Two years ago, former Phillies general manager Pat Gillick was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Long before that, Gillick earned the nickname "Stand Pat" for being unwilling to make a major trade; he would lose that monicker before long.
His successor in Philadelphia, Ruben Amaro Jr., never came close to earning a similar title.
In his first three trade deadlines, Amaro made what were arguably the biggest moves in baseball, trading for Cliff Lee in 2009, for Roy Oswalt in 2010 and for Hunter Pence in 2011. Even last year he didn't let the July 31 deadline pass quietly, shipping All-Star outfielders Shane Victorino and Pence out of town.
For the first time in his regime, Amaro stood pat as the deadline came and passed on Wednesday afternoon. Despite a flurry of rumors, no Philies changed uniforms.
What grade does Ruben Amaro Jr. deserve as general manager?
Amaro spoke about the inability to strike a deal - and the state of the organiztion - for over 20 minutes shortly after the deadline passed. Here are some highlights.
Q: Were you close to any trade?
Amaro: Yeah. We talked about a couple of things late. I guess the bottom line was we didn't find anything that was satisfactory. Nothing we thought was going to improve us. So we decided not to do anything.
Q: Are there still things (trades) you can do in August?
Amaro: Yeah. It's not like the trade deadline means no more trades. We will continue to try to improve the club somehow. That can happen after the deadline. We have to get trade waivers on the player or have someone claim the player. Our job is to continually try to do that. Obviously it makes it a little more difficult beyond July 31.
Q: Do the no-trade clauses limit what you can do?
Amaro: Limited no-trades, full no-trades, those are things that are part of the process you have to deal with. It's part of doing business. At times it can be a little debilitating. The reason why we didn't make a trade in this situation wasn't necessarily about that. It was more about not feeling like we were going to get any talent back that was going to upgrade our club. In my mind, sometimes the best trades are the ones you don't make. That doesn't mean we're not going to stop trying to do it. That's our job.
Q: Were you looking to upgrade for now or 2014 and the future?
Amaro: Both. I would have liked to upgrade our current club. I am also looking toward the future. We have obviously gone through a tough stretch. It will be a long haul for us to get back in this race. Crazier things have happened. We maybe be looking more for tomorrow. I have to be realistic. We could be looking more toward 2014 than 2013 at this point. But that can change with a winning streak. That can change with us playing better.
Q: Do you eventually need to move a big contract to improve the team?
Amaro: I don't think so. I think we can add to them. We need their production; it's the reason why they are big-salaried players. We need their production. When they are paid big money, you'd like them to produce. Whether they can do that at the same level as we anticipated, that remains to be seen. We were decimated by some injury issues again. That can't be an excuse. But that's reality for us. It puts a little damper on things.
Q: You guys entered this season with a lot of ifs. Seems with roster still intact, you will have a lot of ifs going into 2014 too, right?
Amaro: My job is to put ourselves in a position to have a lot less holes. We have a lot of time to do that. If we start looking toward 2014, some of the things this season may allow us to do is to take a look at Cody Asche and see if he can be a viable option for us at third base. We get a chance to see Darin Ruf play. There is some benefit to seeing and trying to move forward with these young guys. We get an opportunity to see how they handle being in the big leagues and whether or not they can have a positive impact on our club. It's not the ideal situation, but I think it's a good situation for them to be here in the big leagues.
Q: Is it a missed opportunity if don’t make any trades in August?
Amaro: No. I don’t see it as a missed opportunity. How many actual trades were made (so far) for people to really improve their club? It is difficult to make a trade. Teams covet, very, very strong, their players, particularly their young players because they know how volatile the free agent market is; they know how expensive it can be. And so we’re one of those clubs. It was one of the reasons why, when we were trying to look as some different things with our OF and our bullpen, even up until the end of the trade deadline here, the fact of the matter is when you’re asking about some of your finest players in your system, I didn’t feel like it was the right time to move any of those players because we need to keep them for Philadelphia at some point.
Q: People say Michael Yong isn’t going ot be back. So why not deal him?
Amaro: That’s not necessarily true. A lot of it depends what his expectations are as a player and his playing time, and how he might fit into our club. This could very well be his last year with us, but I can’t close any doors on the guy. I’ not in the process of seeking an extension with him, but we have to, when it comes ot the free agent market, we can’t take anyone off the list we think may be able to help us, particularly as a National League team, and we have the opportunity to move some guys around the versatility that Mike has.
Q: Safe to say the guys offered for him, you didn’t see them helping you in the future?
Amaro: That’s exactly right.
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