Why The Phillies Failed At The Trade Deadline – Phillies Nation

Why The Phillies Failed At The Trade Deadline

Mo Money Mo Problems

Yesterday, the 4 PM MLB trade deadline came and went without a single move by the Phillies. Marlon Byrdthe player thought to be the most likely to be dealt, and the one who should have been dealt for at least something, didn’t go anywhere. A.J. Burnett wasn’t traded, and neither were Jonathan Papelbon, Cliff Lee, or Cole Hamels.

Around the league, Jon Lester was traded along with Jonny Gomes to the Athletics for Yoenis Cespedes. David Price was traded to the Tigers in a three team deal. John Lackey was sent to the Cardinals, and Martin Prado to the Yankees. The Phillies? Nada.

It’s hard to believe that the Phillies couldn’t find a suitor for any of their players. Byrd is hitting .270/.318/.477 & has the highest OPS on the team this year. Hamels has a 2.55 ERA (also a team best) and is one of the top left-handers in the game. Burnett & Lee have very good reputations, even though their 2014 numbers aren’t too remarkable. Papelbon is having a career year. And yet, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. could not find a trade partner for any of them.

It’s easy to get mad at him for not moving anyone yesterday, especially with quotes like this and this following the deadline. But the blame shouldn’t be on just yesterday itself. It wasn’t that he was incapable of making deals, or that the players weren’t good enough–it was the fact that he’s dished out contracts to these players that aren’t favorable to any potential suitors.

Marlon Byrd is due $8 million in 2015, and has a vesting option for 2016. A.J. Burnett would have likely been a very expensive rental. Cliff Lee is still due a ton of money. Jonathan Papelbon is, well, Jonathan Papelbon. He has a big contract, but he also would only accept a trade to a team if he would be the closer.

In other words, Amaro dug himself a hole.

You could argue that the players the Phillies had to offer weren’t of the quality that a lot of us thought. And that may be true, in the minds of some MLB GMs. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Amaro has quotes saying he “was surprised that teams weren’t more aggressive” in trading for any of his players, and the fact that those players have good stats, but unfavorable contracts.

All in all, Amaro failed at this deadline when he gave out the bad contracts, and his failure to trade some players in previous years. At the time, none of us knew just how bad the contracts would become, but this quote sums it up. He couldn’t even give the players away if he wanted to. For that reason, I think that this will be the last deadline that we will see with Amaro as Phillies GM. He had a chance to really turn the direction of the club around, and he failed to do so. He might have an opportunity to make some moves in August or the offseason–but that’s if he makes it that far. He seems to think he will. But I think it’s time for a change. I think this year should have been his “make or break” year. And unfortunately, I think it was a “break” year. For the sake of the franchise and for all Phillies fans, I hope David Montgomery agrees.



  1. Lefty

    August 1, 2014 at 8:44 am

    I’m no Amaro fan, believe me. I have been mostly disappointed in the way he runs the Phillies. Is it time for a change, yeah maybe- but I think he already is changing, for the better.

    There simply is nothing wrong with holding a hard line in this situation at the “non waiver” trade deadline. To paraphrase what commenter KenBland noted yesterday, buyers need to make desperation moves, not sellers. There simply is no reason to make bad deals now. The non waiver deadline is not the end of transactions in MLB. The biggest trade of this decade was made in AUGUST by the Red Sox and Dodgers. It couldn’t be that hard to get players through waivers, they traded NINE that day.

    Do the players have the value Amaro thinks they have? Probably not- but then again, why rush? Why not hold out for a best possible offer?

    One argument might be that he’s watching the world go by and missing out on the prospects.
    How many A-list prospects were moved yesterday?? The guy Obrien from the Yankees system with the 23 homers this season in Trenton might be a good player in 3 years. How may others?

    So who did Amaro miss out on by not making a deal yesterday?
    Buxton, Correa, Taveras,Baez, Gallo, Sano, Pedereson, Bryant?????

    Yes a few were traded, but there are still buckets full of these guys available. Most of the names traded yesterday were established vets. I like the hard line, I like that Amaro didn’t give the guys away. That’s just me I guess.

