Paul Hagen | Phillies have little to offer for pitching help

Posted: July 13, 2007

NEWS ITEM: An overwhelming 70 percent of those who responded to a philly.com poll believe the Phillies should trade for Florida's Dontrelle Willis before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

And let's hope Santa leaves that pony manager Charlie Manuel has been wanting under his Christmas tree this year, too.

There's no guarantee the Marlins will trade Willis. If they do, it probably won't be to an NL East rival. And even if they do, the Phillies don't have the abundance of young talent that it would take to get him.

Meanwhile, back in the world where death and taxes still exist, the reality is that it will be really difficult for general manager Pat Gillick to pull a starter like Jamie Moyer out of his hat this year.

San Francisco righthander Matt Morris would be a coup. But a lot of vultures are circling AT&T Park right now. If the Giants part with Morris, they probably will want a proven closer and a proven bat in return. If they do, the Phillies don't match up.

Javier Vazquez would be a good get, even though he'll make $34.5 million the next 3 years. Lately, though, White Sox general manager Kenny Williams has downplayed the idea that he is looking to sell. Even if they do, you still have to wonder what the Phillies could part with that would interest the Sox. After all, if they want Aaron Rowand back, he can be a free agent at the end of the season.

If the Astros make Jason Jennings available, they'll probably want more in return than the Phillies can offer, too.

Instead, these are the sorts of names likely to be available for what the Phillies can give up: Baltimore's Steve Trachsel, the White Sox' Jose Contreras, Cincinnati's Kyle Lohse and Kansas City's Odalis Perez. And, frankly, none appears to be the answer.

So it looks as if the Phillies will just have to settle for a neat, new sled, a shiny bicycle and a couple of pair of socks in December.

The hot corner

-- If owner George Steinbrenner is behind the reported overture to buy Alex Rodriguez out of his opt-out clause, that would seem to undermine general manager Brian Cashman, who said this spring he had no plans to extend A-Rod's contract or even talk about it during the season.

-- If owner is behind the reported overture to buy out of his opt-out clause, that would seem to undermine general manager who said this spring he had no plans to extend A-Rod's contract or even talk about it during the season.

-- The next two All-Star Games will be in New York's Yankee Stadium and Busch Stadium in St. Louis. There has been no announcement beyond that, but the favorite host teams to follow appear to be the Angels (2010), Nationals, Padres or Reds (2011), Royals (2012) and Mets (2013).

Around the bases

-- Greg Maddux will start back-to-back games for the Padres. Sort of. Maddux was on the mound for Sunday's game against the Braves that ended the first half, and is scheduled to start tonight when San Diego resumes play at Arizona. One reason is that both Jake Peavy and Chris Young appeared in the All-Star Game.

-- will start back-to-back games for the Padres. Sort of. Maddux was on the mound for Sunday's game against the Braves that ended the first half, and is scheduled to start tonight when San Diego resumes play at Arizona. One reason is that both and appeared in the All-Star Game.

-- Though this year's All-Star Game's audience of 12.5 million was the second smallest ever, that's still about as many as this year's NFL Pro Bowl and NBA and NHL All-Star Games combined, according to the New York Times.

On deck

CHEERS: For Nationals lefthander Matt Chico. After giving up eight runs against the Tigers on June 18, Chico was 3-5 with a 5.35 earned run average. The organization was beginning to wonder whether a kid who never pitched above Double A before this season needed to go back to the minors.

CHEERS: For Nationals lefthander Matt Chico. After giving up eight runs against the Tigers on June 18, Chico was 3-5 with a 5.35 earned run average. The organization was beginning to wonder whether a kid who never pitched above Double A before this season needed to go back to the minors.

In three starts since, he's 1-0, 0.47.

"Nothing fazes him," manager Manny Acta marveled. "We haven't had to have a pep talk with him, because he's proven that, when he has a rough outing, he comes back and has a good one."

