two teams do match-up, but the chances of the Phillies and Braves trading again are probably quite slim. But even if it could happen, Phans should hope it doesn't happen because Ryan Howard would surely hit 50 HR's, Andruw Jones would probably play centerfield like he had cinderblocks in his pants pockets, and the Braves would win their 587th division title in a row (I know, I preached optimism, but all the rain in Virginia of late has me thinking pessimistically and making Noah references).
An option that Hagen suggests that is worth considering is acquiring Shannon Stewart or Jacque Jones from the Minnesota Twins. The Twins may be willing to trade one or both of the two outfielders because they are another team that must be payroll conscious, they need starting pitching (maybe they see something in Brett Myers?), and they have a surplus of good young outfielders which makes the higher paid Stewart and Jones expendable. Yet another option may be Laynce Nix from the Texas Rangers. The Rangers need starting pitchers (maybe they see something in Brett Myers) and the Phillies have been seen scouting the Rangers in the past.
Worst case scenario? The Phillies could resign Rickey Ledee and platoon him with Jason Michaels in centerfield. According to Ruben Amaro's discussion with Hagen, Michaels role with the Phillies isn't likely to expand, but the more Michaels plays, the more willing I would be to settle for that scenario, as long as other needs on the roster are completely taken care of (just like phans thought entering the 2004 season).