Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is in the same difficult situation as many of his counterparts in baseball, not knowing whether to buy or to sell by the July 31 trade deadline.
The Phillies entered the weekend 6 1/2 games out of first place in the National League East and 5 1/2 games out of a wild-card spot with 98 games remaining.
Amaro was encouraged by the three-game sweep over San Diego, but he understands it will take more to convince him that the Phillies are contending than defeating a Padres team that entered the weekend with the third-worst record in baseball.
Buy or sell?
"We think about it every day," Amaro said while talking to reporters before Friday's game with the Chicago Cubs at Citizens Bank Park.
Amaro understands that his job status has become a constant subject among Phillies fans but he remains supremely confident that he is the person to lead the Phillies.
"That's a question I get asked pretty much every day," he said about whether he will get fired. "I don't have any issues with my own job status. I believe in what we do and what I do, and that's not my decision."
Without knowing which direction the Phillies are headed, the team's scouts are looking at things from both sides, if the Phillies are buying or selling.
"We're making sure we know which players we like the most in certain organizations and preparing for that," Amaro said. "At the same time we're continuing to assess what our needs are. If we have to go through the transition, we're preparing and evaluating what our needs are."
When asked if teams like the players the Phillies have on their roster, Amaro didn't hesitate.
"Ah yes, wouldn't you? he asked. "We have some pretty good players."
Two of those players, second basemen Chase Utley and shortstop Jimmy Rollins, have 10-and-5 rights and can't be traded without their permission. Anyone with 10 years of service time, of which at least the last five were spent with the same team, earns the right to veto any trade.
Amaro is frequently asked about whether he would deal his double play combination, but says it is hard to speculate about it, because of their 10-and-5 rights.
"If someone comes and says we would like to have Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley or whatever player out there, I have to do my job and listen, explore," Amaro said. "But the reality of it is it could all be a waste of time because they might not want to go anywhere, and at that time we might not want them to go anywhere, either."
So Amaro is keeping an open mind on everybody.
I can't say there are any untouchables," he said. "Some guys are less touchable than others, so to speak."
What has made things more difficult for Amaro is that despite his team's 28-36 record entering the weekend, nobody is running away with the National League East. Washington was leading the division, but the Nationals' 35-30 record and .538 winning percentage was the lowest among any division leader in baseball. So for now, Amaro needs a bigger sample size before deciding a course of action.
"These next several weeks are important to us because we will find out a lot more about where we stand," he said.
He says there is no exact date when he will decide which way to go, and added that he wouldn't be inhibited by contracts the team has on the book.
"We have taken money back on deals before and will do it again if we have to," he said.
So right now, there is nothing that the Phillies general manager is discounting.
Buy or sell?
That is the daily question.
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