5 best Phillies' deadline trades all had impact on playoff teams; can it happen again in 2021?
The best trades at the July 31 deadline are not exclusively from adding big-name players for playoff runs.
Sure, the Phillies have benefited from doing that over the years, and they could try that approach again this year.
The Phillies (47-46) were just 2½ games back of the first-place Mets in the NL East after their 6-4 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday.
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But the Phillies have had some of their best deadline deals as sellers by unloading high-priced veterans in order to give young players a chance to play regularly, and by trading for some lesser-known players who ended up shining.
Here, then, is a look at their five best deals at the deadline:
5. July, 2011
Did the Phillies really need Hunter Pence? Probably not. They set a club record that season with 102 wins behind a pitching staff for the ages. So they easily would have won the NL East without Pence.
But the Phillies loaded up anyway because the offense was struggling somewhat. The Phillies had allowed Jayson Werth to leave as a free agent after the 2010 season. While Ryan Howard still hit 33 homers and knocked in 116 runs, it was a significant drop from hitting at least 45 homers with at least 136 RBIs in each season from 2006-09.
Chase Utley also missed nearly half the season with injuries, as did Placido Polanco. And Raul Ibanez wasn't nearly as productive as he was the season before.
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Pence, acquired from the Astros, certainly did his part. He hit .324 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs in 54 games with the Phillies. And none of the players that the Phillies sent to Houston amounted to much in the major leagues.
Alas, the Phillies' season ended disappointingly in the NLDS, and Pence's stay with the Phillies turned out to be a short one.
But at least the Phillies went for it in a big way. And there's something to be said for trying to maximize an opportunity.
4. July, 2006
This was the classic salary dump for the Phillies, who were nine games under .500 in late July.
The Phillies shouldn't have been in that situation. Howard was in the middle of a prolific 58 home run season in which he would win the MVP award. Utley would hit 32 homers and bat .309, while Jimmy Rollins would hit 25 homers with 36 stolen bases.
Yet the Phillies were floundering, and general manager Pat Gillick felt a shakeup was needed. So Gillick traded All-Star right fielder Bobby Abreu and starting pitcher Cory Lidle to the Yankees. In another deal, he sent underachieving veteran David Bell to the Brewers.
The Phillies got next to nothing in return in either deal. But it didn't matter. The Yankees gave up four fringe minor leaguers because they had agreed to take on the remainder of Abreu's $13.6 million salary.
By trading Abreu, Shane Victorino got the opportunity to play every day.
The deals signaled a changing of the guard for the Phillies, who in essence turned over the franchise to Rollins, Utley and Howard.
The moves paid off right away. The Phillies went 41-24 after hitting their low-point on July 25, just before the trades. They were playing so well afterward that they traded for pitcher Jamie Moyer in August.
That finish was a prelude to five straight NL East crowns and a World Series championship in 2008.
3. July, 2008
At the time, it seemed rather underwhelming when the Phillies traded for Joe Blanton, who was 5-12 with a 4.96 ERA with the A's that season.
Blanton, a former first-round draft pick, never lost again that season. He went 4-0 in the regular season, then 2-0 in the postseason. That included a Game 4 win over Tampa Bay in the World Series that gave the Phillies a 3-1 series lead. Blanton also hit a home run in that game.
Blanton was mostly steady with the Phillies for four straight NL East titles. And the minor leaguers the Phillies gave up didn't amount to much.
2. July, 2009
This deal was one that benefited both teams. The Phillies reaped the short-term reward – another World Series appearance – when they acquired Cliff Lee, while Cleveland got the long-term benefit of Carlos Carrasco.
The Phillies had to do something. After winning the World Series in 2008, the pitching staff was struggling. Cole Hamels was having a terrible season for him, as was Brett Myers and Chan Ho Park.
They were so desperate that they coaxed 37-year-old Pedro Martinez out of retirement in mid-July.
Things looked bleak when the Phillies struck out in their attempts to trade for Toronto ace Roy Halladay because former Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. refused to include top prospect Domonic Brown in the deal.
Amaro pivoted and acquired Lee and outfielder Ben Francisco from Cleveland in return for four minor-leaguers, headlined by Carrasco.
Lee went 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA after the trade. He was even better in the postseason, going 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA. He won both of his starts in the World Series, the only games the Phillies won in their 4-2 series loss to the Yankees.
But Lee was traded to Seattle after that season, ironically on the same day that the Phillies traded for Halladay. Lee returned as a free agent in 2011.
Carrasco developed into one of the top American League pitchers from 2014-18. He's currently with the Mets. Lee retired in 2014.
But for that 2009 season, the Phillies accomplished their objective of that deadline deal.
1. June, 1989
Phillies GM Lee Thomas put on a clinic in deadline deals by acquiring seven players over three trades that helped the Phillies both in the short and long term.
Three of those players starred on the Phillies' 1993 World Series team.
The Phillies got outfielder Lenny Dykstra and reliever Roger McDowell from the Mets in exchange for second baseman Juan Samuel. They got first baseman John Kruk and infielder Randy Ready from the Padres for infielder Chris James.
And they got pitcher Terry Mulholland, third baseman Charlie Hayes and reliever Dennis Cook from the Giants in exchange for reliever Steve Bedrosian.
Four years later, Dykstra hit 19 homers with 37 steals, Kruk hit .316 and Mulholland had a 3.25 ERA as the Phillies went to the World Series.
As for the players the Phillies gave up, Samuel, who hit 28 homers with 35 stolen bases in 1987, was traded by the Mets after the season and never approached those numbers again.
James was a journeyman. Bedrosian paid immediate dividends for the Giants, saving 17 games the rest of that season in helping San Francisco reach the World Series. But he was on the downside of his career, and retired after the 1991 season.
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.