Amaro: No plans to trade starting pitchers
ATLANTA -- Ruben Amaro Jr. wants to keep his starting pitching rotation intact.
“That’s what the plan is right now,” he said before Friday’s night game against the Braves. “Plans can change. But that’s the plan right now.”
Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay aren’t going anywhere. Cliff Lee’s name has been bandied about as a possible trade candidate before Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline. Without using Lee’s name, Amaro indicated Friday that he wasn’t looking to deal one of his top starters. But you never know with Amaro. In December 2010 he denied that he was a player for Lee only to sign the free agent a few days later.
Best guess: The Phillies hang on to Lee for the remainder of the season and possibly listen to offers in the off-season. Keeping Lee now would allow him to build value after four inconsistent months this season. It would also allow the Phils more time to gauge Halladay’s health and effectiveness. (It might be difficult to deal Lee if the 35-year-old Halladay proves to be on a serious down slope.) Keeping Lee would also allow the Phils to keep intact what would be the strength of their club – starting pitching – if they could somehow rally and make the postseason.
That, of course, will not be easy. The Phils entered Friday night’s game with an 8-4 record since the All-Star break and had only picked up a half-game in the wild-card race. (They were 9 1/2 games back.)
Amaro acknowledged before Friday night’s game that the situation would become “daunting” for the Phils if they were swept in Atlanta. Being swept would probably push the Phils to sell off talent before Tuesday’s trade deadline. Outfielder Shane Victorino is the Phillie most likely to be dealt with the Giants, Dodgers, Pirates and Reds all interested. So far, no team has met the Phils’ price for Victorino and the Phils won’t give him away.
The Phils would listen on Hunter Pence, but they’d have to receive a very handsome return to move an important righthanded bat that is under control for next season. It’s possible that Pence could be moved in the off-season when the Phils have adequate time to figure out who his replacement would be.
Amaro has brought a cadre of advisers – Scott Proefrock, Benny Looper, Mike Ondo – with him on this trip as he continues to speak with rival teams about deals. The Phils’ focus seems to be on acquiring players that can help this year and beyond.
“We’ve done a lot of trades with ourselves,” Amaro said with a chuckle. “We’ve got a lot of balls in the air, but that’s standard operating procedure for this time of year.
“Trades have to work two ways. Somebody has to want to trade with you.”
E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org.