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Your move, Ruben: Assessing the trade market for a new Phillies infielder

With yesterday's news that Chase Utley will be out for roughly 8 weeks after thumb surgery, and that Placido Polanco is likely to miss 4 weeks with his elbow problem, there is suddenly a pair of gaping holes in the Phillies' infield.  Were the Phils in cruise control atop a weak division, or if the organization had significant organizational depth at the keystone and the hot corner, it might make sense to simply tread water until the 2 and 3 hole hitters returned.  But the reality of the situation is far more pressing:

  • the Phillies find themselves 3rd in the NL East, behind a Braves squad that is very, very good, and a Mets club that is better than thought coming into the season;
  • the replacement options (Greg Dobbs, Wilson Valdez, Juan Castro) are the very definition of replacement level; and
  • while it's depressing to admit it, the club's core is composed of guys either in or past their primes, and each successive season provides a lesser chance at hoisting the World Series trophy than the one before it.

The above factors lead to one simple and inescapable conclusion: Ruben Amaro needs to make a move to shore up the infield, and fast.  But who should he trade for?  Well, I'm glad you asked.  Check below the jump as we run through some of the candidates.

Ty Wigginton, Orioles
Why he makes sense: The former Mets prospect can handle both 2B and 3B, and he's a solid hitter (.270/.330/.454 in  his career, .262/.347/.473 in 2010). His versatility, plus the fact that he's a right handed hitter, means that he'd serve a valuable role even when both Utley and Polanco return.  The O's should be motivated to move someone in their infield to accommodate recent call up Josh Bell.  Finally, the prorated portion of his $3.5 million salary for 2010 shouldn't be too much to handle.

Why he doesn't make sense: He's something of a Dobbs-ian defender at both positions.

Jose Lopez, Mariners
Why he makes sense: Like Wigginton, Lopez is also capable of playing both 2B and 3B, with the added bonus that he's a solid defender at each spot. He's not a spectacular hitter by any means (career .269/.300/.405), but still represents a likely upgrade over the current options, and the M's are apparently motivated to move him.  The remainder of his $2.3 million salary this year should be relatively affordable.

Why he doesn't make sense: Like virtually everyone on the M's, Lopez has struggled immensely with the stick this year (just .244/.271/.336).  And is anyone else a bit anxious about the prospect of Amaro dealing with Jack Z again?

Kelly Johnson, Diamondbacks
Why he makes sense: As Johnson's BABIP has recovered after an unsightly .247 number last year, so have his overall numbers. He's got 13 HR, a .261/.364/.482 slash line, and judging by UZR, his defense has improved greatly in recent years.  The remaining portion of his $2.35 million salary makes him a bargain.

Why he doesn't make sense: Because of the production and the affordable contract, he's likely to command more in a trade than anyone else on this list. And he hasn't played anything but 2B in the majors since 2005, so he'd be a glorified pinch hitter once Utley comes back.

Jhonny Peralta, Indians
Why he makes sense: I'd venture to guess that the Indians probably aren't looking for a ton in return, and the career .265/.330/.423 hitter is an obvious upgrade over the incumbents. He's even capable of playing shortstop if necessary.

Why he doesn't make sense: The remainder $4.6 million contract this year (and $250K buyout for next year) is probably the biggest obstacle. He also hasn't been nearly as good a hitter the past few years, as evidenced by his .253/.318/.401 line in 2010.

Miguel Tejada, Orioles
Why he makes sense: Even at 36, he's probably still the best pure hitter of the bunch. His power has evaporated in recent years (just .099 ISO in 2010), but he still has an uncanny ability to make contact with everything. He's settled in nicely as a third baseman, with roughly average defensive numbers at the position.

Why he doesn't make sense: The remainder of his $6 million salary for this year, plus the $150K he gets if traded, is the biggest reason. If the O's were to throw in some money to cover part of that, they'd want a better prospect, which I'm not sure if the Phillies would (or should) do.

Pedro Feliz, Astros
Why he makes sense: Ummm, he's got a World Series ring, so he's a winner?

Why he doesn't make sense: Here are the Cliffs Notes, so this doesn't get too long: his bat speed is gone, as evidenced by his .229/.255/.317 line this year; he's limited to third base defensively; and his defense has plummeted this year.  The -1.2 WAR this year pretty much says it all.