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.