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Michaels for Rhodes deal done

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The Phillies' long-delayed swap of outfielder Jason Michaels to the Cleveland Indians for lefty reliever Arthur Rhodes is evidently finished, pending Rhodes passing a physical as soon as this afternoon.  

Update [2006-1-27 20:40:18 by dajafi]: Here's the link from Phillies Pravda. Note the weird reference to a six-man bullpen... I'll believe it when I see it. And Rhodes is no "substitute closer." Sigh...

I'm still not sure exactly how to evaluate this trade. My first, strong instinct is to render a thumbs-down: Michaels is a high-OBP hitter who pounds left-handed pitching--a big deal for a lineup as lefty-heavy as the Phils--and brings a decent glove to all three outfield positions. He's cheap, having signed a deal for slightly more than $1 million last week. And he's got some symbolic value--at least to me--as a guy who came through the system as a less than heralded prospect but emerged as a solid big-league contributor. Given his level of production and low pricetag, he probably should command more value than a 36 year-old lefty journeyman reliever with health issues. At the least, I wanted to see a low-level prospect coming back to the Phils.

That said, Rhodes was effective last year--3-1, 2.08 ERA, 43 strikeouts in 43.1 innings pitched--and GM Pat Gillick is obviously a believer, having employed the guy in Baltimore and Seattle. The veteran was actually better against right-handed hitters (.155 BAA, .449 OOPS) than lefties (.286, .662) in 2005.  More importantly by my lights, the move frees Ryan Madson to join the starting rotation; indeed, in his MLB.com chat earlier today, Gillick predicted a rotation of Lieber, Lidle, Myers, Madson and (ugh) Ryan Franklin. The deal also shows the team's faith in rookie outfielder Shane Victorino, who will replace Michaels as the top backup at all three OF positions. Given Victorino's youth, though, my guess is that the Phils will go outside the organization to sign a second outfield reserve rather than throw the job open to prospects Chris Roberson or Josh Kroeger. Let's just hope they don't go back to that ultimate "character vet": Mr. Doug Glanville...