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On trading for Jon Lieber

Getting back to actual baseball talk...

Joe Sheehan discusses the Phillies need to move a starting pitcher, with Jon Lieber being the most likely candidate to get dealt, and suggests that a Lieber for Brad Wilkerson trade is one of three most sensible possible deals out there:

To the Rangers for Brad Wilkerson. Wilkerson's value is down, coming off an injury-plagued and power-free 2006 campaign. If healthy, he's a good defensive outfielder and a source of OBP and doubles, a player who allows Victorino to stay in his natural fourth-outfielder role, pinch-running and being a defensive replacement for Pat Burrell. The Rangers still need to fortify the back end of their rotation to challenge in a soft AL West, and they have an assortment of corner outfielders who may approximate Wilkerson's production.

The main flaw with this argument is Sheehan's assumption that the Rangers have other corner outfielders who can do what Wilkerson could. Sheehan has admitted he is one of the few pro-Sosa people out there, and if you believe Sosa can be a quality corner outfielder this year, he may have a point.

But I'm not a Sosa believer, and if you deal Wilkerson, and Sosa flops, you are left with Frank Catalanotto and Victor Diaz platooning in left field, with Jason Botts and Nelson Cruz playing everyday. I wouldn't be all that surprised if Wilkerson was a better hitter than Cat, Cruz, Sosa, Botts and Diaz in 2007. Dealing Wilkerson with the current other options seems like a bad plan, to me...

Particularly when the upside is adding Jon Lieber to be the team's 4th starter. How much difference is there really going to be between Lieber and, say, Josh Rupe or Kam Loe for 2007? Or Bruce Chen? I like Lieber as an innings eater, but the Ranger rotation is shored up to the point that he wouldn't fill quite the need he would have in years past.

And dealing away a good corner outfielder so you can get the marginal upgrade from Rupe or Loe to Lieber doesn't seem like a smart move for this club at this point. If anything, they need to be looking at adding a hitter, not a starting pitcher.