PHILS EXPECT HEALTHY RAMOS BY MID-AUGUST, LOUP RIGHT NOW!

By Mary Cunningham

It was a big Tuesday for the Phillies, who beat the Boston Red Sox, the MLB-best team, and traded for a big bat and a left reliever.

All-Star catcher Wilson Ramos came from the Rays for a player to be named later or cash and left-hander Aaron Loup from the Blue Jays for Triple-A right-hander Jacob Waguespack.

Last week, GM Matt Klentak pulled the trigger on a trade for Mets infielder Asdrubal Cabrera for pitching prospect Franklyn Kilome.

“A lot of the upgrades that teams were pursuing were not necessarily upgrades for us,” Klentak said in a conference call with reporters after the deals yesterday. “We identified a few key areas that we felt we could upgrade.

“What I am happy about in all three of those cases is that it will not dramatically affect the playing time of our young players. Our young players are principally the reason we are where we are in the standings, and we want to continue to let those guys play. But on the other hand, we saw opportunities that saw veterans that can help in certain key areas. I’m pleased that we were able to address three of those such areas.”

Ramos, 30, is hitting .297 with 14 home runs, 53 RBIs and an .834 OPS in 315 plate appearances. Phillies catchers this season rank 11th in baseball with a .709 OPS.

However, Ramos hasn’t played since July 14 because of a strained left hamstring. Klentak said Ramos could return to action mid-to-late August. He said the worst-case scenario is that he could be out until around Sept. 1.

The Phillies will pay most, if not all, of the roughly $2.8 million remaining on Ramos’ contract. But Klentak said the Rays’ return otherwise is not that “heavy.”

“That was all factored into the components of this trade,” Klentak said. “The fact that Wilson may not be active for us for a few more weeks is not the end of the world for us because we’re excited to continue to let Jorge Alfaro and Andrew Knapp play.”

Once Ramos is active, Alfaro will remain with the team. He is out of options. Knapp could be optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, although he would rejoin the team as soon as rosters expand Sept.

The Phillies hope Loup, 30, bolsters a Phillies’ bullpen that has been throwing the ball well lately. He had a 4.54 ERA in 50 relief appearances with the Blue Jays, and he is effective against left-handed hitters. He has allowed only five home runs in 565 plate appearances against left-handers in his career.

“What he can do against left-handers to neutralize them is important, and it’s something that we need,” Klentak said. “We haven’t really had that this year, and I think it’s harder to carry that kind of a player for the first five months of the year. It’s easier in September, and we’re comfortable with the way our bullpen group is going that we’re going to be able to carry that left-on-left specialist for the month of August and heading into September. We will play a lot of division games in the next two months that feature some pretty tough left-handed hitters, and we feel like it was important to give our pitching staff the best weapons possible to combat those left-handed hitters.”

The Phillies stayed away from the starting pitching market. They like what they have. The rotation’s 3.85 ERA is tied for eighth in baseball. Its 1.22 WHIP is tied for eighth. Its 3.77 xFIP is fifth.

“It’s not just comfort,” Klentak said. “We are really excited about our starting pitching. No matter how you measure it, our starting five have been among the better starting fives in all of baseball this year. I recognize that that’s not every single night, but the total body of work puts us at or near the top. On top of that, we have players like Enyel De Los Santos and Ranger Suarez and Cole Irvin and others in Triple-A to give us a lot of confidence that we have depth to support the five in the big leagues right now. You’ve heard me say it before and I’m happy to repeat it, if you can stay out of the trade market for starting pitching at the Trade Deadline, you should do that because it tends to be very expensive.”

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