By John Manuel
August 9, 2004
While the surging Braves have put significant distance between the Phillies and first place in the National League East, Philadelphia still harbors hope of reaching the postseason, lingering just three games behind the Cubs for the NL wild card. To that end, the Phillies moved to bolster their rotation Monday, acquiring Cory Lidle from the Reds for a pair of low Class A players, outfielder Javon Moran and lefthander Joe Wilson, and either a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Lidle, a 32-year-old righthander, is in his seventh major league season and has a 52-49, 4.57 career record. He’s gone just 7-10, 5.32 for the Reds this season, ending a three-game personal losing streak Sunday when he beat the Rockies in Denver, giving up just three runs in six innings at Coors Field. Lidle, who signed a one-year, $2.75 million deal in the offseason, becomes a free agent after the season. A sinkerballer with a split-finger fastball, curve and changeup, Lidle has never missed many bats in his career (955 hits allowed in 905 innings), but he should be an upgrade for the Phillies in the No. 5 spot in the rotation, where veteran Paul Abbott (1-6, 6.24) has been a disaster. The Phillies also are without disabled starters Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla.
Moran, 21, was a fifth-round pick in 2003 out of Auburn, and has played mostly center field for Class A Lakewood. The righthanded hitter was batting .284/.340/.386 with two home runs and 37 RBIs for the Blue Claws with 41 stolen bases, but he also had been caught 16 times and had just 24 walks. His on-base percentage had been bolstered by 12 HBPs. Moran’s best tool is his speed, which rates close to 80 on the 20-to-80 scouting scale and helps him have excellent range in center field. Moran has struggled of late, going just 3-for-24 to drop his average to its lowest point since mid-May.
Wilson, 22, is a hard-throwing lefthander who has yet to experience consistent success since signing as a 13th-round pick out of Maryland-Baltimore County in 2003. He was 4-5, 3.03 for the Blue Claws with 85 strikeouts in 86 innings, and South Atlantic League hitters had 63 hits against him, batting just .205. However, Wilson lacks control of his fastball and secondary stuff due to a maximum-effort delivery. His fastball has reached 93 mph and he has a playable changeup, but his slider remains inconsistent. Both Wilson and Moran will be assigned to low Class A Dayton.
Once the player to be named has been identified, we’ll analyze him as well.
Aug. 12 update: The Phillies also sent righthander Elizardo Ramirez to the Reds to complete the Lidle deal.
Nicknamed “Easy,” Ramirez jumped from the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League to the high Class A Florida State League last season, registering a 101-33 strikeout-walk ratio. His composure, command, desire and build are reminiscent of Pedro Martinez, but Ramirez doesn’t have the same kind of stuff. He has a loose arm and an easy, compact delivery that should allow him to be a workhorse. His fastball sits in the 90 mph range, topping out at 92. He throws an average curveball and changeup, but has had success because of an advanced feel for pitching and excellent location to both sides of the plate.
Ramirez started the year at high Class A Clearwater, going 5-1, 2.44. His strikeouts and hit rates were troubling in the past, and they didn’t look much better this season. In 59 innings, he allowed 55 hits and struck out just 33. It only got worse when he was promoted to Double-A Reading, where he went 2-5, 6.68. He allowed 51 hits and struck out just 20 in 34 innings. He must stay sharp and maintain a consistent delivery, being careful not to pitch too fine. Otherwise, his average stuff across the board can be exposed.