Bill Conlin: Is there a deal Werth making for Phillies?

Phillies reliever J.C. Romero goes back for his shoe after covering first base and getting Rockies' Jason Giambi out in eighth inning.
Phillies reliever J.C. Romero goes back for his shoe after covering first base and getting Rockies' Jason Giambi out in eighth inning.
Posted: July 27, 2010

IF RUBEN AMARO JR. becomes a buyer by the non-waiver trade deadline Saturday, it will not be for the sake of "doing something."

It figures to be a reaLee big something if the beLeeguered GM goes Full Monty - no

offense, Dave.

And the Full Monty in this case would take a big bite out of the history written by the championship Phillies teams of 2008 and 2009. Gone, but not forgotten, would be the World Series rings of rightfielder Jayson Werth and lefthander J.A. Happ.

Rays special assignment scout Mike Cubbage, a versatile middle infielder from the 1970s, continued his Werth vigil during yesterday's harrowing, 5-4 brooming of the Rockies. Werth did not start. During the Hell Week the trade deadline has become for a lot of mentioned players, the sudden disappearance of a prominent regular from a lineup could be a press conference forerunner. In this case, it was just Charlie Manuel having some lineup fun. And weekend hero Ross Gload rewarded his skipper again by triggering a three-run, secondinning rally with a leadoff single.

Werth replaced Gload in right, led off the seventh inning and launched a scout-neutralizing fly to center. The last time Werth homered, June 23, 31 games ago, the Gulf of Mexico was only 1 billion quarts low.

So what are the chances Junior can replicate the blockbuster that put Cliff Lee in the region's collective hearts and minds a year ago?

According to a flurry of tweets and twitters given flight by twemendously connected seamheads yesterday, the Roy Oswalt half of the Phillies nuke probably isn't going to happen. I mean, the Astros veteran righthander was telling his own media more than a week ago that he didn't want to go to a destination with a media that runs a fullcourt press, pun intended. He also sounded pretty adamant about his new team picking up the 2012 option year of his contract.

Had Amaro persuaded the Teflonics to pick up that $16.5 million manhole cover it would have been certification of the popular premise that the Lee trade for second-tier prospects was an act of inexplicable, penny-wise, poundfoolishness.

And everybody who has downloaded a "How to Build a Nuke at Home" kit knows it takes a trigger of conventional explosives to set off the fusion process. And without a Happ (plus some bodies) trigger, whatever Werth generates in return will have to supply the juice.

The rumored deal that apparently has melted cell phone towers between here and the Rays offices in St. Petersburg, Fla., only makes sense if the Phillies get a righthanded hitter back with some all-around skills. (A Werth deal is, after all, mainly about the money, and the Rays would probably have to pass along the free-agent-to-be.)

In other words, Amaro would have to get Rays' 25-year-old B.J. (Born Jogging) Upton, an underachiever who has put up some important numbers during his turbulent time by Tampa Bay despite occasional lapses of hustle and baseball smarts. The Rays are a sharp organization with a deep farm system. But prospects won't cut it for a Phillies team married to the Now of what appeared to be a lost season just five games ago. Now, factoring in the four-game home sweep of the first-place Reds with the quadro-sweep of the crumbling Rocks, the Phillies have suddenly won 10 of their last 16 wrapped around the break. A 2-6 road trip is always more edible when part of a sandwich.

Whereas Ruben turns Trappist monk during Deadline Week, the Rays have admitted their interest in Werth and willingness to part with top prospects at the Tim Beckham and Alex Colome level. They have kind of ruled out trading from the nucleus that has them in the hunt in the powerful American League East.

Upton has been scuffling along at the .228 level. A centerfielder by trade, he has also seen time at third and second. His biggest asset is speed, when he chooses to use it. Despite his still attractive age, B.J. is well removed from a 2007 season when he batted .300 with 24 homers in 129 games. In 2008, the former No. 2 pick overall in the 2002 draft batted .273 in 145 games with just nine homers and has had a bull's-eye on his back ever since. He makes $3 million this season on a 1-year contract after being whipped in arbitration. He is arbitration eligible and won't break the bank with his current numbers.

Meanwhile, Brad Lidge continues to age the manager and fans by dog years. In back-to-back outings that produced nails-on-a-blackboard finishes, the once dominant closer needed 64 pitches - 34 yesterday - to seal the deals.

Who can blame RAJ for wanting to fire up the Enola Gay?

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