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 …