The trade deadline should have been the Phillies' day. They are bad, foundering, getting worse, weighed down by terrible contracts and not about to be bailed out by talent from a thin minor league system. But they have handful of good major leaguers, all older, all who would be very useful for a team that's capable of winning now or soon, and as such useless to the Phillies. You'd have thought Philadelphia could have swung at least one trade, moved someone who's worthless to them but could bring as a return someone who might one day be worth more than nothing. You'd have thought.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro he thought so too, and he really wanted to make trades, he did, but it's all those other GMs you should be blaming, not him.
"I'm not necessarily disappointed," he said moments after the deadline. "I'm more surprised that there wasn't more aggressive action from the other end. We have some pretty good baseball players here. Our goal all along was to try to improve the club and there really wasn't a deal to be made that would help us do that."
Surely there were mitigating circumstances. What contender wouldn't have wanted a Jonathan Papelbon or a Marlon Byrd or an A.J. Burnett for the stretch run? Unless other teams were scared off by the big contracts attached to some of the tradeable players, contracts that pretty much got the Phillies into their current mire?
Nah. Amaro said the Phillies would have been more than willing to send cash along if that was a sticking point.
"Money wasn't going to be an impediment for us, it was trying to get the right baseball deal," Amaro said. "We weren't going to let money impede that. My feeling is if we had an opportunity to improve the club with the type of talent we wanted to get back, then we would have made a move."
I don't want to be overly simplistic here, but pretty much any move, even for the proverbial bag of balls, would have improved this club.
But there is still time. One side effect of all the big-money deals on staff is that August becomes prime trade season. For example, Cliff Lee is owed—at the bare minimum, before a potential vesting option—about $34 million. That kind of cash will scare most teams away from claiming him on waivers, making an August deal where the Phillies pick up some of his salary a realistic thing.
And then Lee went and injured himself 31 pitches into his start last night. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad trade deadline day for the Phils.