Deadline “Success” and Racing to Resolution

As of this post, the Phillies are no closer to making a trade of any substance than they were a week or two. They’re concrete in their stead, apparently, holding out for the moon and stars in return for Cole Hamels, all while having to weather the opposing forces rebuffing their attempts to dump the likes of Ryan Howard, A.J. Burnett and Marlon Byrd.

Pick an aspect of this deadline for the Phillies, any aspect, and you’re likely to find a different root cause and hindrance for every potential deal. The necessity of giving every player imaginable an option or three, the unluckiness of a four-team no-trade backfiring, the most valuable trade chips being the most unlikely to move, and on and on. In truth, there seems little assured about this deadline other than Antonio Bastardo‘s seemingly imminent departure. But is that enough?

There’s an inherent danger about considering something that involves trading professional baseball players a “success” in its immediate wake. The nature of the game is to develop players for years in obscurity, away from the limelight unless heralded as peak talent, until the fervor builds up in the fanbase just enough to make for an exciting Major League debut. That a trade produces immediate results on both sides is a rare thing, not to be expected or depended upon.

So, with caveats laid bare, the question is put forth: what could, should or needs to happen for this non-waiver (and, to be fair, also the waiver) deadline to be considered a success? Who needs to move? What needs to come back? What gears need to turn to reinvigorate your sense of hope about this franchise? Does a successful outcome even  reasonably exist?

Bastardo will likely go. Everyone else’s departure is clouded with uncertainty, but any of the following could also be shipped out: Burnett, Byrd, Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley. That’s a fair collection of Major League talent, but it doesn’t feel unreasonable to think that, maybe, Bastardo is the only one gone by this time next week.

Gut reaction: that sounds like a failure, right? With all of the names bandied about and dreams of sugarplum prospects dancing in heads, moving a good – but not major – bullpen piece as the lone move is sure to cause a bit of unrest. But does not moving a bigger piece before Thursday’s deadline, or before the end of August, signify a failure? Obviously, we, as fans, are rarely privy to the specific machinations of trade discussions, so it’d be impossible to discern if a worthy opportunity was missed.

Instead, patience is the word. Today, Wednesday and Thursday could be busy. August could be busier this year than in any other in recent memory. Nothing is guaranteed, but this is also the most important series of trades this franchise has ever faced. Better to get it right than get it rushed.

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  1. JD

    July 29, 2014 03:30 PM

    Maybe teams should be cautions about keeping 10+5 players around if they are not definitely wanted to retire with the team. Also, don’t hand out overpaying contracts with no trade clauses – one or the other – never both.

  2. Matt

    July 29, 2014 07:54 PM

    Q: What gears need to turn to reinvigorate your sense of hope about this franchise?
    A: Ruben and his entire scouting team getting the boot.

  3. Cutter McCool

    July 30, 2014 12:50 AM

    There’s a simple reason why there have been no trades.

    That saying that, “if you look around the room and can’t find the sucker, it’s you.”

    Amaro is looking around the room of GMs and can’t find the sucker who will deal with him. (Check a mirror, Rueben.) Because he’s the sucker they’re looking to steal from, except Amaro has nothing worth stealing. (Hamels isn’t really available, for example.)

    The owners should trade Rueben Amaro for a Rueben sandwich. That would constitute an upgrade. Then we could deal the sandwich and Ryan Howard to Subway for a commercial.

    Biggest problems, solved.

  4. Greg

    July 30, 2014 10:59 AM

    The biggest problem for Rueben at this point is that Ed Wade isn’t the GM of a major league team any more.

    • Jesse

      July 30, 2014 11:36 AM

      You mean the same Ed Wade who took RAJ to the cleaners in the Pence trade?

