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Reports of Vance Worley For Hunter Pence: Why Pence Makes Sense For Phillies

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Amid all of the Carlos Beltran trade rumors from the past week, there have been a few interesting reports involving the Astros’ Hunter Pence, including one that could be of significant interest to Phillies fans.hunter pence

For three straight days, ESPN’s Buster Olney has commented on potential trades for the Astros’ 28 year-old right fielder. It is now believed that the Astros are looking to trade their lone All-Star, as they realize that their rebuilding process could take a number of years.

On Tuesday, Olney tweeted that rival teams were getting the impression that it would take a “major, major overpay” to acquire Pence from Houston.

That apparently hasn’t scared off the Phillies, as Olney reported on Thursday that they were looking to assemble an offer for Pence that began with Vance Worley.

If you read my column on Tuesday, you know that my belief is that Vance Worley’s trade value is as high as it will ever be, and there is a good chance that Worley will top out as a fourth or fifth starter at the major league level.

What I’m saying is that a deal that sends Worley out of town for an All-Star hitter, particularly one that would be under team control for two more years, is a no-brainer for the Phillies.

Is Pence the offensive equivalent of Carlos Beltran? No, but he has hit at least 25 homers three years in a row, and his 24 doubles, 61 RBI and .845 OPS would be a great remedy for the Phillies‘ offensive woes. Moreover, Pence is much younger than Beltran, is a terrific defensive player, and is a full-time right-handed hitter.

In short, Pence has proven that he can play at an All-Star level for a few years while Worley has demonstrated success for only 12 career starts. That is not meant to diminish the amazing run that Worley has been on (allowing only 3 earned runs in his last 37.1 innings). Worley is obviously gaining the attention of other teams with his accomplishments, but he is someone who probably does not have a postseason role for the Phillies, and will not be any higher than a fourth or fifth starter in Philly for the next few years.

If the reports are accurate, and Ruben Amaro Jr. truly is pursuing Hunter Pence, it would be in keeping with his preference to acquire players who are not simply “rentals”. He would essentially solve one of his two major offseason dilemmas by acquiring a starting outfielder. The Phillies outfield in 2012 and beyond would look awfully solid with Pence, Shane Victorino and Domonic Brown. Amaro’s only major decision would then be what to do with Jimmy Rollins and the shortstop position.

Keep in mind that the Astros are rumored to be seeking a big return for Pence, and the Phillies inclusion of Vance Worley will not seal the deal. But, if Worley is the centerpiece of the trade, it may mean that the remaining pieces could be one or two of the Phillies less premier prospects.
It looks as though the trade deadline will see the Phillies add something significant. Ruben Amaro Jr. has come through repeatedly in these situations, and will likely do so again. If that means Carlos Beltran is manning the fifth spot in the Phillies’ batting order, then it will be hard to complain.

But, if Amaro can pull off a deal involving Vance Worley and Hunter Pence, then he has once again made a move that could only be seen as a significant win for him and his franchise.

Matt Babiarz was born and raised in the Philadelphia area.  He graduated from the University of Alabama, but remained a very close observer of the Philadelphia sports scene.  He recently began covering the Phillies for Philly2Philly.com. You can also read his work at Bleacherreport.com within the Philadelphia Phillies section. 

Matt can be contacted at mattbabz@comcast.net 

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