In one drawer of his desk, Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is working on a yellow legal pad with offers for some of his key players. In another drawer is a yellow legal pad with a list of excuses if he does not accept any of those offers by today’s 4 p.m. MLB trade deadline.
A minor deal involving someone like A.J. Burnett or Marlon Byrd simply will not do, because the Phillies’ farm system needs the kind of infusion of talent that only players like Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels can deliver. I’m talking about deals like 4-for-1 for Hamels and 3-for-1 for Lee, with as many as five of the seven prospects being top-of-the-line guys.
With the clock ticking down, there’s a lot of scribbling left to do, but I’m guessing Amaro is working on harder on his excuse list. In the past few days, we’ve already heard what those excuses could be. Amaro already went on one sports talk morning show and said that he has contracts that are tough to match up, which is one way of saying he fouled up in giving out big contracts. He also said that there was no pressure to make a deal because something could get done after the trade deadline or in the offseason.
The deadline, though, offers the Phillies a chance to get real value from a club that feels adding a Hamels or a Lee puts them over the top in this year’s playoff race, and that kind of incentive won’t exist in a waiver deal where any club can put in a claim.
Amaro needs to get something big done or pull out that list of excuses he’s been working on all week.