Phillies Notebook: Sandberg won't entertain trade rumors

ASSOCIATED PRESS Mets' Juan Lagares reacts in front of Phillies' Jimmy Rollins after hitting a first-inning, two-run, double last night.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Mets' Juan Lagares reacts in front of Phillies' Jimmy Rollins after hitting a first-inning, two-run, double last night.
Posted: July 30, 2014

NEW YORK - Ryne Sandberg doesn't waste too much brain space on thinking about what could happen in the hours leading up to Thursday's 4 p.m. nonwaiver trade deadline.

In the modern day of instantaneous reporting, with the rumor du jour (translation: day) from 10 years ago becoming the rumor d'huere (translation: hour) in the Twitter era, there is certainly a lot of nonsense to sift through. Sandberg doesn't bother, and he wants to make sure his players aren't sucked in, either.

"I addressed it about a week ago, had a full team meeting about that," Sandberg said yesterday afternoon at Citi Field. "Just my experiences - you hear rumors and sometimes nothing happens, sometimes very little happens. So just stressing to them the focus of the game at hand, being a team right here, right now and playing the games. Dealing with what's at hand here, with a game every day."

It's only human nature to be curious, though. Especially if it's your name involved in those rumors and you don't have any control on whether you'll be working at a new place of business before the end of the week.

The reality is given the way the Phillies do business - they swooped in and signed Cliff Lee off the free-agent market three winters ago after a stealth pursuit - no one is going to know until the very minute they have to know. Yesterday, Sandberg said he doesn't expect anything to go down until "very late in the process."

Here's what he does know: If the Phillies do make trades, he expects them to get back players who will help his team in 2015, if not sooner.

"It's about winning games," Sandberg said, when asked if change for the sake of change was good enough for a last-place team in need of a new energy. "So whatever the combination is, I don't think change is for change. If it's about improving the team, improving the team going forward and for next year, in the short term."

Which leads to the interesting rumor de jour from yesterday, when at about the same time Sandberg spoke to the press corps before batting practice, a foxsports.com reporter alerted Twitter with the news that the Phillies had made Cole Hamels available.

The reality: Hamels, and every Phillies player, have been available for some time. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has said repeatedly he doesn't have any untouchables on his roster; thus, anyone is available for the right price.

Since Hamels is under contract at a reasonable price for one of the top pitchers in the game - at least 4 years, at a minimum of $96 million - Hamels is a better get for contending teams than what they might hope to see on the free-agent market. Plus he could help that team's pursuit of a World Series this year, unlike those upcoming free agents.

The Phillies would want a very generous collection of prospects back, and that's even if they would seriously consider trading Hamels in the first place. Hamels, 30, is the only star on their roster still in his prime.

Listening and actively trying to trade are two very different things.

Amaro has also said repeatedly that the Phillies do not expect to undergo a 5-year rebuilding plan. If the Phils hope to contend within the next 2 years, which Sandberg would seem to expect, then the Hamels rumor was the latest the manager would let go in one ear and out the other without wasting too much of his time contemplating it.

Ryne on Ruf

Darin Ruf was out of the starting lineup for the second time in three games after starting three straight in place of Ryan Howard. While he clearly wanted to give Howard a mental break, Sandberg said last week he also wanted to see what Ruf could do.

So what was his impression of Ruf's mini-tryout last week?

"With his approach, I like when he's on the aggressive side of things," Sandberg said. "Some times he can get a little over-patient. But when he's aggressive and goes up to swing the bat, it allows him a chance to have two or three swings in an at-bat. I saw one or two at-bats where that was the case and saw some results."

Since being summoned to the big leagues last week, Ruf has hit .182 (2-for-11) with a double, two walks and three strikeouts entering yesterday. In 98 career big-league games, Ruf is hitting .249 with an .822 OPS, 18 home runs, 38 walks and 110 strikeouts.Even if Howard is back getting regular at-bats at first base, Ruf could be an option in leftfield, where he started on Saturday. Phillies leftfielders entered yesterday with a .579 OPS, worst in baseball.

Phillers

According to multiple reports, the Phillies will hold a private workout for Cuban defector Rusney Castillo today in Florida. The Phils were among 28 teams to scout the 27-year-old outfielder this weekend at the University of Miami . . . When Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 25th save of the season on Sunday, he became just the fifth pitcher in baseball history to record 25 or more saves for nine straight seasons. The others: Mariano Rivera (15 seasons), Lee Smith (13), John Wetteland (nine) and Troy Percival (nine) . . . The Phillies released outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr., 31, who hit .163 in 67 games before being designated for assignment last week.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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