Actually, the Phillies really could have had the actual Aaron and Kaline in the outfield in the 1950s, but more on that later.
As of Thursday, April 11, Twitterverse was abuzz with rumors that the Phils are aggressively in pursuit of Stanton, the power-hitting Miami Marlins right fielder who has slugged 93 homers and driven in 232 runs in his career and is only 23 years old. The New York Mets are also reported to be hot on the trail of Stanton.
But just how aggressive can the Phillies be? This rumor was also kicked around during spring training and the consensus then was their minor-league system was too bereft of high-level prospects to interest Miami. What could have changed since then?
The Phillies' top pitching prospects at Class AAA Lehigh Valley -- Adam Morgan and Jonathan Pettibone -- have yielded 14 hits and eight earned runs in 11 1/3 innings thus far. The Phillies' best future lineup hopefuls -- left fielder Darin Ruf, third baseman Cody Asche and catcher Tommy Joseph -- are a combined 16-for-69 with two home runs, neither by slugger Ruf. The guy who is rated the top prospect in the organization, left-hander Jesse Biddle, is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts at Class AA Reading. He's given up six hits and five earned runs in 12 innings.
It's hard to imagine many players on the Phillies' major-league roster being of interest to the Marlins. Perhaps reserve infielder Freddy Galvis, who is a wizard defensively at second base and shortstop. He had a good spring with the bat and is only 23. But he's had but three pinch-hit appearances thus far in the regular season.
Domonic Brown, the Phils' mercurial outfielder who once was the top minor-league prospect in all of baseball, is just 25 and makes only $500,000. He has started reasonably well as a Phillies regular with two homers and five RBIs in nine games while hitting .242. But he remains a complete adventure on defense and really hasn't shown much in previous stops at the top level.
Center fielder Ben Revere has blazing speed and plays great defense, albeit without much of an arm. He's only 24 and makes $515,000. He's a slap hitter who is currently hitting .211 with four runs scored and has yet to record an extra-base hit as a Phillie.
The only current Phillies pitchers whom seem even remote trade possibilities would be Phillippe Aumont, a 24-year-old right-hander who throws really hard and has control issues, and 27-year-old left-hander Antonio Bastardo, who had a great season in 2011 and a horrendous season last year.
Would some combination here be aggressive enough to pry Giancarlo Stanton from Miami? This is a team that's all about building for the future. Even if the Marlins are just trying to get him out of town -- Stanton is arbitration-eligible next season -- it stands to reason there are deeper farm systems to raid elsewhere.
But getting back to Hank Aaron and Al Kaline. The Phillies really did have great shots at signing both, as well as fellow Hall of Fame outfielder Carl Yastrzemski. The Phillies gave Aaron a tryout and, being the last team in the National League to sign a black player, never got around to calling him again. In 1953, they gave Kaline a tryout and a $100,000 signing bonus came down to Kaline and pitcher Tom Qualters. Guess who got $100,000? The Phillies did offer Yastrzemski a $90,000 signing bonus, but his father wanted $100,000. The Phillies said no sale.
And the rest is head-scratching history.
Ted Williams lives in Emmaus, PA and is a lifetime Phillies follower. He spent 20 years in print journalism, winning state and national awards. He covered the 1980 World Series, the first championship in Phillies history.
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- Philadelphia Phillies
- Giancarlo Stanton
- Al Kaline