For the Philadelphia Phillies, attempting to acquire an impact player through the waiver wire will be more difficult than trying to get Brett Favre to stay retired.
Since the Phillies currently have the best record in baseball, and the waiver order is the reverse order of the MLB standings, the remaining 29 other teams would have to pass on a player in order for the Phils to work out a deal.
However, as the beloved Matt Stairs proved in 2008, one player on any given swing or pitch can make all the difference.
Players such as Stairs, Jamie Moyer, Manny Ramirez, Rickey Henderson, Jeff Bagwell, John Smoltz and, most recently, Cody Ross, have all been dealt as part of August deals.
Regardless of how difficult it may be, the possibility still exists for the Phils to add a role player for the home stretch of the season,
And maybe, just maybe, this player will leave fans with another lasting postseason image.
Major league baseball’s waiver wire isn’t rocket science.
But it’s a close second.
The whole process begins when teams start placing players on waivers.
Each team can place up to seven players on waivers every day.
Once a player is claimed, the team has three options: (1) they can pull the player back, removing him from waivers, (2) they can allow him, and his contract, to go to the claiming team, or (3) they can attempt to negotiate a trade with the claiming team.
All within 72 hours.
As far as claims go, whichever team has the lowest winning percentage is awarded the claim.
If teams from both leagues claim the same player, the team with the lowest winning percentage that is in the same league as the player they are claiming is awarded the claim.
If a player passes through waivers unclaimed, the team is free to trade the player to any team they wish.
However, only players who are on teams’ 40-man rosters by August 31st are eligible for the postseason.
Basically, trades can still occur through the July 31st non-waiver deadline.
As well as a lot of headaches.
But what players may the Phillies be able to acquire through this process?
The Phillies must look at players whose salary will not push them over the luxury tax threshold, and who will be able to slide past every team in the league in order for the Phils to work out a deal.
A player capable of playing multiple infield positions while making less than a million dollars?
Sounds like a possibility.
Besides being able to play 1B, 2B, and 3B, Kennedy is also only making $750,000 this season.
In 91 games this season, Kennedy is batting .244 with seven home runs and 34 RBI.
However, when compared to the Phillies two reserve infielders, these numbers sound a lot better.
Michael Martinez is hitting just .221 with two homers and 19 RBI, while Wilson Valdez is batting .235 with no home runs and 16 RBI.
Pete Orr, a potential September call-up, batted .238 in 29 games for the Phils this season with just three RBI and extra base hits.
With Placido Polanco possibly facing another stint on the disabled list due to a mild sports hernia, the Phils may consider adding another infielder to contribute for the remainder of the season.
Kennedy, the 2002 ALCS MVP, has played at least 20 games at first, second, and third base this season, and has made just four errors total.
He also has a career .308 average in the postseason.
A free agent after this season, Kennedy could prove to be a valuable backup infielder at multiple positions as the Phils try to give players time off towards the end of the season.
With Dustin Ackley taking over at second base and the Mariners interested in seeing what their young talent can do for next season, Kennedy may be acquired in an August deal.
The Oakland A’s entire bullpen is seemingly filled with August waiver wire candidates.
But Breslow may have the best chance of falling to the Phils.
In 47 games this season, Breslow has 34 strikeouts and a 3.72 ERA in 38.2 innings. He has a career ERA of 3.00.
He’s given up just five earned runs since June 11th and has eight holds.
The aspect of Breslow’s game, however, that may interest the Phils has nothing to with stats.
What may catch the attention of the Phillies is the arm that Breslow uses to throw the ball.
Breslow is left handed.
The Phillies currently have just one left handed reliever on their roster in Antonio Bastardo, and only three left handers on their 40-man roster.
Although Breslow has by no means dominated left handed hitters this season, he could still prove to be a solid option out of the bullpen.
And, for $1.4 million this season, the left hander may make for an interesting option the rest of the way.
It’s safe to say that just about every member of the Los Angeles Dodgers has a chance of being a part of an August waiver deal.
But the Dodger that the Phils may have their eye on is Jamey Carroll.
The 37-year-old right hander is batting .294 in 105 games this season, well above his .278 career average.
Although he’s driven in just ten runs, Carroll’s presence in the field may be of more value to the Phils.
Carroll has split time between second base and shortstop this season, but has played 225 career games at third base.
