Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Let's Make a Deal

An interesting discussion in the comments section of my last post concerns how hard the Phillies should be pressing to make a trade, and for whom. My argument boils down to this: The team as currently constructed is not succeeding, nor do I see it doing so come late September. The talent, I think, is there, but something necessary and intangible is missing. Nobody seems to have any stones in the clubhouse, or any ability to shake off bad stuff and focus on the next game. The papers described the mood following last night's loss as funereal, and Rheal Cormier said "you could tell" that the Phillies believed themselves doomed while sitting out an eighth-inning rain delay down a run. "I feel that even though we're down a run or two, we should never be out of the game," he said. "There are a lot of times when you're walking off the field and you're down by one, you feel the game is over, and we still have one more inning to go. It's frustrating."

Something's not right. The 2004 Phillies, like the 2003 version, are something less than the sum of their parts -- even counting injuries.

My favored solution is to hire a new manager, but at this stage of the season, with just two months to go, that's not going to happen. It should have last November, should have this May, should this fall. But it won't happen now. Given that, you have to look at where and how to upgrade the roster.

And that's why Ed Wade has the town's toughest job right now. Would Steve Finley be an improvement over the three-headed monster of Ricky Ledee, Jason Michaels, and Doug Glanville? Probably, but he wants to stay out West. Would Kris Benson be better than Paul Abbott? Almost certainly, but he's likely to end up in Minnesota. Would Ron Villone provide a veteran presence in a bullpen stocked with Triple-A arms? Yes, but he's said to be off the market now.

Even if Wade can identify the right peg for the right hole, he has to ask: At what cost? Lots of Phillies want him to swing a deal, but concede that losing guys like Chase Utley, Ryan Madson, Cole Hamels, and Gavin Floyd is too high a price. Yet legitimate shots at a championship -- not the pie-in-the-sky, happy-to-be-here long shot that the '93 Phils were -- don't present themselves very often in South Philadelphia. And so it's hard to fault Rich Hofmann's argument in today's Daily News:

The fundamental divide- - whether they should husband their prospects or use them as chips in deals now, whether they should be patient or overpay for today -- remains in place. And we'll state the obvious again -- that the Phillies need to do something now, even it means taking a dip into the pool of the untouchables. The team needs it. The clubhouse needs it. The fans need it.

Does the clubhouse need it? There's no consensus among those who should know best. Similarly, those of us who watch with vested interest and write what we see and hope and believe are at a loss ourselves. Brian at the Citizens Report notes seasonlong problems and says, not unreasonably, "[Wade] has to come up with something or it's devastating. ... [W]e are three days away from the trade deadline ... nothing. All the while the team has been meandering around .500 since the All-Star break." But as Swing and a Miss's Tom Goodman points out, the pickings are pretty slim: "Nearly every hoagie shop patron in the Philadelphia area and many Phillies players willing to be quoted are imploring GM Ed Wade to do something before the July 31 trading deadline; but it doesn’t appear likely the acquisition of anyone short of Randy Johnson will help all that much unless, of course, Steve Carlton is reading this blog and can make it to South Florida before tonight’s game."

No doubt Lefty is too concerned with Zionist conspiracies and black helicopters to get involved at this point. But I wonder what Garry Maddox is doing these days ... .


At July 28, 2004 at 3:27 PM, Blogger Bill Liming said...

Maddox isn't likely to be an offensive upgrade over Glanville at this point, but he'd have been a damn sight less likely to blow Milton's no-no.

Plus, I hear he makes a mean rack of ribs.

At July 29, 2004 at 12:16 AM, Blogger Tom G. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At July 29, 2004 at 1:21 AM, Blogger gr said...

seriously, this florida business is killing me. i'm not sure why i even watched the game tonight (because i'm in VA and it was on espn, that's why). this team is the equivalent of the 1980 Carter campaign: hapless and doomed.

At July 29, 2004 at 2:57 AM, Blogger Brian said...

hapless and doomed, thats good. I doubt they will be picking up the Dems slogan that "Hope is coming". Where would it come from?

The pickings are slim, for what's out there. And that's Wade's fault too, these problems didn't pop up yesterday.

And while a rack of ribs for a batting Maddux, would sell me over Glanville any day of the week, I have a better one.

Rick Ankiel.

He's coming back, has some pop in his bat, and rumor has it can catch bloop flys in the outfield.

At July 29, 2004 at 10:36 AM, Blogger Tom G. said...

First of all, why does it say my earlier post was removed by author?

Anyway I agree wholeheartedly with it being difficult for Ed Wade to get something meaningful done in the next couple of days. As an eternal Phillies Pessimist expecting nothing significant to happen over the next couple of days, I was planning on writing about his hurdles after the deadline past. But all this discussion inspired me, so I made a post last night on B.S. & S.

Tom G.


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