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Phillies have options to make Saturday start

Phillies have options to make Saturday start

ST. LOUIS -- Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he knows exactly what he wants.

But can he make it happen?

He sounded confident on Tuesday afternoon at Busch Stadium, but that was before Phillies left-hander Jamie Moyer left the game after the first inning with a strained left elbow. The Phillies optioned right-hander Kyle Kendrick to Triple-A Lehigh Valley earlier in the day and recalled right-hander Andrew Carpenter to replace him. Carpenter was not expected to take a spot in the rotation, but that might change depending on the severity of Moyer's injury. Carpenter entered the game when Moyer exited.

Either way, they need a starter for Saturday.

Carpenter was not expected to take Kendrick's turn in the rotation Saturday against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park.

"I think we know exactly what we're going to do," Amaro said cryptically.

Is it likely the Phillies will make a trade?

"I'm not getting into likelihoods," he said.

Amaro said that left-hander J.A. Happ was a candidate. His return seems like a certainty with Kendrick in Triple-A and Moyer's injury. Happ allowed three hits and struck out three hitters in three scoreless innings on Tuesday night in Indianapolis. Amaro said Carpenter and right-hander Nelson Figueroa also are options, but Figueroa would need to clear waivers first.

"We have some other balls in the air," Amaro said.

Like trades.

The Phillies have scouted Oakland Athletics right-hander Ben Sheets. He is 4-9 with a 4.53 ERA in 20 starts, but is 1-2 with a 2.25 ERA in his last three. He pitched on Monday, which means he could pitch on normal rest Saturday. Sheets will be a free agent after the season, which means the price for him would be less than other notables.

Like Houston's Roy Oswalt and Arizona's Dan Haren.

Oswalt (6-11, 3.12 ERA) makes $15 million this season, $16 million next season and has a $12 million club option in 2012. The Astros might need to absorb some of Oswalt's contract to make a trade with the Phillies. Haren (7-8, 4.60 ERA) makes $8.25 million this season, $12.75 million in 2011 and 2012 and has a $15.5 million club option with a $3.5 million buyout in 2013. The rebuilding D-dbacks want prospects, but do the Phillies have enough?

Any of them would be an upgrade, but Amaro wondered if it would even matter.

"If we continue to play the way we're playing, I don't know there's a trade to make that would make us a playoff contender," Amaro said. "We have to play better baseball or we're not going to get anywhere. It's really up to the players who are swinging the bats and catching the baseballs and making the pitches. I could get Cy Young and Mariano Rivera and it wouldn't matter. What needs to be addressed is that the team needs to play better."

The Phillies have explored trades for right-fielder Jayson Werth, who the organization thinks will be difficult to re-sign in the offseason when he becomes a free agent. Amaro reiterated on Tuesday that he would trade somebody from the 25-man roster, knowing it could weaken one area to strengthen another.

That is a shift in philosophy from 2009, when Amaro said he looked to add talent to the big league roster, not subtract talent.

Why the change?

"Well, if the players were playing better, then I wouldn't be considering moving them," he said.

The Phillies feel they need pitching, but Amaro put the onus on his struggling offensive stars: Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez and Werth.

"Overall, the last two months or so have been trying as far as our approach offensively and our production," he said. "It's been disappointing to me, frankly. And I think disappointing to the guys playing, too. I don't think they're particularly happy with how they've produced. It's certainly something that has to change. We're putting too much heat on our pitching staff to have to be perfect. That's just not how it works. It's not how we were built."

The Phillies could trade Werth for starting pitching and bring up Lehigh Valley right fielder Domonic Brown to take his place, but Amaro said he does not know how productive Brown would be.

"We think he's getting closer," Amaro said.

Amaro said that whenever Brown is promoted, he will not be a part-time or platoon player. He will play every day.

"When we think the time is right for him to come, he'll come," Amaro said. "Right now, we need the guys who are playing on a daily basis to play better."

Regardless, Amaro said the Phillies will not be sellers at the July 31 Trade Deadline.

"I don't think that's going to happen, but I can't say 100 percent for sure," he said. "I view us as buyers, and I view us as a team that's still going to be a contending team. It depends on the guys that are in this clubhouse. It's up to them. They're going to have to make it happen, as they have in the past."

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