We've arrived at one of those natural waypoints in the season. The Phillies are coming off a seven-game road trip that featured a sweep of the (at the time) first-place Braves, followed by two straight wins over the contending Cardinals, and then ended with back-to-back losses in which offense was sparse. They are six games under .500, five games out of first place, and 39 days from the trade deadline.
Gentlemen, start your takes!
Sam Donnellon says the Phillies should go for it.
Marc Narducci says they shouldn't not go for it.
Me? I'm waiting until I land in Philadelphia to finalize my current thinking. For now, marinate in the following. The Inquirer recently completed a four-part series that was heavy on remarks from Phillies president David Montgomery (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4).
Here is everything he said:
On why he has confidence in the current baseball personnel staff moving forward, including general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.: "I just believe that group of people gave us the successful period we had. They had different roles in it. I know people focus on Ruben's role having changed vis-a-vis 2009 vs. 2008. But I talked to Pat Gillick about our club this morning. Pat Gillick sat in that entire draft. It's not like we're not benefiting from the thinking of the same people we had before. That's why you have to look at the whole body of work. Have we been served well? My answer to that is yes."
On whether the team is moving into a rebuilding phase: "We don't view our operating philosophy as changing a whole lot, because the goal of getting good and staying good remains. What is the acceptance level in a bigger market? We just want our fans to believe we are trying to do the best for both today and tomorrow. We're constantly focusing on what our 2016 ball club will look like," Montgomery said. "And that doesn't have some of the names that are out there now. Now, when you're planning and thinking about 2016, does that mean you're thinking about rebuilding in 2014? Well, if you don't move people, [a fan's] view would be, 'No, they're not rebuilding. They're being stubborn.' Do we know where the road is going to lead? Absolutely not. . . . The goal, it never changes. The goal is to pay attention to both today and tomorrow, and to do what's right in both cases. The only way you do that is to be prepared."
On whether he is loyal to a fault: "I don't find loyalty to be a bad trait. If loyalty to a fault means you don't want to make a change, why would I have ever asked Ed Wade to step down? My resumé speaks for myself. Ed and I were probably as close as a club president and general manager can be, as far as lockstep in thinking. Yet a time came when a change was made, and I had to make it. . . . I don't think it's blind loyalty."
On his role in baseball operations: "I just try to pay attention. I think we have pretty good people doing these jobs. We saw, over a long period, pretty good success with this group of people. Obviously, Ruben is part of that group."
On the trades for Hunter Pence and Roy Oswalt: "There is no question in 2010 and 2011 that we tried hard to win another World Series. We went for pieces, and we gave up pieces for pieces. I don't think you'll see us do that right now. We're not that confident that we're that close; that we're missing one piece to do that. It would be silly to do so."
On whether the Phillies will assume money in a trade: "We would much rather take the financial risk than the talent risk. That's where we find ourselves today. But we're not unique in that, either. Everybody is trying to lock up their young talent and hold on to it."
On whether he is worried about moves' impact on attendance: "Does it cause you to say, 'We just don't want to play all young kids and get rid of everybody for fear we win 60 games'? Yeah, that's a factor."
On the current depth in the organization: "We knew when we had a nucleus of players - as talented as they all were, but sadly all happened to be within 18 months of the same age - that there would come a period of turnover. If you have enough talent in the minors to immediately put toward a new nucleus, perhaps you could do that turnover quickly. But we don't have that depth right now. We're trying hard to get where we have some nice pieces. We really like Crawford. But an awful lot can happen. The beauty of having numbers - and this is why we still have hope for our young bullpen arms - the chance of getting two or three to actually succeed up here are a lot better."
On the Hunter Pence deal: "Ruben alone didn't decide we were going to send four people to Houston for Hunter Pence," Montgomery said. "We all looked at it. We said, 'What do we need? We're short in one area. We're winning the most games we've ever won, but we didn't have comfort in right field or with a righthanded bat.' So we did it. Once you've done it, looking back, were we pushing the envelope? Yeah. Did we decide to push the envelope? Yeah. We did. Pat Gillick said, 'How silly was I to trade Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez for Freddy Garcia?' That happens in this game."
On whether the Phillies would trade Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins: "Is that something we are prepared to do? If that's the best thing for us, of course. Of course. The way he plays the game and everything, I'd love for him to to be wearing that uniform 20 years from now in some capacity. Jimmy will be in music, or who knows what? But Chase is a baseball guy. I'd want Chase thinking along with us how to improve this place for the next 10 years. He brings a lot to the table. We're not so stubborn and blocked in our thinking that we won't do X. Was it exciting to have Jimmy get all those hits for this franchise? Was it exciting when you have players like Schmidt and Rollins, who played their whole careers in one place? I think it's exciting, and I think it's exciting for fans. But it doesn't happen much anymore."
On rebuilding: "We don't like being in last place in the National League East. We don't think that's where we belong. We don't think that's what our fans expect of us. In some places, they do that intentionally in order to speed the process. But, at the same time, there has to be the types of deals [beneficial to us]. I mean, I listen to the expectations of people of what we can get for our veterans. For another year or two of a solid veteran player, somebody is going to give us what? And take the salary to what extent? So realism, for us, creeps into the picture."