07/31/08 9:09 PM ET
Phillies unable to land lefty reliever
Former Philly southpaw Rhodes dealt to rival Marlins
By Ken Mandel / MLB.com
No player came to Philadelphia, as Thursday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline passed without an acquisition. Though the Phillies burned cell phone minutes, they didn't acquire the left-handed reliever they publicly desired."The only [lefty reliever] that moved was Rhodes," general manager Pat Gillick said. "There were four, five, six guys out there that were interesting, but he's the only one that moved. The asking price for us was pretty steep." The Phillies had been linked to nearly every southpaw reliever on the market, including Rhodes, who went 0-5 with a 5.32 ERA for Philadelphia in 2006. The Giants' Jack Taschner, the Reds' Jeremy Affeldt and the Royals' Ron Mahay had all been speculated to join the Phillies. Philadelphia would've liked an addition to help out a bullpen that entered Thursday with the second-lowest ERA (3.06) in the National League. "You're always concerned," Gillick said. "We haven't put as much pressure on the bullpen [Phillies' starters have logged the fifth-most innings in the NL] as other clubs. Brad Lidge, [J.C.] Romero, [Chad] Durbin, [Ryan] Madson have made a number of appearances, so you're a little concerned about fatigue. We can certainly use somebody." Earlier this month, a rumor with the Rockies surfaced that had Colorado dealing outfielder Matt Holliday and lefty reliever Brian Fuentes for outfielder Shane Victorino, lefty pitcher J.A. Happ, Double-A catcher Lou Marson and Double-A pitcher Carlos Carrasco. Victorino had been monitoring rumors since then, and was relieved when he still remained. "From watching SportsCenter, it was everywhere," Victorino said. "Your name gets thrown around. I'm glad to still be here. I think we have a great team." Despite Thursday's inactivity, the Phillies didn't miss out on deal-making. They acquired right-handed starter Joe Blanton from Oakland on June 17 for a trio of prospects, lefty Josh Outman, infielder Adrian Cardenas and outfielder Matthew Spencer. Deals can still be made, with the added element of a player having to first pass through waivers. The Phillies landed Jamie Moyer and Jeff Conine this way in 2006 and Cory Lidle in 2004. Gillick mentioned a three-way trade possibility that surfaced up in the final hour that would've netted them a back-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. Two of the three teams had signed off, but not the third. And yes, the Phillies were one of the teams interested in landing Ramirez, who completed a frenzy by eventually heading to Los Angeles. The Phillies would've had to send prospects to Pittsburgh to make a fit. It didn't happen. "We were talking, and we were involved," Gillick said. "We just couldn't get where they wanted to be, and we couldn't get where we wanted to be." With no lefty arriving, the Phillies are moving forward with a back-up plan of using J.A. Happ, though that appears to be a reluctant plan at best. Since his Tuesday recall, everyone in the organization sees Happ as a starter. "He's got a chance [to be a reliever]," Gillick said. "I think more that his role might be a starting pitcher. The role at the moment is sort of unfair to him. We're possibly going to take a look at making an adjustment. We're looking at an alternative." One alternative could be finding a lefty reliever and sending Happ to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. A more drastic move might also be to place Happ in the rotation, and move a starter to the bullpen. The popular candidate for that would be Brett Myers, though indications are that such a move is dangerous considering Myers' re-adjustment. For now, the bullpen is what it is. "If it's not broken, don't fix it," said Romero. "We have quality arms here that can get people out. We have to concentrate on the 25 guys we have here. We have to win this division with what we have, and we have everything we need." The Mets apparently agreed with Philadelphia, as they remained quiet on Thursday. The Marlins, despite huge buzz generated from their potential acquisition of Ramirez or Bengie Molina, only added Rhodes. "That tells me that we can fight it out with those other two teams," Manuel said. "If one of those three teams had made a big deal, it could definitely have made [that team] the strongest. All three of us are pretty even. I've said that all summer. We all have weaknesses and it's going to come down to the team that plays the best."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.