JEERS: To Marlins third baseman Miguel Cabrera. He's a terrific player. He has tons of talent. He's still only 24. His future seems unlimited and, frankly, he has enough natural ability to make more money than he could possibly spend in several lifetimes before his career is over, maybe even go to the Hall of Fame.

Still, there's a growing sense around baseball that he's cheating himself by not staying in top condition. "He's below average defensively," one scout told the Miami Herald. "His range is limited. I don't see as quick reactions as before."

Cabrera will probably continue to be really good, no matter what. But he has a chance to be great. It's up to him.

BY THE NUMBERS

0: Extra-base hits for Rangers All-Star shortstop Michael Young since June 15. He set a club record with 52 doubles last year.

14: Wins for the first-place Mets from June 1 to the All-Star break, the fewest of any team except the non-contending Giants (13), Devil Rays (12) and Orioles (11).

204: Consecutive plate appearances for Kansas City's Tony Pena Jr. without a walk. According to retrosheet.org, only nine other players in the last 50 years have had as many as 200 plate appearances without at least one base on balls.

UP NEXT

The second half of the season is under way, and that's better news for some teams than others. The Yankees open with 28 straight games against teams that had losing records at the break, and the Indians playing 16 of their first 27 against teams under .500.

Then there are the Devil Rays. They have the worst record in baseball and still must play the Red Sox (15 times), Yankees (14), Angels (6), Tigers (4), Athletics (4), Mariners (4) and Indians (3).

Weeklies

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Devil Rays outfielder Carl Crawford, on hitting a home run in the All-Star Game: "I'm glad I was able to show I can play and that I'm not one of those charity cases coming to the game."

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Devil Rays outfielder Carl Crawford, on hitting a home run in the All-Star Game: "I'm glad I was able to show I can play and that I'm not one of those charity cases coming to the game."

CONSPIRACY THEORY OF THE WEEK: Former Mariners manager Mike Hargrove knows there will always be people who believe that his abrupt resignation earlier this month and Ichiro Suzuki's new $100 million contract, expected to be announced today, are somehow connected.

"It [resignation] had nothing to do with me and Ichiro. If it had come down to that, they would have had to fire me," he said. "People are going to believe what they want. If it comes down to an implied conspiracy or the truth, you know which way people are going to go."

INSTANT REPLAY OF THE WEEK: Tony La Russa, the National League All-Star manager, now says that if he had it to do all over again, he would have let Albert Pujols bat for Aaron Rowand in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and the NL down by a run.

"Upon further review, I would have let Pujols bat, just for the drama of the All-Star Game," La Russa told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's one of the marquee events. It would have been great theater ... Looking back, I should have gone for entertainment."

He didn't back off his earlier explanation that, from a baseball perspective, he needed to hold his last position player in reserve. "If something bad had happened, I would not have put any of those pitchers in the outfield. I would have pulled my team off the field and forfeited the game," he added.

Pujols, meanwhile, who was upset right after the game at not playing, now says there are no hard feelings.

"People want to start World War III with me and Tony, and I think they're picking the wrong person," he said yesterday during a workout. "I've got so much respect for Tony, and he's got so much respect for me."

Finally

Commissioner Bud Selig noted this week that fewer players are inventing excuses not to go to the All-Star Game. He's right. He attributed that to the fact that homefield advantage in the World Series goes to the winner of the game. He might be wrong.

Commissioner noted this week that fewer players are inventing excuses not to go to the All-Star Game. He's right. He attributed that to the fact that homefield advantage in the World Series goes to the winner of the game. He might be wrong.

It takes a lot to dazzle a millionaire, but several All-Stars were agog at the all the free stuff they got: All-Star merchandise, expensive sunglasses, Apple TVs and other assorted gadgets and gear were all there for the taking. Each player and his family were taken to a room and told to help themselves to all they wanted.

"When it's free, you grab three," a clearly impressed Twins centerfielder Torii Hunter said. So maybe it's not homefield advantage or league pride after all. Maybe it's all about the free goodies.

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