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What Phillies' inability to make a deadline deal might really mean

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For weeks, there had been rumors about which Phillies would stay or go when the July 31st trade deadline approached.

 

Well, the deadline came and went- and everybody’s still here.

 

To some, it’s an outrage. To others, it’s not the worst thing. Either way, there’s probably several reasons things happened the way they did. Some might apply more than others, but I think this pretty much covers it.

 

Let’s break them down:

 

1. Ruben Amaro wasn't happy with what the other teams proposed-

 

While it wasn’t really clear which players the Phillies were even asking for in exchange for the players they were offering, Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts for Cliff Lee was reportedly a deal  Ruben Amaro was trying to get done. Boston was apparently not willing to give up Bogaerts while taking on Lee’s massive contract.

 

Truth is, the Phillies didn’t need to trade Lee. It’s not like he’s a free agent after this year and if Amaro doesn’t get fair value in return, it’s like the Curt Schilling and Scott Rolen trades all over again. However, you have to wonder if Amaro was asking too much for some of his players.

 

Which brings me to my next question....

 

 

2. Who really wants this group of Phillies players?

 

 It’s no secret that this Phillies team is an aging one. The player with obviously the most value on the team is Lee, but that contract is a tough one to move. We all love Carlos Ruiz, but what team would seriously inquire about a 34-year old catcher coming off a 25-game suspension whose better days apparently are behind him? And what could you even get for him? Even though Amaro allegedly told the Yankees Ruiz wasn’t available, the same goes for Michael Young, who only posts average numbers at best at this point in his career. What are you realistically even going to get for these guys? Mid-level prospects?

 

Then there’s Jonathan Papelbon, who thinks the Phillies need lots of changes. Only thing is, those changes should involve him. Decreased velocity on his fastball and his five blown saves haven’t exactly helped the Phillies this year. Moreover, his rather expensive contract along with with his declining performance doesn’t exactly have teams knocking on the door inquiring about his services. They might not have any luck doing so, but something tells me the Phillies couldn’t have been too happy with Papelbon’s comments and may still try to unload him in the offseason.

 

As for Chase Utley, teams can inquire about him all they want. But the bottom line is that Amaro wants to make Utley a Phillie for life- but at what cost to the organization and the team’s future?

 

The Phillies are reportedly working on a contract extension with Utley. But for the money they are throwing around, you can’t help but feel that’s not the wisest thing to do- no matter what Utley means to this organization. Should you give $13 million a year to a 34-year old former All-Star with two uncertain knees? Even though contenders probably inquired about Utley, what could they really give the Phillies in return that would make it worth the Phillies’ while?

 

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3. 2015 and the new television contract-

 

As much as Amaro might want to clean house, he really can’t. First off, Ryan Howard’s contract will be an albatross for several more seasons and Jimmy Rollins will apparently not waive his no trade clause. Amaro can get younger, but he has to balance his veterans to go with his younger players. It’s a fine line- especially when your franchise has a potential $4-5 billion dollar television contract waiting in the wings. If the team shows severe signs of decline, that value will go down drastically. If the Phillies manage to get through the next few seasons and hit pay dirt, they will officially become the Yankees of the National League.

 

Of course, there is still the waiver deadline deal, but chances are nothing major will transpire for the rest of the year involving this Phillies squad.

 

Stay tuned.


 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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