ON A TRAIN — It's rare for Ruben Amaro Jr. to acknowledge a rumor, no matter how baseless it is. The recent reports of the Phillies general manager calling other teams for an idea how much Cole Hamels et al. are worth were not baseless.
They were true; invariably, an executive from a team Amaro phoned leaked details to a national writer and a story is born.
Amaro, in turn, went on the offensive Monday by seeking forums in local media to spread his message: We're not waving the white flag. And he's probably not lying. Just because the Phillies called other teams hardly means a trade is imminent.
I don't believe Amaro has decided to sell yet. He is, of course, considering it — no matter what he says.
"A lot of these rumors are products of the timing and way we're playing," Amaro said. "This is what happens in July. You have a team that's not playing very well, and we have very good players. We are going to get these types of rumors out there. I just want to make sure people understand where we stand."
Where they stand is on the brink. No decision to sell must be made today, tomorrow, or next week. Part of the decision to sell will be dependent on what the Phillies can receive for said trade chips. Thus, the phone calls were made.
Part of the problem is this: The national reports were hardly wrong. But the fan reaction was.
Trades develop over weeks, sometimes months. Usually, the first step is to ask around to see what Player X could possibly net. Then the front office assesses and determines the next course of action.
"Shopping" and "trading" are two totally different steps.
Amaro and the rest of the organization — from Charlie Manuel to his players — speak with optimism. They believe a postseason berth is attainable, partially because there are now two Wild Cards, but mostly because Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay will return sometime in July.
So the GM wants the focus to be his team, right now, on the field. It's hard not to blame others for shifting their attention elsewhere.
There are plenty of factors, most of them undetermined, that will go into Hamels' value on the trade market.
Bob Ford delves into the many layers of the Hamels situation and sees the lefthander ultimately leaving.
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