Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/17/13
Our look at potential trade targets of Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies continues with a pair of Chicago Cubs: Nate Schierholtz and Carlos Villanueva. Schierholtz, whom the Phillies non-tendered over the winter after acquiring last July as part of the Hunter Pence trade, has had the best first-half of his career after finally getting to play every day. Schierholtz has hit .269 for the Cubs with 11 homers, 34 RBIs, 19 doubles and three triples. Subtract his sparse at-bats vs. lefties and he’s hit .278 with a .862 OPS. These are numbers befitting a starting corner outfielder, and the Phillies could have kept Schierholtz for a very reasonable price this past offseason. But their outfield situation was unsettled then, and Schierholtz instead signed with the Cubs for $2.25 million. Schierholtz is one of few players who should be on Amaro’s radar because he possesses the ability to center field and plays for a team that is clearly in sell-mode. On a one-year deal, the Cubs don’t have an attachment to keeping him. Some might say Schierholtz isn’t a fit because he bats left-handed, but with Ryan Howard out, the Phillies are considerably less prone to late-game matchup issues. A lineup of Jimmy Rollins-Chase Utley-Michael Young-Domonic Brown-Darin Ruf-Nate Schierholtz-Delmon Young-Carlos Ruiz is quite balanced, with no two lefties in a row. It wouldn’t take a whole lot to acquire Schierholtz because, again, he’s on an expiring contract. Give the Cubs a minor-league pitcher with upside and they may bite. It could create a productive center field platoon of Schierholtz vs. righties and John Mayberry against the left-handed pitchers he’s always crushed. Schierholtz’s teammate, Villanueva, should also be on Amaro’s radar. He’s not a setup man, but he’s a valuable swingman who can start, relieve and pitch multiple innings. In 26 appearances (10 starts) this season, the 29-year-old has a 3.59 ERA, a 1.16 WHIP and a .245 opponents’ average. Villanueva has flown under the radar for quite some time, and was a prototypical Theo Epstein signing this past offseason. Epstein values the forgotten players, the ones who lack the big-name appeal of other free agents but can provide a team with solid, steady production. That accurately describes Villanueva, who since 2008 has struck out 7.8 batters per nine while walking 3.0. He’s in the first year of a two-year, $10 million deal with Chicago. Aside from a four-seam fastball and two-seam sinker, Villanueva throws three above-average offspeed pitches: a slider, changeup and curve. Opponents have hit .196 this season against the changeup, which he’s known for. Since 2007, they’ve hit .177 against the slider. When Villanueva can get ahead in the count with a fastball he’s very difficult to hit.
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