Well, it's that time again. The middle of July, where the only thing more active than the mercury is the rumor mill. Every sports writer worth their salt links every Tom, Dick and Harry to just about every other team, in hopes of being the first to get the scoop on the summer's biggest trade.
Here in Philadelphia, we are used to that sort of thing. We've been treated to no fewer than one blockbuster deal per season since 2008. Since then, we've experienced trades for Brad Lidge, Joe Blanton, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt, so it is quite likely that Ruben Amaro and Company could drop the hammer on us, yet again, as the season steams on towards the trade deadline.
With about 10 or so days left for teams to make trades, there is more and more chatter about who the Phillies might be in on, be it a relief pitcher (Heath Bell, Mike Adams) or a bat (Carlos Beltran, Hunter Pence, Melky Cabrera). And since Amaro announced that he is essentially going to be in a bunker for the next week or so, all we can do is speculate until July 31st.
For most of us, this is old hat. We know the score and we are well equipped to deal with the speculation and rumors. But for those of you who are not used to this flurry of activity leading up to the deadline, there are a few things you need to know.
Believe Nothing: Seriously, everything is rumor until proven otherwise. Before Roy Oswalt was traded here last season, some folks were swearing that he had no interest in coming to Philadelphia. Prior to that, Kyle Drabek was considered to be “untouchable.” And so on, and so on. A lot of writers get “scoops” from “unnamed sources” and “people close to the clubs,” but that's just fancy talk for “wild speculation.”
Believe Everything: On the other hand, most every rumor is based on some semblance of facts. Maybe the facts are nebulous and sketchy at best, but they are usually general enough to somewhat believable. And unless said beat writer is throwing out a rumor of the “Kyle Kendrick for Albert Pujols” variety, go ahead and believe it as gospel. Or don't. Really no wrong answer.
Ruben Amaro is a Bad, Bad Man: This is the man who succeeded Pat Gillick, one of the greatest General Managers of the last couple decades, one year after he delivered a World Series trophy to Philadelphia. So to say that he had his work cut out for him was an understatement. Instead of playing it safe and betting the field, Rube has been aggressive and not afraid to increase the team's payroll. Since he's taken over, there's not been much room for the squeamish, because Amaro doesn't necessarily believe in conservative moves. Everything he does is huge, be it a three year contract for an aging left fielder, or monster deals for Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. He is as wily as a cat, as ferocious as a Kodiak bear, and once he dials in on a player, it's all but a foregone conclusion that he'll be wearing red pinstripes before too long.
It's Probably Just a Dream: No matter what happens, always be prepared to wake up at any moment, for the reality of the Ruben Amaro era is tenuous, at best. One day, Cole Hamels is the Ace, then BAM, it's Roy Hallday. And then Roy Oswalt. And then Cliff Lee. Whose next? Felix Hernandez? Tim Lincecum? Anything is possible, including this being a ruse designed to trick you into thinking that it is actually happening.
There is No Budget, Only Rube: One thing that has been beaten into our brains is that the Phillies are out of money and that Danys Baez has been passing around a hat during the game to coax a few more bucks from the fans. However, if there is one thing that we've learned, it's that the Phillies aren't exactly transparent as far as their finances are concerned. No money? No problem.
Enjoy the Ride: It's been an incredible few years to be a Phillies fan, thanks to all the winning and Aces and such, but for a few weeks in July, the volume gets turned way up in light of the fact that some new faces could be joining the club for the second half of the season. It's a whodunnit of sorts, as the fans and the writers play an elaborate guessing game as to who will be the next to be brought into the fold.
As the deadline nears, things are only going to get more heated as the Phillies deal to improve their already stellar team. So hang on to your hats, everyone, and remember what you read here today. Do that, and come August first, you'll be right as rain.