What It Takes

Before the Phillies opened the second half of their season Friday in Colorado, what would you have said they needed to play in 15 games before the trade deadline to keep Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and others?

I thought for a while they would need to finish 10-5, but the more I think about it the more I think it has to be better than that.

If they finish a very good 10-5 they’ll still be eight games under .500 entering the trade deadline. Is that good enough for Ruben Amaro Jr.? Should it be? If you’re looking at things with a cold and calculated eye it shouldn’t be. Entering tonight’s game at Dodger Stadium, the Phillies are 10 games out of the NL Wild Card with eight teams ahead of them in the standings. The Pirates, who currently hold the second Wild Card spot, are on pace to win 89 games. The Phillies need to finish 49-22 (.690) to win 89.

So say it’s July 30 or 31 and the Phillies are 10-5 since the break. They’re looking better. Roy Halladay has stabilized the rotation, taking pressure off the bullpen. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard look closer to form. They’re playing good, solid baseball. You start to think, “Boy, maybe these guys can get on a run.” But then you look at the standings and see the Phillies are 47-55, still way behind the Nationals in the NL East and something like seven or eight games behind the Wild Card leaders with seven teams ahead of them in the standings.

Then a team like the Rangers call.

Hey, Ruben. Listen, we thought about it and we’ll give you that package you want for Hamels. We’re just too close to winning the World Series not to go for it. What do you say?

What do you say? Do you say no on a long shot to win a Wild Card spot, which only guarantees one playoff game? Do you pass up on an opportunity to get younger and fill a few holes, like finding a power-hitting third baseman you sorely need?

These were the things running through my mind as I headed to the visitor’s clubhouse following last night’s 3-2 victory over the Dodgers. The victory gave the Phillies a three-game winning streak, their first winning streak of three or more games since May 23-26. It also was the first time since May 13 they won a game when scoring three or fewer runs.

Does 12-3 convince Amaro to stand pat? They’d still be four games under .500, and they still would need to play 40-20 (.667) the rest of the way to finish with 89 wins. But it’s a more difficult decision at that point. Fans will start getting excited again. They’ll start believing. But don’t you have to push through and make the trade anyway? If it’s the package you want I think you probably do. But it must be the package you want. No settling. You can’t get Vicente Padilla, Travis Lee, Omar Daal and Nelson Figueroa, like they got for Curt Schilling in 2000. They can’t get Placido Polanco, Bud Smith and Mike Timlin, like they got for Scott Rolen in 2002. They have to get the guys they want.

Tough call, isn’t it?

So what would it take for you not to sell?

Tell me what it takes to let you go


Jimmy Rollins played coy or simply did not want to answer my questions about waiving his trade rights.


There is no reason to clean house, but they need to make good solid deals that will help the club long term. I’ve said it all along – this year is done, they need to look to next year. But, now that their parts are all back and healthy, they need to take a good look at the potential this team has next year and beyond. Good deals that gives proven value for the future should not be turned down no matter who they are for. Of course, “good deal” means they get back more than they give away, not likely for most of their starting rotation. This is NOT a time to panic, it IS a time for judicious, realistic assessments and long-term thinking. This team needs OFs, at least one IF, and bullpen help to win in the playoffs. Right now they have 3 average OFs, especially at the plate. I think they need to move at least 2. 3rd base is a concern for the future. So is 2nd base, truthfully. Do they think Galvis can fill that role if they get better hitters in another position? The guy certainly seemed dynamic on defense. I hope they can sign Hamels, I really do. He is the future ace. Really, he is a current ace on any rotation not also containing a healthy Halladay. But if they have to surround him with an average lineup and bullpen in order to sign him, they need to let him go, because as we’ve already seen, that dog won’t hunt.

You are NOT going to get more than you give away in absolute value for the remaining 40% of the season. The reason why is that is all the buyer gets is a short term rental. You get control of a number of prospects in exchange for the short term value to the buyer. The way to think about it is the value of the draft pick you give up vs the value of the prospects. How much you get back is simply a question of how great is the demand. You are not going to get a great amount but it will be worth more than the draft pick because the season is done and Hamels is gone unless you break the bank in which case you have no money for supporting bitters and bullpen. SELL and restocked the farm. We need a 2b in 2014!

How do you know the Rangers don’t already intend to sign Cole to a 7-year $175 million extention? With that offense for the forseeable future, Cole would be a perrenial Cy Young contender for years to come. Why is everyone assuming that Cole won’t sign a deal like that?

The Rangers may intend to do that in FA but that has nothing to do with a deal with the Phil’s now. Note what happened with Cliff Lee.

By the way I think they got fair value for Rolen and Schilling. Polanco and Padilla had very good careers although not necessarily with the Phillies. How they handled that value is another issue.

I hope you’re not serious. Rolen and Schilling are both borderline HOFers.

They go 10-5 and are still a long way from the playoffs, I say you do it. If we can get that young stud 3B you wrote about yesterday as the main piece along with some solid prospects, pull the trigger. Regardless what happens, you know it will be interesting

Sometimes there are unintended consequences and not always for the bad. Look at 2006, the last time the Phillies were sellers. Not too shabby. 36-43 before the trades to finish the season 85-77 in second place but still 12 games back admittedly.

People forget that good ole’ Curt made it so that the Phillies stood no chance of getting any real value in a deal for him. That fat blow hard screwed the Phillies in that one, far more than Wade getting rooked.

Honestly, I’d like Ruben to just get a decent reliever NOW and see how the rest of the month pans out. I really think that being down 1 run as opposed to 4 runs would have made a come back more possible in the Phils first game against the Rockies. Lee got the loss, but the pen pitching put the nail in the coffin. They will keep doing the same in every close game. Basically, the starters will have to pitch 8 innings a start to keep the middle relievers from blowing game after game. Maybe Kyle has what it takes to be a set up guy, but then who will come in for long relief stints?

I think if the Phils are 10-5 with that bullpen by the end of the month, it will be an accomplishment.

Little did I know that Cliff Lee would pitch 8 brilliant innings and the pen would lose the game….

Four in a row, two wins in a row with only three runs scored, Pence gets TWO hits with RISP, and the Phillies come from behind to win late. Up is down. Black is white.

Dare I believe?

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