Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday afternoon the Phillies were leaning towards buying before the July 31 trade deadline.
Feelings about this team seem to change by the hour (or pitch … just check Twitter). If the Phillies win tonight’s series finale and take 2 of 3 from the White Sox this weekend they will enter the All-Star break at .500. It would be tough to think about selling at that point. On the other hand, does it make sense to trade quality Minor League talent to acquire a reliever of two when the team has been so inconsistent much of the season?
That is what the Phillies are asking themselves: How good are we really? The Phillies have won 6 of 9 to get to improve to 45-47. They are 7 1/2 games behind the Braves and 6 1/2 games behind the Reds for the second NL Wild Card. Yesterday I blogged about some very encouraging offensive numbers. But I also mentioned some scary numbers about the pitching staff, including some wretched numbers about the bullpen. If the Phillies acquire a setup man for the stretch run at a significant price and the Phillies still fall short of the postseason they will have wasted an opportunity to improve for 2014 and beyond. In fact, they will have hurt their chances to compete in the future.
“I would assume things would go down to the wire, unless we reel off 10 out of 11 or we lose 10 out of 11,” Amaro said. “Then we’ll have a clearer picture. Right now, we’re just not sure. I would assume like most years, it would go down to the wire.”
So even if the Phillies finish the homestand 7-3 to enter the break .500, it doesn’t mean they’ll buy. They return from the break with a nine-game road trip against the Mets, Cardinals and Tigers. The Cardinals have the best record in baseball, while the Tigers lead the AL Central. It seems to me a good homestand can only buy the Phillies more time, while that road trip after the break is going to make the decision. In the meantime, the Phillies are going to get everything lined up so they’re prepared to buy or sell whenever the time comes.
But even if the Phillies buy it doesn’t make a ton of sense to sacrifice quality prospects for a short-term run with so many issues facing them in the offseason. It might be best to do what they can with what they’ve got, unless they can find somebody relatively inexpensive (i.e. J.C. Romero in 2007 or Scott Eyre in 2008).