Inside the Phillies: Phillies should not be big buyers in trade market

Centerfielder Shane Victorino, a potential free agent, might not draw full value in a trade.
Centerfielder Shane Victorino, a potential free agent, might not draw full value in a trade. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 25, 2012

Stand Pat.

That was the unflattering nickname attached to Pat Gillick at one point during his tenure as general manager with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Stand Pat had some terrific teams in Toronto. The Blue Jays won 86 games or more from 1983 through 1990, collecting a couple of American League East titles along the way.

Gillick, after joining the Blue Jays when they entered the American League as an expansion team in 1977, built a tremendous farm system with the help of a sensational team of scouts.

There became a point, however, when he needed to do something more. He needed to make a trade. He needed to shed the Stand Pat stigma.

When Gillick finally made the trade so many had been waiting for, it was a blockbuster: Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez were sent to San Diego for Joe Carter and Robby Alomar. Gillick won the trade and two World Series with Carter and Alomar.

He was Stand Pat no more. A bunch of other trades he made later helped lead to two World Series titles with Toronto, two playoff appearances in Baltimore, a 116-win season in Seattle, and another World Series title with the Phillies in 2008.

Ruben Amaro Jr. replaced Gillick as the Phillies GM shortly after the team celebrated its second World Series title.

Standing pat in the offseason or at the trade deadline has never been Amaro's modus operandi. You could easily argue that his ambitious trades and free-agent signings have stripped the farm system of too much talent and pushed the payroll to the point where there is not enough flexibility.

It's difficult to watch the development of Jonathan Singleton in Houston's minor-league system, and Travis d'Arnaud and Anthony Gose in Toronto's system, especially when the Phillies are at the bottom of the National League East. All three of those guys will play in the Futures Game next month in Kansas City and they appear headed for future games, possibly as stars, at the big-league level.

None of the deals Amaro made for those guys has been enough to get the Phillies another World Series title. The deal that sent Gose to Toronto through Houston was for Roy Oswalt, who now works for the Texas Rangers.

Singleton was part of the Hunter Pence trade last July, and the Phillies rightfielder with the .205 batting average with runners in scoring position is not nearly as popular this summer as he was a year ago when he was still playing in Houston.

Roy Halladay was obtained in the d'Arnaud deal and right now he's recovering from a sore shoulder. The same day as the Halladay trade, Amaro tried to get young talent coming back his way by sending Cliff Lee to Seattle, but the jury remains unconvinced that any of the prospects obtained will ever play a valuable role in Philadelphia.

Regardless of what you thought about any of those trades or even the free-agent signings of Lee and Jonathan Papelbon, Amaro's intentions were always good. He wanted to win another World Series with the core group that was still in its prime.

Now, the core has aged faster than anticipated, with the two biggest pieces - Ryan Howard and Chase Utley - going through the mother of all extended spring trainings.

Given all that has happened and the current position of the team, it is time for Amaro to stand pat.

The Phillies should not be buyers, at least not in the sense they have been in recent years when they've added big names like Lee, Oswalt, and Pence. If they can add some veteran bullpen help without giving away much talent in exchange, then that's a worthwhile move.

The Phillies do not have a wealth of top prospects at the high minor-league levels to trade, but they must keep the few they do have.

If the deadline additions of Utley, Howard, and Halladay are not enough to earn the second wild card or something better, then so be it. Take your lumps for this year and regroup in the offseason.

A team with the highest payroll in the National League should be able to retool quickly.

The Phillies, like every bad team, also have the option of becoming sellers. They have some fine merchandise in the tool shed, too.

Cole Hamels, especially for a team that believes it can sign him to a long-term deal, could bring a load of young talent in this direction.

The more prudent move would be signing Hamels before the deadline. If the Phillies dangle the right numbers in front of Hamels' agent, John Boggs, a deal will get done.

Remaining in Philadelphia with a rotation that includes Halladay and Lee is still alluring, especially if Hamels can get the same amount of dollars the Phillies gave Lee.

Having that trio at the top of the starting rotation remains an outstanding formula for winning it all.

Shane Victorino, the Phillies' other potential big-name free agent, will also draw interest from teams in contention, but probably more so as a rental player. That means the prospect or prospects the team gets in return are not likely to be top quality.

There's a decent chance this will be Victorino's final season in Philadelphia, and he has played through some injuries that have probably hurt his overall numbers. Rather than get a fringe prospect for him, the Phillies should keep him and see if they can make a run at a postseason berth that seems unlikely at the moment.

Stand Pat.

That used to be Pat Gillick's nickname, but this summer it's the best advice for Ruben Amaro Jr.


Inside the Phillies: Amaro's Deadline Deals

Here's a look at trade deadline deals made by Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. (left) and how the players sent elsewhere are faring. All statistics are through Thursday's games.

JULY 29, 2009

RHP Carlos Carrasco, IF Jason Donald, RHP Jason Knapp, and C Lou Marson are traded to Cleveland for LHP Cliff Lee and OF Ben Francisco.

COMMENTS: Carrasco, 25, is 10-15 with a 4.93 ERA in 33 career starts for the Indians and is likely out for this entire season after undergoing Tommy John surgery last September. . . . Donald, 27, has hit .264 in 143 games as a utility infielder with the Indians. He is currently playing at triple-A Columbus. . . . Knapp, 21, has not pitched since the 2010 season because of a shoulder injury. . . . Marson, 25, is the Indians' backup catcher.

JULY 29, 2010

LHP J.A. Happ, OF Anthony Gose, and SS Jonathan Villar are traded to Houston for RHP Roy Oswalt.

COMMENTS: Happ, 29, is 16-26 with a 4.93 ERA in 55 career starts with the Astros, including a 5-7 record and 5.15 ERA this season. . . . Gose, 21, was immediately traded to Toronto for 1B Brett Wallace and is now playing at triple-A Las Vegas. He is hitting .294 with 14 doubles, nine triples, three home runs, and 26 stolen bases in 31 attempts. . . . Villar, 21, is hitting .261 with five home runs and 34 RBIs with Houston's double-A Corpus Christi team. He has made 21 errors this season.

JULY 29, 2011

1B Jonathan Singleton, RHP Jarred Cosart, RHP Josh Zeid, and OF Domingo Santana are traded to Houston for RF Hunter Pence.

COMMENTS: Singleton, 20, is hitting .273 with 13 doubles, 11 home runs, and 42 RBIs at Corpus Christi. He has a .389 on-base percentage. . . . Cosart, 22, is 3-4 with a 4.00 ERA for Corpus Christi. He also pitched one game this season for triple-A Oklahoma City. . . . Zeid, 25, is 2-0 with a 6.30 ERA and one save in 26 relief appearances at Corpus Christi. . . . Santana, 19, is hitting .283 with 12 doubles, five triples, nine home runs, and 41 RBIs at single-A Lancaster.

- Bob Brookover


Contact Bob Brookover

at bbrookover@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @brookob.

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