    • Jonathan Nisula

      August 1, 2014 at 9:47 am

      For Hamels, I agree. I never said holding onto him was a mistake. I simply mentioned him because he was rumored to be on the block.

      For the others, though, I don’t see their value getting much higher. I think their value will drop (especially Lee), and the Phillies will be stuck with them without getting *anything* back

      • Lefty

        August 1, 2014 at 2:35 pm

        Hey Jon,
        No doubt Lee’s value drops off the face of the earth. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t think he was a real trade target for other clubs until he proved he was sound physically anyway. He probably would have brought a good haul last year at this time, oh well. He’s ours now all the way through the deal.

        You are a great writer Jon and I enjoy your postings very much. We’ll just have to disagree on the change in value from yesterday to now I guess. I still expect trades though, it’s not over.

    • Scotty Ingerton

      August 1, 2014 at 9:49 am

      Houston made a great trade yesterday by landing Marisnick & Moran. Boston acquiring Eduardo Rodriguez was also a great move. Amaro simply has nothing to trade, mostly by his own doing. This is one of the least flexible rosters that you’ll ever see because of the combination of age, dollars, and crazy options.

      • Lefty

        August 1, 2014 at 10:06 am

        “mostly by his own doing”

        Well of course it is, and to repeat I’m no Amaro fan. I don’t disagree that he has a low flexibility situation. But I’m just saying I want to see them get “reasonable” value back, or salary relief. And I see nothing wrong with yesterday if that is the goal, and it could not be reached.

      • Bdolf

        August 1, 2014 at 12:05 pm

        I believe there is another problem. Utley and Rollins probably wouldn’t waive their 5and 10 no trades. The Giants badly needed a 2nd baseman. Did they not have decent prospects to offer?
        next season’s infield will be the same unless Utley and Rollins waive 5&10. Other than Cody, entire infield and catcher will be over 35 receiving big monies. What a mess RAJ has caused.

      • schmenkman

        August 1, 2014 at 12:28 pm

        “over 35 and receiving big monies” is actually not an issue for 2 of those 3, since they are still very good and more than earning their contracts.

  2. crow

    August 1, 2014 at 8:57 am

    Hamels’ name should not even have been mentioned. When I see what the Rays got back for moving Price I’m speechless with gratitude that Hamels is still with us.

    • Scotty Ingerton

      August 1, 2014 at 9:32 am

      Totally different scenarios though. Price is a free agent after 2015. Hamels is signed through 2019 (if you include the option year).

  3. Morris Buttermaker

    August 1, 2014 at 9:22 am

    There are 3 reasons that we should be happy Amaro did not trade Hamels.

    1. Philippe Aumont
    2. Tyson Gilles
    3. J.C. Ramierez

    • Dr. Dave

      August 1, 2014 at 12:32 pm

      I totally agree with Morris.

      As if things couldn’t get worse Lee gets hurt again last night.

      I have been complaining about Howard’s contract since the day it was announced. I didn’t realize how bad the rest of them were.

  4. Double Trouble Del

    August 1, 2014 at 10:46 am

    The most galling aspect of yesterday’s non-moves was RAJs deflecting blame to other GMs who were busy attending to business. It really is a rather sad indictment.

    • Ken Bland

      August 1, 2014 at 5:23 pm

      That’s more feed to the fire for the appearance of Ruben being arrogant. And on the surface, it is galling, although if we heard the details of who was offered for who, hell, there might even be some agreement with Amaro’s statement. But safe to say, it was pretty galling.

      The most galling? As it is, I’d agree, but perhaps down the road, in review of Amaro’s tenure, David Montgomery might offer a view on the bottom line of no execution that might be more galling. Monty’s actions portray a man who lives by the philosophy that if you say 3 intelligent things out of 10, you’re doing good. Not to say he’s stupid, but some of the things he says are

      I next to zero remember this, but it was I’m pretty sure 1979 when the Phils put 3 starters on the disabled list in one day. Maybe LC, Lerch and one other. Maybe Rufus. But it was 3, and pretty sure it was ’79. That year was an abomination, and that day was brought to memory by yesterday’s development between the industry wide embarrassment of criticism of Rube and Cliff going down. But, if I remember the ’79 day so barely, I’m sure 100 years from now I’ll forget what a bad day yesterday was.

