NEW YORK -- All the attention devoted to the Phillies these days surrounds the trade deadline -- and rightfully so.
There’s not much worth watching on the field.
The Phillies went down again Wednesday afternoon, suffering an 11-2 loss to the New York Mets at Citi Field. The defeat dropped the last-place Phillies to 47-61 as they head to Washington for a four-game series against the Nationals (see Instant Replay).
By the time the Phillies take the field for Thursday night’s game, a badly needed remake of this team could be underway. The non-waiver trade deadline arrives at 4 p.m. on Thursday and there’s a chance that one, two, three or four players could be gone. Then again, there's a chance no one could go. That’s how fickle the trade deadline is. One minute a guy appears to be headed out the door. The next, he’s sticking around.
“I’m just going to wait and see and go from there,” manager Ryne Sandberg said after the Phillies’ latest loss. “You know, if we stay together as a group, there are games to be played and teams we can try to catch with playing baseball and putting wins together. That becomes the goal. But it’s yet to be seen until after tomorrow.”
Sandberg will be pleased when the deadline passes.
“Just to know what we’re doing,” he said.
Players can still be traded in August, but the process is trickier because waivers are required.
There are 54 games remaining on this road to nowhere.
Sandberg hopes there will be some decent scenery along the way.“We have to continue to battle,” he said. “It’s fun to win games. Putting wins together is even more fun.”
The list of players who could be on the move in the coming hours and beyond is lengthy: A.J. Burnett’s name is warm. So is Antonio Bastardo’s and Marlon Byrd’s. Cliff Lee was on the Cardinals’ list before they traded for pitcher Justin Masterson on Wednesday. Jonathan Papelbon wants out, but might not get his wish. Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley all look to be staying put.
Kyle Kendrick’s name has been mentioned here and there in trade rumors, though he didn't help his value with a 6.94 ERA in six July starts. That mark actually went down a tad as he pitched six innings and allowed four runs in taking the loss Wednesday.
Overall, Kendrick has not helped his free-agent value with a 5-11 record and a 4.92 ERA for the season.
“I haven’t been thinking about it much,” Kendrick said. “I think I worried about it more last year. I just want to stay healthy, get some innings and let next year happen.”
Kendrick was part of five NL East championship teams and a World Series winner with the Phillies.
Now, he’s part of a team that is about to miss the playoffs for a third straight year and will probably be part of the changes that are coming.
Kendrick was asked if it was hard to believe that the Phillies got so bad so quickly.
“No,” he said. “Guys just aren’t producing. Guys just are having tough years, bad years. It’s baseball. Obviously you want to have a good year every year, but hopefully we can find a way to get better. Like I said, I’ve just got to go out and do my job. That’s all I can worry about.”
Kendrick said he “felt pretty good about how he threw the ball.” All four of the runs that he allowed came in the fifth inning when the Mets loaded the bases on an infield hit, a single and a walk. One run scored on a wild pitch by Kendrick. Three more scored on Daniel Murphy’s home run to left.
Kendrick left down by two runs, but the bullpen could not keep it close. Mario Hollands and Justin De Fratus combined to give up five runs in the seventh and Phillippe Aumont was tagged for a two-run homer in the eighth.
After going hitless in the first two games of the series, Ryan Howard had an RBI double to knock in the Phillies’ first run. Howard later was hit on the right elbow by a pitch and could sit out against lefty Gio Gonzalez on Thursday night. That might have been the plan anyway.
Howard has been offered around in trades, but there are no takers. He will be in Washington on Thursday. Is he curious to see who won’t be? Is he curious to see the makeup of the team after the deadline?
“To be honest with you, not really,” he said. “I’m just focused on tomorrow night’s game. It doesn’t happen until it happens, you know what I mean? If something happens, then it’s something you are faced with and you take it as it comes.”