By: Seth Everett
If you are reading this on Monday, July 18, 2011, then there are 16 days left until the Trade Deadline. Between the interviews I’ve been doing and talking to callers on all the CBS Radio platforms, everyone wants to talk trades.
I’ve heard blockbuster rumors for this Phillies team, based on their track records of acquiring such aces as Cliff Lee & Roy Oswalt at the deadline. This time, I don’t think a blockbuster is coming, and more importantly, I don’t think one is necessary.
The 3 areas in which the Phillies could upgrade are obvious. They could use a right-handed bat to play in the outfield. They could use another setup man in the bullpen. Now, with Placido Polanco’s back sending him to the DL, fans want another 3rd baseman.
Those types of additions would be welcome, but now here comes the reality check. Are those needs or wants? The Phillies do have the best record in baseball, and if you count the Wild Card, they have an 8 ½ game lead on the playoffs for 2011. That may not be the ultimate goal, but there are other factors to consider:
This team has the highest payroll in franchise history. In the past, blockbusters required ownership to put up some more money to accommodate these blockbuster trades. This year, the payroll is already in excess of $170 million. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard that the team is only about $2 million under the MLB Luxury Tax Threshold. That has nothing to do with the debt issues that they have with Major League Baseball, which I’m sure have no bearing on the trade stuff.
To be able to acquire such assets and stay under $2 million is nearly impossible, and the Phillies’ best tradable contract, Joe Blanton, suffered a setback in his rehab over the weekend.
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There doesn’t seem to be any financial maneuverability, and then you have to weigh the needs for this team vs. the financial demands. If I thought these trades were necessary, then I’d say that. These needs are not really needs, they are fan wants.
I learned this weekend that the Minnesota Twins are not trading Michael Cuddyer. Josh Willingham of the A’s is on the block, but I think John Mayberry can do just as well as he can. Ryan Ludwick is expensive. Heath Bell is simply unnecessary.
Ruben Amaro Jr. is a creative GM. He built a quality team. This team will only do well in the playoffs if the superstars play like superstars. Their names are Utley, Rollins, Howard and Victorino.
Outside help is a luxury the Phillies simply don’t need.