      • Greg

        July 30, 2014 12:52 PM

        The Phillies got the best player in the deal for Pence. And the Phillies had no place for Singleton anyway, and Cosart has been no great shakes. It’s not like he traded away can’t-miss prospects. And the Oswalt trade was a plus for the Phillies too. Basically, I’d say that Wade was the only GM that made RAJ seem somewhat competent.
        God, I hate you for making me try to find ways to defend RAJ…

      • db9

        July 31, 2014 02:12 AM

        What on Earth are you talking about that they had nowhere to play Singleton? Do you not remember Ryan Howard 10 years ago? Was blocked by Jim Thome and didn’t become a full time regular until age 25.

        Singleton is 22 and would still be in AAA if he were here and considering there have been rumors that the Phils were shipping him around offering to eat most of the contact and take nothing of value in return just to get him off the the roster plus rumblings that they are considering cutting Howard in the off season, there most certainly would have been room.

      • Greg

        July 31, 2014 08:41 AM

        Even if the rumors are true, how likely are they to actually move Howard, really?
        Unless they outright release him, Howard is here through 2016. So trading Singleton for a shot at another WS was the right move at the time. I’ve disagreed with almost every move RAJ has made, but the Pence deal is not one of them. Pence played great for the year the Phillies had him, and Singleton is still an unproven prospect.
        Also, he’s probably a DH in the longterm (not that Howard should really be playing 1B either).

  5. eddie

    July 30, 2014 12:39 PM

    Other than Bastardo, I’d bet nobody is getting dealt. Amaro has consistently overvalued his own players, and I’d bet he is simply unable to see Lee, Utley, etc. as the declining assets they are.

    Also, tell me if I’m wrong, but ISTM all the other major deals we knew it was coming a few days out. Other than Byrd to Seattle, there haven’t been any concrete rumors, and I doubt his capacity to keep a major deal secret.

  6. GB

    July 30, 2014 04:32 PM

    The Phillies have indeed put themselves in a very bad situation…Amaro, Monty, Gillick, the whole lot of them. I agree we’ll see little movement at this deadline, maybe something in August and maybe a little more in the off-season, but this will be a very archiac and conservative process due to who the Phils have in charge. The organization needs a complete house cleaning and total changes in approach to evaluation, acquisition, development, payroll management and resource allocation. They better get going because one more year and we’re going to have more players getting benched, attendance continuing to drop, more media flare-ups, some outright releases

  7. Philly Fan in NY

    July 31, 2014 09:21 AM

    The biggest reason for the lack of trading has nothing to do with the Phillies price for each player, but rather that the demand curve has been shifted down substantially by two key factors, 1) is that the change in the playoff structure makes “taking a large gamble THIS year” far more risky. The WC is now a crap shoot and only division leaders – who are less likely to need to make a big move have confidence in a meaningful playoff run. 2) Salary cap and salary structure make it FAR more likely that certain players will clear waivers, thus reducing the pressure for a July 31 data and increasing the relevance of the August date. Net result, we may be asking for the right price in return, but the demand has risen to the right level yet. I rather think, as Paul pointed out, Patience is a virtue in this case.

  8. Beez Nutz

    July 31, 2014 12:45 PM

    so the Red Sox fresh off a WS trade

    Lackey, Lester and Peavy

    and manage to get an All Star OF, promising prospects and a serviceable Jon Jay.

    And still the phillies have not moved one player

    Fuck you Ruben

    • Beez Nutz

      July 31, 2014 12:50 PM

      Oh sorry somehow they got Allen Craig and Joe Kelly … no jon jay


      • Steve

        July 31, 2014 01:55 PM

        Lackey was one of the most valuable assets at the deadline. Due to a quirk in his contract, he is owed league minimum next year, or approximately $1 billion less than Cliff Lee.

      • Beez Nutz

        July 31, 2014 03:23 PM


        I mean more in terms of the Red Sox doing exactly what the hell the Phils should be doing. I dont understand that.

    • batterseye

      July 31, 2014 02:03 PM

      The MLB TRADE DEADLINE really does show Baseball World who have the savvy, skills, and ability to interpret stats, and scout to pull off meaningful trades.. Obviously, certain teams elude a air of trust that other teams are willing to & want to do business with them

      The Phillies front office look like buffoons – in the contracts, drafting, scouting, and negotiations

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