This morning reports surfaced that the Phillies were planning on being buys, not sellers, at the upcoming July 31st trade deadline. At 44-45 and 7.5 games out of the NL East lead, the Phillies are still in the thick of the race. No team has really run away with the National League and, under Charlie Manuel, the Phillies have been a very successful second half team.
But, in the same breath, they are still 7.5 games back and not at .500 yet. Things can still go wrong before July 31st and change their minds from buyers to sellers.
If the Phillies become sellers, one name that will be at the top of their asset list is Jonathan Papelbon. The 32 year old closer had garnered interest from a number of teams, including Detroit, if the Phillies make him available.
Speaking of availability, Papelbon was not available for last night's 4-2 victory over the Nationals. Manager Charlie Manuel was on MLB Network Radio and said, "When he works a lot, he gets some minor soreness in his hip, it's nothing real serious, and he can bounce right back."
Now, on the surface, the comment is harmless. But for a team that could be looking to trade this player in the coming weeks, this is not what you want to be broadcasting to the public.
Papelbon blew four out of five save opportunities at the end of June and struggled Monday night trying to close out the game against the Nationals. His recent play over the last month and a half has been concerning enough - the last thing they need is to raise more concerns around his health.
In 23 save opportunities this year, Papelbon has converted 19 saves with a 2.28 ERA (eight runs - six earned - in 23.2 innings) and a 1.06 WHIP (20 hits and five walks).
If the Phillies keep playing good baseball, this comment won't be a big deal at all. If they start to free-fall and start shopping Papelbon, this comment certainly won't help the Phillies "sell" Papelbon to other teams. Those around the team should choose their words wisely around this time of year.
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