The trade deadline passed without so much as a peep from the Phillies, despite some rumors that never materialized into anything of substance. That came as a bit of a shock, because it seemed like Ruben Amaro would have had a fairly easy time moving pieces like Michael Young. Such was not the case, and the roster on the first of August was the same as it was on the final day of July.
We talked about this yesterday, but it seemed like demand, and not a lack of motivation, was the cause for Amaro standing pat. After all, it takes two to tango, and if other teams don't appear to be interested in your wares, then you're out of luck.
That was, up until Thursday morning, when Jon Heyman of CBS Sports wrote that Amaro could have had a deal in place with the New York Yankees for both Young and catcher Carlos Ruiz. While the talks regarding Ruiz apparently never went anywhere, Heyman reports that the Yankees were willing to send a prospect and cash to Philly in exchange for Young. Amaro would later attempt to dispel Heyman's report, so your guess is as good as mine as to whether or not this happened. Needless to say, it bears some examination.
It seems like that would have been a no-brainer for Amaro, who had very little options due to Young's no-trade clause. If the Yankees, who were in need of a third baseman, wanted to offer up a warm body, why not take it? The first impulse here is to curse Amaro for failing to make such an obvious trade, but when you consider the facts (at least, as reported by Heyman), it paints a clearer picture about Amaro's motivations.
To start, the prospect believed to be coming to Philly was Tommy Kahnle, a 23-year-old relief pitcher who is currently at Double-A. In 44 innings in 2013, Kahnle has a 2.42 ERA with 10.5 K/9. That seems pretty good, until you notice his 6.0 BB/9. He's never had a problem striking guys out, but control issues (4.9 BB/9 over his minor league career) have plagued him since the jump. And if you know anything about the Phillies minor league system, you don't need to look far before finding a bunch of pitchers with that same exact skill set. Does that mean that Kahnle can't be valuable? Of course not, but it's not as if he turned down a player who could provide a ton of value in the foreseeable future.
Secondly, the window to trade a player is far from over, as teams can still make trades once a player passes through waivers, meaning that it is entirely possible that the Phillies move Young sometime over the next 30 days.
As for why Amaro wouldn't listen in on offers for Ruiz, that one makes a bit less sense. Chooch is having a ghastly season, and like Young, they'd be lucky to get a player in return. However, given that the catching situation in 2014 is an unclear one, perhaps Amaro would prefer to hang onto Ruiz, re-sign him, and have him behind the dish in 2014. Even if he never hits like he did in 2012 again, he'll still provide plenty of value on defense and his ability to handle a pitching staff.
Whether or not you think the Phillies should have made those trades at the deadline, Ruben Amaro's legacy is not going to be built on his decision to not trade a pair of veterans at the 2013 deadline, and the history of the Phillies is not going to be re-written because Carlos Ruiz and Michael Young didn't spend the rest of the season with the New York Yankees.