NEW YORK - The names of the available big-league players who might interest the Phillies as the trade deadline draws closer are well-known.
Hard-core Phillies fans also know the names of the minor-league prospects the team might have to use if they want to acquire one of those available players.
What is not known for sure is how the available big-leaguers and prospects would match up in a potential deal between the Phillies and another team.
In an attempt to find out the value of the available players and the Phillies' prospects, The Inquirer spoke Friday with two scouts - one from the American League and one from the National League. Both men have scouted the Phillies minor-league system this season, so they have a good idea of which prospects are the best.
Each scout first was asked what it might take to acquire some of the players who have been linked to the Phillies in trade rumors.
Here are their opinions:
Josh Willingham, OF, Oakland
AL scout: "I think they will be looking for a good prospect who is two years away or maybe a lesser-ceiling guy if he's pretty close right now. I think they'd at least want a good double-A prospect."
NL scout: "He's an offensive player that you can play periodically against lefthanded pitchers. He's also a bat that can help you off the bench in the later innings. I don't think you have to give up a top-tier prospect because he's not an everyday player. Maybe a guy like [double-A Reading shortstop] Freddy Galvis or [triple-A Lehigh Valley reliever] Michael Schwimer."
Ryan Ludwick, OF, San Diego
AL scout: "Ludwick is a little better than Willingham, so I think they will want a near-ready big-league prospect, and they might want another player, too. Maybe an average prospect at low-A ball."
NL scout: "I think he's a piece that can help a team, but I don't look at him as a frontline guy. I wouldn't give up a lot for him."
Ludwick and either Heath Bell or Mike Adams, RP
AL scout: "You do that and you're giving up some of your top prospects. They're going to want two near-ready guys that project to be better-than-average big-league players."
NL scout: "You do that and you're going to give up a lot."
Carlos Beltran, OF, New York Mets
AL scout: "Money is going to weigh heavily into that one. I think the Mets are in a tight spot there because he's a guy who that arrow is pointing down, and I think they are looking for a lot more than what most clubs are willing to give up."
NL scout: "I think he's worth a lot right now. He's playing really well, and he's playing for that contract. You get a two-month rental that can really help you. I think you do something like that, you'll have to give up a [triple-A Lehigh Valley reliever] Justin De Fratus and maybe a Schwimer or a Galvis. What you give up depends on how much money you're willing to eat."
Hunter Pence, OF, Houston
AL scout: "I think [Astros general manager] Ed Wade would make that trade if he was offered the right players, but I think the new ownership there is going to want to have a lot of voice with what's going on. To get Pence, you're going to have to give up a good, solid prospect and another low-level prospect as well."
NL scout: "He'd be the guy at the top of the list, and you're going to have to give up one of your best prospects."
The two scouts had some interesting and differing opinions about other things related to the trade deadline.
For example, the American League scout was asked whether he would trade rookie rightfielder Domonic Brown for Pence.
"No," he said. "I don't think Brown is that far away from being a really good player. In my opinion, he has the potential to be a much better player than Pence."
The American League scout also was asked whether he would be willing to trade Vance Worley for the right player, and he downplayed the rookie righthander's value.
"I view him as a fifth starter, and really no more than that," the scout said. "I see him as a Joe Blanton type of guy. He'll give you innings, and he'll pitch at the bottom of the rotation for you. I don't see him being any more than a four."
The National League scout disagreed with that assessment.
"He keeps getting better," the scout said. "He's gone from good to very good in the last year. I see him being a fourth starter more than a fifth, and it's possible he could continue to prove us all wrong."
The American League scout also indicated that the Phillies do not have a super prospect in their farm system, even downplaying first baseman Jonathan Singleton and the four starting pitchers at single-A Clearwater (Jared Cosart, Trevor May, Jonathan Pettibone, and Julio Rodriguez).
"I really don't think any of them are future ones or twos," the scout said. "They could be solid guys, but they are not top-of-the-rotation guys. I think some clubs would like to have them, but if you really want to get something good, you're probably going to have to give up multiple guys."
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has exactly two weeks to decide which players he wants and which ones he is willing to part with.