Last year, the Philadelphia Phillies got Hunter Pence at the trade deadline from the Houston Astros. In 2010, the Phillies acquired Roy Oswalt from the Astros. And in 2009, the Phils traded with the Cleveland Indians for Cliff Lee.
You're probably wondering why I'm even bothering mentioning these past trades. Well, I'll tell you that all three of these trades have something in common. There are many correct answers, but can you guess which one I'm thinking of?
No, it's not that each of the players were All-Star caliber, nor is it that the deals were all buying trades by Philadelphia and that they traded away top prospects to get the top players on the market. It's not that they were the only trades made in each season they occurred. It's a little more obscure than that.
Want a hint? Take a look at the date on which they all occurred. And by the date, I don't mean day of the week.
All right, enough with the three-year-old-style guessing games. If you hadn't figured out the answer already, I'll tell you now: It's that they all occurred on the 29th of July. Sorry if you were expecting more than that.
But the fact that these trades all occurred on the same date doesn't necessarily mean anything...right? Does it?
Since Ruben Amaro, Jr. took over the helm before the 2009 season, he's made a trade each of his first three seasons as the Phillies' general manager. They've all been to acquire talent, not to trade it away. Each trade has been for one of the top trade targets available in that year. And each trade has gradually weakened the farm system as well, in addition to improving the major league club.
But the most significant part (at least in my opinion)? They've all occurred on July 29.
Last year, before I applied to be a Featured Columnist for the Phillies here at Bleacher Report, I wrote an article that got 330 reads. It talked about the Phillies' tendencies of making a splash at the deadline and acquiring big-time, All-Star major league talent. I talked about the Phillies' targets last year and predicted that they would go all-out that day and acquire Hunter Pence by the clock striking midnight on July 30.
I went to the game that night with some family. Doc Halladay had a no-hitter going into the sixth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates until Domonic Brown lazily let it drop for a bloop single in front of him. I ranted to my cousin and brother about how he had no business being on the roster and that he needed to be sent down. That was the last time Brown saw major league action, and at the time, I thought it was rightfully so. But man, how opinions have changed.
The Phillies won the game, and we saw fireworks afterward. However, none of that was the biggest event for the Phillies, let alone the City of Brotherly Love, that occurred that night.
Before the game, the Philadelphia Eagles had gone out and signed the top free agent on the market, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. But another Philly transaction came to light, one I followed throughout the night at the game. I probably spent more time on my phone refreshing the page to see whether a deal had finally materialized than watching the game. Isn't that sad?
I knew about it before Amaro's face came on the big scoreboard after the fireworks and announced the trade. Hunter Pence had been acquired for Jarred Cosart, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid, and a player to be named later (Domingo Santana). The first-place Phillies got their man, and fans were pleased. A World Series run was in the cards. And yes, pun intended.
Now, a year later, the Phillies are on the opposite end of success. They're last in the NL East at 45-56, and their five-consecutive-division-titles streak is in jeopardy. They're not really considering buying this year. They're sellers.
Among the players who could be traded, according to both rumors and my speculation, are Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Juan Pierre, Kyle Kendrick, Ty Wigginton, Jimmy Rollins, Cliff Lee and—would you know it—Hunter Pence. Go figure.
The Phillies are no National League powerhouse in 2012. Their farm system is no powerhouse either. And the hope is that, if the Phillies do have to sell this year, that they get some quality prospects in return to rebuild and restock the farm teams.
With the Phillies losing Saturday night 2-1 to the Braves, thus losing the series (and their hopes for the season, in my opinion), their chances of selling have grown exponentially. And with July 29 being today, a trade could loom sooner rather than later.
Last year I predicted that Pence would be acquired. This year is more up in the air. More than one player could be dealt, or none at all.
But I'll make a 2012 prediction: at least two of Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, and Joe Blanton will be wearing different uniforms on Wednesday. Maybe Cliff Lee, too, if the Phillies decide to change their stance on trading him after making it known that they will not. Those chances are much less, though, and if I plan on keeping my perfect record alive, I'll have to pass on making a prediction on that.
Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com emphasized the July 29 trades from the past couple of years yesterday as well. And I think that if Amaro's going to make a move at all, the first (or possibly only) move will come today. Stay tuned.