Featured card: 1998 Fleer Vintage ’63 #46, Curt Schilling
There’s still four more days before we hit the trade deadline. I’m not actually expecting Ruben Amaro, Jr. to do anything this time around, nor do I think he necessarily needs to do anything. The fact is that the Phillies currently have the best record in baseball, and while the offense has certainly been iffy at time this year, it has been more than enough to get the job done. At least if Amaro does make a trade, he won’t be addressing a serious flaw that potentially stops the team from making the playoffs (which, truth be told, are nothing more than a crapshoot determined far more by luck and streaky play than by which team is actually the better one). Thus, he will be doing it from a position of strength — unlike when Ed Wade dealt Curt Schilling to the Diamondbacks 11 years ago, yesterday.
To be fair to Wade, Schilling made his job harder. Schilling made it clear that he wanted out (but, unlike Scott Rolen two years later, he also made sure the fans knew his beef was solely with management), and Wade was forced to get the best deal he possibly could given that everyone knew Schilling wanted out. That’s the type of atmosphere that drives down the price of any player, including Future Hall of Famers. Luckily, it wasn’t the worst Phillies trade of all-time — hell, the Chicago Cubs by themselves have three trades where they fleeced the Phillies by far more — but it was still a demoralizing move, and you can’t help but wonder if the Phillies just might have made the playoffs in one of the years leading up to 2007 if they had found a way to placate Schilling and keep him on the club. Furthermore, you do have to wonder why Wade was treating this as such an urgent matter — Schilling was under contract through 2001, and given how close the Phillies came that year to making the playoffs, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Schilling’s presence might have made a difference.
While Amaro hasn’t made any bad trades yet, there’s the distinct possibility that one will finally come back to haunt the organization. Teams in the Phillies position still make bad trades to address weaknesses and faults, both perceived and real. A glaring hole might lead to trading a real prospect for a rental player. Understandably, there’s a win-now mentality in Philly, and while I have some respect for that position, the fact is that since playoff expansion in 1994, the team with the best regular season record has won the World Series less than 20% of the time. The important thing is just getting there. Given their starting rotation (and assuming they do in fact make the playoffs), the Phillies stand a slightly better chance of winning it all than the other teams. Trying to increase those odds by just a few percentage points isn’t necessarily worth crippling the franchise’s ability to compete long-term.
Having said all that, don’t be too surprised if I glowingly endorse any deal that Amaro does make. After all, logic often goes out the window in the fiery moment that emotion overcomes reason.
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