In a column posted earlier, Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly wrote about Phillies GM Ruben Amaro using his team’s ten-game homestand leading into the All-Star break as the defining factor in the team’s “buyer” or “seller” status. After tonight’s opener, a victory against the Braves, they stand at 42-45, 7.5 games behind the first place Braves.
“This homestand is very important,” general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said before Friday night’s game. “We’ve got to play well to stay in contention, clearly. I think we’ll know a lot more about this team after this homestand.”
Could the makeup of the team change if the Phillies don’t have a good homestand?
“It could,” Amaro admitted. “It could. I hope we’re adding to this club rather than subtracting. That’s the goal, but as I always say and I’ve been saying, the players will dictate it.
“These next 10 days are big.”
The team’s biggest trade chips are second baseman Chase Utley (a free agent after the season) and starter Cliff Lee. Both have limited no-trade clauses and would have to waive them before moving to certain teams. Catcher Carlos Ruiz, third baseman Michael Young, outfielder Delmon Young, and starter Roy Halladay will become free agents after the season, making at least the first three attractive to contending teams in search of a second-half upgrade.
The Phillies’ Minor League system has enjoyed big seasons from pitcher Jesse Biddle and third baseman Maikel Franco. Along with recent first round draft pick J.P. Crawford, their system is in better shape now than it was to start the season. Still, the Phillies could use some more young, projectable talent as it enters a transition phase, an issue easily resolved over the next three and a half weeks.
Per Eduardo Encino of the Baltimore Sun, the Cubs wanted middle infielder Jonathan Schoop and left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez from the Orioles for starter Matt Garza. Schoop rated as the organization’s #3 prospect and Rodriguez #5 according to Baseball America at the end of October last year.
Garza missed about nine starts to begin the 2013 season due to a strained right latissimus dorsi. Since making his season debut on May 21, however, he has pitched quite well, posting a 3.45 ERA over 57.1 innings. The Cubs, however, are 15.5 games out of first place and Garza is a free agent after the season, making it very likely that the right-hander is wearing a different uniform before the trade deadline on July 31. The Orioles, at 48-38, are only 4.5 games out of first place in the AL East and are otherwise in a good spot to make a run at one of the two Wild Card spots. Their starting rotation is in need of an upgrade as five of ten pitchers to have made at least five starts this season have posted a 5.00 ERA or worse.
Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco is putting up his best numbers since 2008. Through 18 starts, the right-hander has a 3.85 ERA and is averaging 3.6 strikeouts for every one walk, his highest rate since 2010. As the 30-year-old is a free agent after the season and the Marlins are headed nowhere, Nolasco was expected to be a hot commodity leading up to the July 31 trade deadline.
MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports that the Marlins have already received offers from both the Dodgers and the Giants.
At least two offers are on the table for Marlins right-hander Ricky Nolasco.
According to a league source familiar with the talks, the Dodgers are offering a pitching prospect and are also willing to assume the remaining nearly $5.7 million Nolasco will make this season.
The Giants are said to be the other club, offering two pitching prospects. But San Francisco is looking for Miami to assume at least a portion of what is left on the right-hander’s contract.
Though both teams are below .500, the 40-44 Dodgers are only 3.5 games out of first place in the NL West while the 39-45 Giants are 4.5 games out, so a mid-season addition such as Nolasco could be just what the doctor ordered.