You look at the Philadelphia Phillies roster and then their place in the standings and it would seem pretty obvious. The Phillies should have been sellers Thursday, the day of MLB's non-waiver trade deadline.
The San Diego Padres have been selling for weeks, and they actually have a better record than the Phils. The Cleveland Indians were selling. The Tampa Bay Rays were (sort of) selling. And they're both within sniffing distance of the playoffs. That goes to show there was value to be had and opportunistic teams weren't going to stand there and do nothing.
It was value, apparently, the Phillies either weren't interested in or, if you listen to general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., weren't being offered. Because the Phillies did nothing on trade deadline day.
No trades involving Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon or even Marlon Byrd. (There was that fake trade for Byrd, but that's another story). All of those players, all considered trade bait the past few weeks, will be in Phillies uniforms come Aug. 1.
According to Amaro, that's because other GMs around MLB weren't doing their jobs. From Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Amaro said Phillies did not ask for “top prospects.” Criticized other GMs for not being aggressive enough.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) July 31, 2014
Amaro called Marlon Byrd “one of the most productive righthanded bats in the game.” He was surprised no team stepped up.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) July 31, 2014
Well, Ruben, you might have a point there ... hold on, wait, what's that?
Marlon Byrd, by the way, has the 29th highest OPS (.795) among qualified righthanded hitters.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) July 31, 2014
The old "It's not me, it's them" defense doesn't fly here for Amaro. The Red Sox and their flurry of trades show what kind of return was waiting for teams willing to deal. By sitting on their hands and doing nothing, the Phillies only inspired more criticism. Like so:
The Phillies could make a swap before the waiver trade deadline on Aug. 31, and some of their high-priced players might work well in that type of deal. Players now have to pass through waivers unclaimed before they can be traded and not many teams will make waiver claims on bloated contracts.
So maybe Amaro will get to work in August and come away looking like a GM doing what it takes to make his team better. Or maybe he'll do nothing again and just look like a dude blowing hot, smelly air.
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