Earlier this week, Eric Seidman, over at the Brotherly Glove and a few other Astros and Phillies commentators had a meeting of the minds over the possibility of a trade for Hunter Pence.
Personally I do not see a real need for the Phillies to trade for Pence. True, Pence would be an upgrade on Raul Ibanez, who is entering the final year of a 3-year $31.5m contract and will turn 39 in just over a month. However Ibanez has had a lousy start to the season and if the Phillies really think they have the prospect depth to swing a trade then good on them.
Now to Houston's perspective. This year has started real ugly, and many are coming round to the conclusion that some reached earlier than others: the current Astros' core is just not good enough to contend in the short or even mid-term future.
Pence, as solid as he is, is just not a franchise cornerstone, and as unpalatable as trading him away would be to huge sections of the franchise's fanbase, it would make dead-bang sense while his value is relatively high. If, and if Ed Wade could get a decent return, and a package that included Jarred Cosart would be a good start, I would back him, even if most would howl their disapproval.
Frankly I would be surprised if the Phillies entertained the prospect of trading Cosart, who was ranked #70 on Baseball America's prospect list coming into 2011.
If Ed Wade starts smashing this team up though, what is left to entice any new owner? It helps Drayton McLane to get the price he wants if a new owner thinks he could patch this team up quickly with some free agent signings and hope they compete next year or the year after.
Selling on Brett Myers, Wandy Rodriguez, Pence and even Michael Bourn, whose agent switch in the offseason has me baffled as to his future intentions, would torpedo this idea, and could decimate already worrying attendance levels, which have dropped 11% from last year already.
Realistically, apart from Jordan Lyles and J.D. Martinez, and maybe Dallas Keuchel, serious help is as far away as Lexington and Lancaster (A ball). That's 2013-2014 when real help starts arriving from the farm system in the sorts of quantities the Astros need to plug numerous holes.
Trading Pence now might seem like the sane thing to do, but I would not hold your breath. Unless a team blows away Wade with an offer he can't refuse, Drayton, Tal Smith and Wade will sit on their hands in 2011.
When a new owner comes in, maps out what he wants to do, with the people he brings in, then we might have some moves. But not until then.