  5. Lefty33

    August 1, 2014 at 11:24 am

    “For the sake of the franchise and for all Phillies fans, I hope David Montgomery agrees”

    Except that Montgomery is himself part of the problem. I mean the thing that you’re forgetting is that he was in print with Bob Cooney as far back as early June saying that he didn’t think/believe in a fire sale for the team and if you read between the lines he all but predicted that he wasn’t going to allow guys to get sold off for nothing just like what happened yesterday.

    This is of course already on top of the team rule that the Phillies don’t kick in money to make trades. I’m not saying that any of us should feel sorry for Rube but at the same time while yesterday was an indictment on Amaro’s bloated contracts it was also an indictment of how Monty is tying Amaro’s hands with what he is not allowed to do. Short of Hamels, any of the other guys who could have realistically been moved yesterday all would have required the Phillies to kick in cash to make a deal happen and if Monty won’t allow that. You can’t blame that on Amaro which is also why he no question will be back as GM next year. This is not a franchise run with a lot of accountability and with Amaro to a point only toeing the line with what Monty will allow, it would be disingenuous for Monty to fire Rube when Rube is only doing what he’s told.

    • Scotty Ingerton

      August 1, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      I’ve never heard about that team rule, didn’t they kick in a lot of money when they traded Thome to the White Sox? Over the past few days, Amaro has said publicly that money wouldn’t get in the way of a trade – the Phillies would subsidize a salary when it became an issue.

      “Amaro claimed he did not ask for “top prospects” in exchange for his older and expensive players. He insisted money was not an impediment to a trade.”


      What exactly makes you believe that ownership wouldn’t throw in money for a trade that Amaro wanted to make?

      • Lefty33

        August 1, 2014 at 1:55 pm

        You’re right about the Thome trade but I didn’t mention it only because there were larger issues in that with Howard’s agent requesting/demanding a trade plus dropping hints about a potential grievance being filed against the team for keeping Howard in AAA for no reason. Arguably the mishandling of the situation cost Wade his job and it’s why Gillick made the trade not long after he took over.

        But past that unique situation, Giles & Monty have never allowed money to be kicked out to make a trade happen the same way they have never paid a nickel of tax. Giles and Montgomery had both said that they hate the idea of paying tax or paying someone else to take your talent because it feels like (and I’m paraphrasing here) you’re arming the enemy. I suppose that anything is possible but for a team that has little in internal talent ready to take over if trades are made, are right up against a self imposed ceiling on payroll and have in essence never thrown in money in almost thirty four years of ownership I’ll believe when I see it that they’ll start now even if doing it for a few guys wouldn’t be the worst idea.

        As for that article, what’s Amaro going to say? I like to look at the larger picture of what the managing partner and the chairman of the board have done in thirty plus years of ownership versus what RAJ is spouting that to me comes off a bit hollow.

    • Scotty Ingerton

      August 1, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      The Phillies gave the White Sox $22 million along with Thome, so I’m assuming that ownership instituted this team rule after 2005.

      • Lefty33

        August 1, 2014 at 2:07 pm

        The unwritten “rule” has been in place since Giles bought the team.

        How Wade mishandled the Thome/Howard situation in ’04 & ’05 is what forced the team to make an exception and helped to cost Wade his job for trying to keep Howard in AAA for too long with nothing to prove and no clear path to the major league level.

        Howard got his cup of coffee in ’04 played well and was ready to go only to start ’05 back in AAA. If Thome never gets hurt in ’05 who knows how things would have turned out?


      • Hogey's Role

        August 1, 2014 at 2:42 pm

        Sorry I disagree here, amaro publicly stated several times they would kick in cash in any deal to move players for better prospects and there has never been a report otherwise….
        The blame here is solely on amaro, he handed out the bad contracts, now he can’t move the contracts… More than one gm or executive from other teams have come out and said the price for our players were way too high, which leads me to believe that’s probably true if there are multiple reports saying the same thing….

        It amazes me how much shit wade catches yet he drafted and assembled much of that 2008 team that we won with, yet he rarely gets credit…. Gillick came in made a few trades and pulled players off a scrap heap and finished the winner but wade laid all the groundwork….

