The Phillies are interested in A's ace Gio Gonzalez. This should not surprise you at all.
Ruben Amaro, Jr. might be a normal guy. He's a former baseball player who ascended through the front-office ranks to become the Phillies' GM, and he probably does normal GM things now. He probably listens to advisors, talks with other GMs, and spends a lot of time researching just how he wants to put his team together.
But he also might be crazy. Feet-in-Kleenex-boxes crazy. And he might sit in a dark room all day, surrounded by glossy 8'x10's of the #1 pitcher for the 29 other teams in baseball, rocking back and forth and thinking about ways to acquire them.
gonna see about sabathia sabathia sabathia, gonna see, gonna inquire, gonna ask, what will cashman want, what will cashman want gonna ask gonna ask before moving on to lincecum lincecum lincecum, gonna see about lincecum ask what they want what they want what they want papa amaro will be proud, are you proud daddy i know you are, gonna get lincecum lincecum lincecum
This is the reality I choose to believe. It fits my worldview so neatly. And it also explains a rumor like this, from Ken Rosenthal:
The Phillies, on the other hand, are something of a surprise in the (Gio) Gonzalez sweepstakes, given the strength of their rotation and high number of prospects they have traded in recent seasons.
The Phillies are interested in Gio Gonzalez. Of course they are. And if they were to trade for him, they'd have to give up Domonic Brown, most likely, the young player that they've steadfastly refused to include in every single deal they've made for the past three years. They wouldn't give him up for Roy Halladay, they wouldn't give him up for Cliff Lee, and they wouldn't give him up for Hunter Pence. But their trade chips are running out, and Brown would be the last one.
But while the Phillies are treating the future like a longshot to ever happen -- ice caps and Mayan prophecies, and all that -- Gonzalez actually fits for the present and the future. The left-hander is under team control through the 2015 season, ostensibly at below-market prices. With Halladay and Lee under contract for the next few years, this could be Amaro's chance to maintain the gaggle-of-aces philosophy on which the team is built.
And with Cole Hamels a free agent after next season, a Gonzalez acquisition would free the Phillies up. They could sign Hamels, which would give the Phillies four top starters for a long time. They could use Gonzalez as leverage -- as in, we already have three pitchers, Mr. Hamels-Agent, but we'll consider your client on a discount.
Or, Amaro could emerge from his dark room and trade Hamels for prospects to replenish the prospects he traded for pitching, then focus on signing Hamels after the season. He did it before with Lee, and it made just as much sense then as it would now. Which is to say, it would be completely bizarre.
Any of the scenarios would be possible, but it's worth remembering that it would come at the cost of Domonic Brown. If memory serves, he's the only player under 39 in the entire organization. The Phillies drafted Shawn Green in the first round last year, for example. The actual Shawn Green. The team isn't getting any younger, and Brown is supposed to serve as a bridge to the next generation of offensive talent, however the Phillies plan to acquire it. Going through the Phillies' organizational depth chart, it would appear that Brown is the only impact player at the upper levels of the Phillies' system.
Brown is 24, and he entered last season as Baseball America's #4 prospect in baseball. His minor-league numbers indicate a player with good bat control, plus speed, and developing power, and he acquitted himself well in 184 at-bats with the Phillies last season, hitting .245/.333/.391. It would be a steep price, even for a young, cheap, and good pitcher who is locked up for a while.
But if Amaro wants four aces -- or maybe five, six, seven, or eight, with the extras frozen in carbonite to hang in his office -- Gonzalez is as good a choice as any pitcher on the trade market, especially if the Phillies are just a little concerned with finances going forward.
It doesn't make perfect sense. But it makes a little. The Phillies are sort of the housing bubble of baseball teams, but the gettin' is good right now. The Phillies are interested in Gio Gonzalez. Of course they are.