It was not a great day for Ruben Amaro on Thursday. Perhaps the most important day of the season for a general manager flew by without any movement from the Phillies front office, Amaro opting to stand pat more so because he felt the other general managers were not playing the same game as he. Then, to make things worse, Cliff Lee had to leave Thursday night’s game in Washington in the third inning with his elbow flaring up. Not even a 10-4 win over the NL East-leading Nationals was enough to change the mood among Phillies fans.
“More surprised that there wasn’t more aggressive action from the other end,” Amaro said, according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. “We have some pretty good baseball players here.”
It is true. There are some pretty good baseball players on the Phillies roster. Unfortunately for the Phillies, those pretty good players have contracts that scare away potential trade partners. As we know by now and as was discussed at length everywhere from the local media to the national analysts on MLB Network and beyond yesterday, the Phillies have given plyers contracts far and above what any player may be valued at on the market. Amaro suggests the Phillies are not overvaluing their players, but that is exactly what they have done by determining the market themselves. David Murphy of The Philadelphia Daily News has an excellent takedown of the Amaro economics in play and just how the Phillies set themselves up for disaster.
— Macho Row (@Macho_Row) July 31, 2014
I was not expecting much from the Phillies on Thursday, although I am surprised te club was not able to move Marlon Byrd or Antonio Bastardo. I had no expectation Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon, Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins, Cliff Lee or Chase Utley were going anywhere whether because of price tags as high as Mount Everest or no-trade clauses. Vesting options kill deals, and that was the toughest hurdle for the Phillies to clear in receiving any aggressive interest from the rest of baseball. That responsibility falls on Amaro, but ownership needs to realize this as well.
— Macho Row (@Macho_Row) July 31, 2014
In fairness, I think there is a case for standing firm with the roster if the deals and offers to make their way to Amaro’s inbox do nothing to help the Phillies dig out of the hole that has been dug. If the plan was to buy out of contracts anyway possible, then the Phillies would have moved some players yesterday, I believe, but with diminishing attendance the Phillies must be wise with the budget. Forget for a moment that I am asking you to consider this organization is capable of managing a budget in this way, and forget who is responsible for the situation in place. If you just look at the situation facing the Phillies yesterday, regardless of how it got there, maybe the Phillies were wise to stay put at the deadline.
It would be unwise to move players if nothing is coming back in return. The Phillies are in need of players with a potential future at the big league level. If the prospects offered in return are not being offered, maybe it is best to hold off on any moves. It would be unwise for the Phillies to commit to paying off contracts in order to convince other teams to make a move, if the right ingredients are not coming to Philadelphia in return. On the surface, the Phillies failing to make any moves on Thursday is a letdown, but there is still time for something to happen. It is not as though the Phillies were going anywhere this season anyway, but now the Phillies will have to see if they can make any moves through the waiver deadline this month.
I do not wish this for anyone involved. I actually sort of like Amaro, and I love his story going from bat boy to player to general manager of the Phillies. What should be a great story does not appear to have a happy ending in the script. Amaro is getting slammed for Thursday’s inactivity, and it is justified. The problems the Phillies faced on Thursday at the deadline were years in the making, not from a lack of trying to do anything on Thursday. No matter how you look at it, Amaro may be running out of time to find a way to convince everybody else they are wrong.