        I don’t fault amaro for the lee,halladay,oswalt trades… Because at the time we needed them, and we were all in but some of the signings and other trades were just stupid…

        And while we are on the point of amaro, he spent 180 million dollars on this suck hole team… Many people in baseball always criticized Brian cashman and the Yankees or theo Epstein and the redsox because they just bought their teams, they paid for all their wins but money will help you win… It just shows me how well both of those men are at realizing and evaluating talent, and it might not be just them it may also be their group of people as well…
        But amaro spends 180 million for a team that will come close to 90+ losses and nobody is calling for his head, come on where are the critics now to come out and say wow I guess money won’t put a winner on the field, look how bad amaro f’d this team up….

        I’m sorry for the long rant but I hadn’t posted much of anything since the trade deadline came and passed and we sat on our thumbs, so this all came to a head…..

      • Lefty

        August 1, 2014 at 3:09 pm

        I was wondering where you were hiding Hogey. I understand why you feel like you do. But this mess will take a long time to clean up, no matter how fast they try. Just my opinion, gonna have to put our patience shoes on I’m afraid. That’s one reason I’m not unhappy today.

        BTW- Commenter 33 above you is not me.

      • Lefty33

        August 1, 2014 at 6:50 pm

        @ Hogey’s Role – It’s irrelevant what Amaro said. He’s not the one with the juice to eat money for that purpose. The team in the last 34 years aside of the Thome/Howard debacle has never eaten money and that’s fact which has included seven GM’s along with GIles himself. It’s not going to start now and if Amaro is canned, which he won’t be, the next guy would still be in the same pickle with not being able to eat money to move guys.

        Regarding Cashman and talent evaluation, the last time the Yankees won the WS in ’09 I wouldn’t call the way he went about business exactly rocket science. It was called outspend everyone to get the best FA talent on the market with Sabathia, Texeria and Burnett. It’s pretty easy to contend when you’re spending 210-220 million on payroll plus being able to add whatever at the deadline if need be. Sure he’s had to get more resourceful since King Goerge died but even last year they still had the highest payroll in the history of the franchise while missing the postseason.

        At this point the Phillies problem simply boils down to three problems mostly regarding Monty:

        1. Monty has starved them for years at draft time of late in terms of bonus money/scouting budget/money spent on talent evaluation & player development. Spending big in those areas is how teams like Pittsburgh & Tampa have become relevant.

        2. He won’t allow the tax threshold to be broken. That’s how the Yankees & Dodgers win.

        3. He won’t allow money to be eaten to move dead weight like Boston did two years ago or even this year.

        I’m not saying that Amaro didn’t hand out some crap contracts because he did but at some point he’s only allowed to do so much and larger issue(s) are philosophical with ownership’s calcified stance on certain things that will continue to hurt the franchise if they don’t allow some flexibility. Blind hatred of Amaro may be the trending thing but at the end of the day it’s simply not true because if he’s canned tomorrow whomever comes in behind him won’t be allowed to move guys just like he can’t and the roster will still be what it is for this year and next year.

        Like Lefty said, it’s a mess and only time and patience will help at this point because unless there is a major change from the top down as to how things are allowed to happen it’s going to be several years until the team is relevant again.

  6. Andrew from waldorf

    August 1, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    There is no justification for keeping any of these players.

    Holding out for the big deal is foolishness.

    You will be last place with or without any of your beloved players.

    Not dealing them for whatever came back is wrong.

    I wouldn’t give you 5 dollars for the roster.

    You are paying them 180 million.

    Keep paying and believing.

    Please Amoron hand them out to whomever will take them.

  7. Andrew from waldorf

    August 1, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Hamils cant go?

    Here anyone make players on this roster no longer be here?

    I am glad they are all coming back.

    Its like a bad dream but here they are.

    You value a last place roster?

    There are people here who will hold onto things?

    Drop them all and give me 180,000,000.00$

    You will have players that run to first and do not swing at 3-0 pitches unless they are hard hit.

