Phillies Notebook: Phillies finding their way around the blocks

ASSOCIATED PRESS Phillies' Jake Diekman sits in dugout with his head in his hands after giving up four of the Tigers' eight runs in sixth inning.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Phillies' Jake Diekman sits in dugout with his head in his hands after giving up four of the Tigers' eight runs in sixth inning.
Posted: July 30, 2013

DETROIT - The sense right now inside the Phillies organization is that Michael Young is the only person who can prevent a Michael Young trade. The veteran third baseman has a no-trade clause that he can use to facilitate his landing spot, and yesterday he acknowledged that waiving it for the right circumstance is something that he would consider.

While Young is hampered by his poor range defensively, he is hitting .277 with a .342 on-base percentage and .402 slugging percentage in 395 plate appearances, production that would appeal to several contenders looking for a righthanded bat who can play the infield. In May, he took some time off to go home to Texas, where his son was battling a serious illness. Otherwise, he is one of the few members of the team who has remained in the lineup on an everyday basis.

"The first thing I want to do is talk to the Phillies about that," Young said. "Ruben [Amaro] has been very up front with me since Day 1. The entire organization has. What I went through back in May [with a son's illness], they stood by me the entire time. I certainly appreciate it. Any conversation that has to do with trades will be with them first."

It's hard to expect that the Phillies would get much in the way of talent for Young, who is 36 years old and will be a free agent after the season. None of the players acquired for Shane Victorino, Jim Thome or Hunter Pence last season came close to helping the team this year. In fact, Josh Lindblom, a reliever acquired in the Victorino trade, was dealt to Texas this offseason in the trade that brought Young to Philadelphia. The Phillies owe Young roughly $2.1 million for the rest of the season.

The biggest question marks are Jonathan Papelbon and Chase Utley, for differing reasons. After yesterday's ugly 12-4 loss to the Tigers, Papelbon told MLB.com that the organization needed changes "from the top down." Some would argue that ridding themselves of Papelbon's monstrous contract - he is still owed roughly $26 million for 2014 and 2015 and has a vesting option for 2016 - is one of the changes the Phillies should pursue first. Problem is, Papelbon has raised a number of red flags with his performance as of late. His fastball has been sitting in the 90 to 91 mph range, down from 94 to 95 last season. His strikeout rate has dropped from 12.2 K/9 in 2011 to 11.8 K/9 in 2012 to 7.9 K/9 this season. Opposing hitters are swinging and missing less often, and he has blown five saves, his most since 2010. If a desperate general manager is willing to give up a strong prospect in exchange for the Phillies eating a significant chunk of Papelbon's contract, it is something that they should consider. But it is unclear if any GM would be willing to do even that.

Utley would immediately become the most sought after player available before Wednesday's non-waiver trade deadline. But he, too, would likely have to waive a no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to all but eight teams. And the Phillies would have to get over their sentimental hesitance in order to ask him to do that.

One player opposing GM's can cross off their shopping list is Jimmy Rollins, who can block a deal to any team.

"There are still a couple things I would like to be No. 1 on the lists of in this organization," Rollins said yesterday, "so until those things are done, I'm not going anywhere."


On Twitter: @ByDavidMurphy

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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