For change, Phillies stand pat at deadline
Michael Young was taking grounders at third base when the non-waiver trade deadline passed, unsure if he was staying or going and unaware he was going to start at first base three hours later.
Rumored to be going to Boston, Texas or the New York Yankees, Young is still with the Philadelphia Phillies. So is Carlos Ruiz, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon and everyone else mentioned in all the trade speculation.
For the first time in his tenure as general manager, Ruben Amaro Jr. didn't make a splash in July. In fact, he made no deals Wednesday.
''We talked about a couple things, but the bottom line was we didn't find anything satisfactory that we thought was going to improve us,'' Amaro said.
The Phillies entered their game against San Francisco at 50-56. They were 11 1/2 games behind NL East-leading Atlanta and eight back of Cincinnati for a wild-card spot.
Young, a six-time All-Star infielder with Texas, was hitting .279 with eight homers and 34 RBIs in his first season with Philadelphia. Young will be a free agent after the season, and would be an attractive addition for a contending team.
But the veteran has a no-trade clause, though he was likely willing to waive it for the right team. It didn't get to that point, however.
''No-trade clauses are part of the process and things you have to deal with,'' Amaro said. ''At times, it can be debilitating. But the reason why we didn't make a trade in this situation wasn't about that. It was that we didn't feel we were getting any talent to upgrade our club.''
Young will play more at first base now that prospect Cody Asche has been called up. Asche was set to make his first start in the majors against the Giants. The Phillies may even take a look at Asche in right field.
''He's athletic enough to play outfield, but he's a third baseman today,'' Amaro said.
Ruiz, an All-Star catcher last year, is also in the final year of his contract and teams were interested in him. Utley, the five-time All-Star, was considered trade bait because he also will be a free agent after the year, but the Phillies want to re-sign him.
''We'd like to keep the man in our pinstripes,'' Amaro said.
Papelbon, an All-Star closer last year, is difficult to move because he's only in the second year of a $50 million, four-year contract that includes a vesting option for 2016.
Lee, an All-Star lefty, would've brought back the biggest return, but the Phillies already traded him once and have little to show for it.
''Is the trade deadline over? It feels good,'' manager Charlie Manuel said.
The Phillies had climbed back into contention by the All-Star break. But an eight-game losing streak on the road dropped them further behind. Manuel said after Tuesday night's win that the deadline had been a distraction.
Under Manuel, the Phillies have been outstanding after the non-waiver deadline passed. They're 283-162 in Manuel's eight years from July 31 until the end of the regular season. A 35-27 record during their 2009 NL pennant-winning season was their worst mark in that span.
Amaro took over as GM when Pat Gillick retired after the Phillies won the World Series in 2008. Amaro made major deadline deals each year, acquiring Lee in 2009, Roy Oswalt in 2010 and Hunter Pence in 2011. He traded Pence, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton in 2012.
''Sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make,'' Amaro said, adding he could still make one in August.
Players now have to clear waivers before they can be traded.
The Phillies were 13 games out of a wild-card spot last July 31. But they started winning after Amaro's moves and climbed within three games of St. Louis for the second-wild card berth on Sept. 13 only to fall short.
Can they still get back in the race this year?
''We have 56 games left and we're going to play as hard as we can and try to do the best we can,'' Manuel said. ''If you play the game the right way, you never know how good you can do. Every team somewhere along the line has had a (winning) streak. We haven't. Maybe we got one coming to us.''
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