  8. Phillies Fan from Germany

    August 1, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    The phillies will Need Players that can help them in and after the 2017 Season when Most of the bad contracts will Have expired. Burnett, Byrd and papelbon wont help them. so why Not Deal them and also eat Money (its a sunk cost). The Return does Not have to be the next Trout, just Players Who Might be contributors as of 2017. in baseball you have to stockpile Talent because the Development of Players is so hard to predict.

    That being Said, the final verdict is still out because of the possibility of August trades.

    • Oran Kelley

      August 1, 2014 at 5:32 pm

      Well, yes the Phillies wouldn’t do badly to trade some of their tradeables for a bunch of B-level prospects, but we don’t know if there we a bunch of b-level prospects on offer. And those prospects usually fail, as we see with the folks we got for Lee. That is they don’t make any contribution at all in 2017 or 2016 or 2015 or this year . . . so unless you get enough of them, you might just as well keeping the guys you got who are at least good enough to hold down a roster spot. This isn’t just a problem with scouting–the best scouting in the world is still wrong a great deal of the time. It’s just the fact that prospects don’t usually deliver much in the near term. If you look here: (http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/what-to-expect-from-baseball-americas-top-100-prospects/) you’ll see that by the time you are looking at the average team’s #3 prospect, you are looking at an average return of 5 WAR over the next 7 years. That just isn’t much better than what you’d expect from, say, Byrd over the remainder of his contract. So what was really on offer yesterday? Jon Lester AND Jonny Gomes went for Yoenis Cespedes . . . I’m not bowled over by that deal. And the A’s might not have been even willing to make that deal for Cole Hamels as it wouldn’t be a rental.

      Looking at the trades that went down yesterday, you really have to say that firesales are really drawing firesale prices these days . . . my bet is that the Phillies probably weren’t turning down very much in terms of 2017 contributions yesterday. Maybe in the case of Hamels, but not otherwise, I’d bet.

  9. Skylar0201

    August 1, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Montgomery isn’t going to fire Amaro–we aren’t *that* lucky!

    Ruben will never again have such an opportunity to rebuild this organization like he had up to yesterday.

    Forget the Aug waiver deadline because as another month goes by, more teams will come to see they aren’t the contenders they once were in July and would give up *even less* in return for our aging, overpaid stiffs.

    I am done with Amaro. IMO he should have been fired today for lack of confidence. He is too in love with our ’08 crew thinking we can still have a chance, and hasn’t learned a single thing about giving huge contracts; particularly vested ones.

    As ESPN bluntly put it yesterday: have fun in 2015–because you think the last few years have been bad–watch what the next 5-10 more bring now.

    • Double Trouble Del

      August 1, 2014 at 3:15 pm

      ESPN is all about drama. Will there be a draught? Absolutely, 5-10 years, I doubt it.

    • Oran Kelley

      August 1, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      But, on the other hand some of the undoubtedly good teams have serious weaknesses: the Tigers for instance . . . and the Tigers look an awful lot like the Phillies circa 2010: they’d better win now, so they might want a shortstop, or an OK leadoff man, or a decent-fielding outfield bat, or a left-handed reliver. Or the A’s might decide they really really need one more bat power hitter. There are now some very good teams out there with some glaring weaknesses.

  10. Rob 311

    August 1, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Do you guys think there are any hypothetical august trades like hamels for nothing but you have to take Howard as well or something along those lines? The problem isn’t prospects they just don’t have positions they can upgrade while paying 12+plus million to a bench player. If they can just shed salary it gives them a chance to at least sign league average players until they come up with a plan.

    • Oran Kelley

      August 1, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      What team do you think would be willing to essentially pay Cole Hamels $50 million a year to take up 2 roster spots?

      • Ken Bland

        August 1, 2014 at 5:44 pm

        Great question.

        Better answer…

        The Phillies!


  11. Ken Bland

    August 1, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Philly DNster David Murphy released a column this afternoon containing words based on Cliff Lee being shot, and 1 starting pitcher for next year that the Phils would lose 100 games next season. Mark it down, he emphasized.

    What a nut!

    Below is the entire list of reasons why this is horse hokey, and the Phils will NOT lose 100 games. Please read it thoroughly.

    The End

    tag:early April Fool’s material

    • Double Trouble Del

      August 1, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      Ken one more reason for them not to hold on to Hamels.

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