ST. LOUIS - Avoiding the trade talk, Charlie Manuel said, is impossible this time of year. The manager has more meetings - with front-office personnel, his coaches, everyone - on these days more than any other.
But . . .
"Until the guy shows up," Manuel said, "that's when I know we have him."
The Phillies have made it clear they are searching for help in a trade. The primary name that has emerged is Houston righthander Roy Oswalt. And to acquire Oswalt, the Phillies are shopping Jayson Werth, who could net prospects from a contending team. Those prospects could be kept, or flipped with some others to acquire Oswalt, who is 6-11 for a last-place team but has a 3.12 ERA this season, and a career ERA of 3.22.
The Phillies would like to have Oswalt or any other starter by this weekend to fill two holes in the current rotation.
But any potential deal can be derailed for various reasons.
Oswalt told reporters in Chicago, where the Astros were playing the Cubs, that he had not yet been asked to waive his no-trade clause in a deal to the Phillies.
"Until they come up to me, there's really nothing I can do," Oswalt said. "I don't want to go up to them and ask them every time something comes across the ticker. So until they come to me, I'll just wait and see."
Oswalt has said he will approve a trade to a contending team. He has made the postseason only twice in a 10-year career spent entirely with the Astros. If presented with the trade, Oswalt would have to decide whether the Phillies have enough to make a playoff run this season.
Manuel said despite his team's offensive struggles, he believes adding another pitcher could be a spark.
"I think the right pitcher could definitely make a difference," Manuel said.
Phillies closer Brad Lidge played with Oswalt for six seasons in Houston. He said he hasn't talked to Oswalt recently but thought he would approve a trade to Philadelphia.
"I've known him for a long time and I saw it day in and day out," Lidge said. "He's a horse out there."
When asked about accepting a trade to the Phillies, Oswalt was noncommittal.
"It would have to work for both of us," Oswalt said. "If it doesn't work for both of us, no. But if it does, maybe."
Ostensibly, he is referring to the prospect of the Phillies guaranteeing his $16 million club option for 2012.
ESPN.com reported that Oswalt would seek that assurance from any other team. The Phillies reportedly have no interest in picking up that option on the 32-year-old.
The Phillies are interested in a pitcher that could help them this season but also beyond 2010. Oswalt is due $16 million in 2011.
If the Phillies turn their attention to other pitchers on the market, they most likely will not pursue Oakland's Ben Sheets. A baseball source said the Phillies, who had two different scouts watch Sheets this month, did not come away impressed. Sheets is 4-9 with a 4.53 ERA for the A's this season. He is due about $6 million in salary and bonuses over the remainder of the season.
But to acquire Oswalt or even Arizona's Dan Haren, who could be pricier, the Phillies would probably have to trade Werth in a corresponding move. Werth is due about $3.5 million for the remainder of 2010 and it appears the Phillies have already given up hope of resigning the free-agent-to-be.
Werth said he hasn't paid attention to the rumors.
"It is what it is," he said.
The Phillies' aggressive shopping of Werth signals the team believes top prospect Domonic Brown is ready to play in the majors.
Interestingly, Brown (usually a rightfielder) has played left the last two games for Lehigh Valley, the first time he's played there all season. That could be the last step in prepping Brown to spell Raul Ibanez in left at times, too.