This experience is what may interest the Phils, especially following the injury to Placido Polanco.
Carroll may be considered an upgrade over Martinez and Valdez, and can also give Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins days off during the final two months of the season.
The free agent-to-be is also making just $2.3 million this season.
And his .318 average in 22 at-bats against Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants doesn’t hurt his case, either.
The Phillies don’t need another right handed reliever, especially with Phillippe Aumont, Michael Schwimer, and Justin De Fratus serving as potential September call-ups.
Betancourt, however, may provide a bit of insurance.
In 51 games this season, Betancourt has a 3.77 ERA and 53 strikeouts to go along with just eight walks. He’s also fifth in the National League with 21 holds.
Betancourt has not given up an earned run since July 6th.
While the nearly $3.8 million he’s owed this season may be a turn-off, his addition to the Phils bullpen may be an upgrade over current Phillie David Herndon.
Betancourt’s 3.77 ERA and 53 strikeouts outmatch Herndon’s 4.21 ERA and 23 punch-outs, although Betancourt has appeared in close to 20 more games.
Lefthanders are batting just .247 against Betancourt, while Herndon has witnessed a .333 mark by opponents.
Betancourt has also had success against two of the Phillies potential postseason opponents.
In six games against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Betancourt has seven strikeouts while holding opponents to a .105 average. He has also managed nine strikeouts in five innings versus the Atlanta Braves.
Although not a necessity, Betancourt’s addition could further solidify the Phils bullpen while giving Michael Stutes’ arm a rest down the stretch.
Betancourt could also provide insurance should Jose Contreras suffer another setback this season.
The Chicago White Sox have gone from losers of seven straight games to winners in their last four.
However, if they decide to turn into sellers at some point in August, Ohman could be a solid pick-up for the Phils.
Ohman has appeared in 37 games this season and has struck out 41 batters in 37.1 innings.
Although his 4.10 ERA is high, his 11 strikeouts in July along with just two earned runs allowed are a little easier to digest.
And, again, Ohman has one characteristic in his favor.
He’s left handed.
Left handed hitters are batting just .225 against him this season. Ohman has also struck out 26 left handers while walking just five.
Ohman has seemingly pitched better with runners on base, as well.
With no one on base, Ohman has 18 strikeouts while holding opponents to a .275 average. With runners on base, Ohman has 23 strikeouts (15 with runners in scoring position) while keeping opponents to a .230 average.
Ohman is owed $1.5 million this season and $2.5 million in 2012.
But, a solid left handed option out of the bullpen may be too tempting for the Phillies to let pass.
Let’s just hope there’s no irony in his last name.
The Dodgers would have little reason to leave him on waivers but, if he somehow reached the Phils, MacDougal could be a huge steal.
In 40.1 innings this season, MacDougal has 27 strikeouts and 2.01 ERA while allowing just nine earned runs.
However, what makes MacDougal so appealing is not just the fact that he has 19 strikeouts against right handed hitters, while holding them to a .247 average.
It’s not just the fact that he’s allowed only three earned runs since June 18th.
And it’s not just because opponents are batting only .180 against him with runners in scoring position.
What makes MacDougal so appealing is the $500,000 he’s making this season.
The only problem is that nearly every other team, as well as the Dodgers, will also find this appealing.
While the chances are high that another team claims first baseman Jason Giambi and third baseman Ty Wigginton, the Colorado Rockies still have two other players who may interest the Phils.
Besides Betancourt, the Rockies bullpen also features right hander Matt Lindstrom.
Lindstrom has put up solid numbers with the Rockies this season, posting a 2.89 ERA in 43.2 innings while striking out 30 and walking 11.
The 31-year-old’s name was mentioned in trade rumors at the non-waiver deadline and, with a contract that pays him $2.8 million this season and $3.6 million in 2012, there’s a slight chance he slides through the waivers.
Lindstrom has also given up just three earned runs since July 2nd.
If only he were left handed.
When David Herndon’s .333 left handed opponents’ average is compared to Lindstrom’s .258 mark, the latter may be another upgrade.
Lindstrom also has found some success against potential postseason opponents of the Phils.
He has held the Arizona Diamondbacks to a .154 average while the San Francisco Giants are batting just .222 against him.
Besides a rough June, Lindstrom has displayed a kind of consistency that the Phillies may find intriguing as a potential late season addition.