Every now and again you hear a rumor that the Phillies might trade JA Happ as part of a package to get starting pitching. Whether that’s a good idea or not probably depends on the pitcher you’re trading for and what else you have to give up. Happ has been fantastic in ’09, though, arguably the best pitcher on the team so far this season.

There are 11 pitchers on the Phillies who have thrown at least 20 innings for the team this season (nothing in this post includes results from last night’s game). For the six categories below, for each of those 11 pitchers there’s a “Yes” in his cell if he has been better than Happ in the category this year and a “No” in the cell if he has been worse than Happ in the category this year:

Better than Happ this year?

Player

ERA

Ratio

H/9

BB/9

SO/9

XBH/9

Blanton

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Hamels

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Moyer

No

No

No

Yes

No

No

Myers

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

Park

No

No

No

No

Yes

No

Durbin

No

No

Yes

No

Yes

No

Madson

No

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

Condrey

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

Lidge

No

No

No

No

Yes

No

Taschner

No

No

No

No

No

No

Bastardo

No

No

No

Yes

Yes

No

So, for example, Blanton has a worse ERA, worse ratio, worse hits per nine and has allowed more extra-base hits per nine innings, but has better rates for strikeouts and walks.

Nobody in the group has a better ERA or ratio than Happ. Only Durbin has been better at preventing hits. Opponents are hitting .230 against Happ and .219 against Durbin (they’ve actually hit just .228 against Madson, but Happ’s hits per nine innings rate is better). Happ doesn’t strike people out and his walk rate is too high — he has walked 3.38 per nine, which is worse than the mark for the other guys on the list who have started games for the Phils other than Park.

If Happ hasn’t been the best pitcher on the staff this season it has to be somebody. Who could it be? I don’t think it can be anyone who hasn’t thrown 20 innings. I don’t think it could be anybody that has started games, because Happ has a ratio that’s better and an ERA that’s at least a run better than anyone who has started at least three games for the Phils this year. Moyer is the only guy on the team with more wins, but Moyer’s ERA is 5.72.

Lidge and Taschner both have ERAs over five. That leaves Durbin, Madson and Condrey. Condrey has walked hitters more regularly and struck them out less regularly than Happ has, and lots of guys on the team have better rates than Happ in those categories. Durbin has been better at getting strikeouts and preventing hits, but his walk rate isn’t just worse than Happ it’s a whole lot worse. Opponents are hitting just .219 against Durbin, but they’re on-basing .346.

I think the guy with the second-best case on the team is Madson. But I think Happ has been better.

  IP ERA Ratio H/9 BB/9 SO/9 XBH/9
Madson 41.7 3.24 1.25 7.78 3.46 9.29 2.16
Happ 80.0 3.04 1.20 7.43 3.38 6.41 2.70

Madson has fantastic strikeout numbers that Happ can’t match. He’s also been the best pitcher on the team of the guys who have thrown at least 20 innings at preventing extra-base hits. He didn’t allow a home run on the year until June 18 (none in his first 33 appearances). Still, Happ has been better at preventing hits and walks, his ERA is better and he’s thrown almost twice as many innings.

I’ll do an update later this morning to the Happ/Madson table to reflect the two strong innings that Madson threw last night.

You can still vote for Victorino for the All-Star team at the Phillies web site. Voting ends today at four.

This says that there are players in the Phillies minor league system that the team would not trade to get the best player in the Major Leagues. It also says that they are Kyle Drabek, Jason Knapp and Dominic Brown. I find both elements of that tough to believe — it’s a little easier for me if you add the stipulation that the hypothetical best player in the Major Leagues also has an enormous contract. I would be surprised if it was not the case that the Phils were willing to trade one or more of the three players listed above for someone who was not the best player or even the second-best player in the Major Leagues if he didn’t have a huge contract.

This says that Ibanez may play in two games in the series with Pittsburgh this weekend and that Condrey will start a rehab assignment soon.

Update: Here’s Madson and Happ after two scoreless innings from Madson in last night’s game:

  IP ERA Ratio H/9 BB/9 SO/9 XBH/9
Madson 43.7 3.09 1.19 7.42 3.30 9.07 2.06
Happ 80.0 3.04 1.20 7.43 3.38 6.41 2.70

In the top chart, Madson hops ahead of Happ in hits per nine innings and walks per nine innings. It’s still almost twice as many innings pitched for Happ, though.