When Thinking Trades, Use Reason and Logic

It's easy for fans to sit back and conjure up deals that would make the Phillies guaranteed favorites to role right through the regular season, playoffs and of course, the World Series. All we have to do is get Randy Johnson, Carl Crawford, Nomar Garciaparra and maybe one or two others, right? While it's all a lot of fun, dealing isn't that easy and only leads to disappointment if you wait for those moves to happen.

Suffice it to say, that Ed Wade has to do something. The line that he started uttering last season that this team is good enough to win is getting very old. Either the team is good enough to win, but somebody - Larry Bowa, Greg Gross, Joe Kerrigan...somebody - is holding them back. Or, they're not good enough to win.

Before you remind me that the Phillies are in first place, consider that they're there more as a result of other teams being as inconsistent as they are rather than the Phillies having a great season. After all, they're lucky they're in the NL East.

To use his own words against him, if the Phillies are good enough to win, then something else is wrong. Fire Greg Gross? Fire Joe Kerrigan? Fire Larry Bowa? All are possibilities. It seems this season that pitching coaches and hitting coaches are going faster than managers are at this point. The Phillies could be next.

The other option is trading to make the team better. Are we going to get Randy Johnson? Probably not. Are we going to get Nomar Garciaparra? No. Will we get Kris Benson? If we're lucky, we'll get someone of his caliber.

The first obstacle to any of these deals is Ed Wade. The man has made some nice moves over the past couple winters to make this a strong club. My calendar says it's July, meaning it's not winter. Ed Wade isn't known for making big trades during the season. The biggest in-season deals he's made in the last few years were when he was sending top talent elsewhere. Ask the Diamondbacks, who got Curt Schilling from us. As St.Louis, who are reaping the benefits of the Scott Rolen trade. Did Wade go out and get Brian Giles? No, he didn't. We did come close though. We got Giles' Pittsburgh teammate Mike Williams last summer. For whatever reason, Wade does not rock the boat in the middle of the season.

Now, you have the issue of money. The Phillies are already over budget thanks to Kevin Millwood accepting arbitration. They insist that they can be "flexible" with their payroll, but that's a difficult word to know the exact meaning of. For instance, my budget allows me to be flexible, too. Buying a brand new Mercedes is not anywhere in the definition of flexible for me. Maybe, it is for the Phillies. One theory that has been spread is that the Phillies are looking to move Millwood to free up some space in the financial area of the equation. That makes sense, since Wade is in the habit of moving big name players in July (see above paragraph).

Now, you have to get around no-trade clauses. Randy Johnson and Steve Finley, just to mention two of the players involved in Phillies trade rumors, have them. Finley is likely only to waive his to go to San Diego, where he still owns a home and is comfortable with a team he formerly played for. He definitely wants to at least stay close to San Diego and Philadelphia doesn't fit in the "close" category any more than that new Mercedes fits in my "flexible" category. Johnson seems willing to move to the east, but he's thinking New York, as in Yankees. Some reports have been floated that Johnson, who had a rocky relationship with Curt Schilling, would love to go to the Yankees and negate Schilling's move to the Red Sox. Other reports have the Red Sox interested in bringing Johnson there. So far, both Johnson and the D'backs say nothing is going to happen.

Message boards are filled with deals like Millwood and Jimmy Rollins to Boston for Derek Lowe and Nomar Garciaparra. Please stop. You can argue the change of scenery issue for Millwood and Lowe, who have both struggled. That deal straight up, maybe. Let's say the Phillies would do this deal and Garciaparra becomes a free agent at the end of the season. Who plays shortstop in Philadelphia next season? I know, Ryan Howard, right? Deals have to be thought out. You might give up a little something extra to get a guy that puts you over the top, but you're not going to mortgage everything.

That brings us to the next reason why the Phillies aren't likely to make a major trade. Ed Wade - for good or bad - hates to give up prospects in deals. Others in the front office had to use every convincing argument they could think of to get Wade to pull the trigger on the Billy Wagner deal because he didn't want to include Taylor Buchholz. Wade simply does not have a comfort level with dealing young players. He generally deals major leaguer for major leaguer, although there are some minor exceptions to that rule.

When you're playing GM, use logic and reason. When your heart says Randy Johnson, think Kris Benson.

Actually, Benson has been pitching pretty well of late and might not be a bad addition to the rotation. Benson might find his way through all of the obstacles in the way of the Phillies making a deal, but there are other teams interested in Benson. That will drive up his price in terms of what the Pirates will want in exchange. It also means that Wade will have to out manuever the likes of Jim Duquette (Mets), Brian Cashman (Yankees) and possibly Theo Epstein (Red Sox) to make a deal with Pittsburgh.

That brings up the final point. Stick with me on this one. If Ed Wade says this team is good enough to win and decides not to make a key trade deadline move. And, if he doesn't put any blame at the door of Bowa, Gross or Kerrigan. And, if the Phillies ultimately don't win, whose fault is it? To paraphrase SNL's Church Lady... "Could it be, Eddie?" At that poing, the Phillies brass has to consider if Ed Wade himself is the one who has to be moved.

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