Balls, Sticks, & Stuff
Rampant Rumors Phuel Speculation
On Wednesday night's Baseball Tonight, Peter Gammons  was on board to give insight and analysis on trades that could happen in the next several days leading up to the July 31st trade deadline.  Several names were mentioned as trade bait:  Randy Johnson, Steve Finley, Corey Lidle, Kris Benson, Ron Villone...the list went on and on.  As a discussion ensued regarding each individual player, it seemed Gammons mentioned the Phillies in nearly scenario.  One thing Gammons was emphatic about was that Chase Utley would not be traded due to Placido Polanco's expected departure via free agency in the offseason. 

While a transcript is not available (thankfully so, if I found myself skimming BBTN transcripts I might have to admit I have a problem), I do not recall Gammons mentioning Ryan Howard as being involved in the scenarios.  I find that interesting in the sense that I believe Howard is the player the Phillies should use to make a deal, for several reasons.  For one, I agree with Gammons and Bill "Phillies Fan" Liming that Utley will be needed next year to fill Polanco's void.  Another player often discussed as trade bait is Ryan Madson.  I think he fills a valuable a role in eating the middle innings of games that many of the Phillies starters can't seem to eat (and even after a Benson or a Villone or a Lidle is brought in, there is little to no guarentee that the Phillies will not still need a "middle-inning-eating-shut-the-other-team-down-for-the-offense-to-catch-up-specialist").  Gavin Floyd and Cole Hamels are also mentioned as trade bait, but the percentage of great pitching prospects that turn into cheap young major league stars is less than ideal (unless you are in the Oakland A's organization) and therefore every team, Phillies included, should hang on to them as much as they can.  If I were Ed Wade, I would not have a problem dealing Marlon Byrd, he is 26 and has yet to show consistency, however, if I can see that, the other general managers around baseball just might see it too.

By process of elimination, that leaves Ryan Howard.  Since Howard is blocked by Jim Thome in the Phillies system for years to come, there is less of a future need for him than the other young players.  Now if the Phillies could find a way to take Larry Bowa in a trade, they might really be on to something.

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