,At one point Thursday, Phillies general manager Pat Gillick was pretty confident he was going to pull the trigger on a deal for Manny Ramirez. At another juncture he was even more certain he had a deal done for another starting pitcher.
But, when the dust settled, Ramirez and his antics were shipped to Tinseltown, the mystery pitcher stayed put and Gillick, as his Canadian moniker accurately suggested, stood pat.
All efforts to improve the team, whether it was by adding a big bat, another starter, or possibly even a left reliever, proved futile, as the Phillies chose not to overpay for the available players and maintain the status quo.
As expected, the Phillies went hard after another lefty arm in the bullpen, making offers for players like Atlanta's Will Ohman, Pittsburgh's Josh Grabow, Kansas City's Ron Mahay, Seattle's Arthur Rhodes and San Francisco's Jack Taschner.
However, Gillick felt the price for those arms were far too steep and balked. Apparently, a lot of other G.M.'s felt the same way, because only Rhodes was traded - to the Florida Marlins, while the others all stayed with their current club.
"We made an effort to try to get a left-handed reliever but it just didn't work out," said Gillick. "But, we thought we were closer on something else."
When pressed for details, Gillick confirmed that it was for a starting pitcher, but wouldn't divulge much more information.
"It was a 3-way deal and we had an agreement from the one club, but they weren't able to get the third club to also agree," Gillick said.
Gillick also confirmed that the Phillies were significant players in the discussions for Ramirez, even feeling confident enough at one point to think he was coming to Philadelphia.
But ultimately, Gillick decided to hold on to his own prospects rather than part with them, and the Red Sox worked the three team deal with Pittsburgh and the Los Angeles Dodgers, with Ramirez going to L.A., Jason Bay going from Pittsburgh to Boston, and the Dodgers and Red Sox each sending a pair of prospects to the Pirates.
"We were capable of pleasing other clubs," said Gillick. "But we have to please ourselves a little bit too."
Meaning, the Phillies didn't want to part with their perceived future.
To Gillick's credit, he has swung August trades in seasons past for players who have made it through waivers. And, in the process, he netted a couple of key ingredients -- namely Jamie Moyer and Jeff Conine.
Which means Joe Blanton might not be the final deal he makes as the Phils G.M. before riding off into the sunset.
But, Gillick said that if the Phillies continue to be in need of a lefty reliever, then he thinks maybe one of the guys he tried to trade for Thursday will make it through waivers. Considering the glut of teams looking for the same thing, it might be a long shot.
Don't expect J.A. Happ to fill that role. Happ, who was recalled from the minors after Adam Eaton was sent down, will only be used sparingly out of the pen, mostly in multiple inning relief, and get the occasional spot start.
The Phillies still see Happ as a starting pitcher, and don't want to change any part of his routine.
Perhaps the one person excited that a big deal didn't come down was centerfielder Shane Victorino, who had been at the heart of nearly every Phillies trade rumor for the past month.
"It's nice that it's all said and done," said Victorino. "You watch ESPN and you read the papers every day, both locally and nationally and your name is getting thrown around. I think we have a great team here and if we play like we have been we'll be fine."
One positive the Phillies can take from trade deadline day is that their closest rivals - Florida and the New York Mets - did little to nothing to improve themselves.
The Marlins just added Rhodes and the Mets were equally inactive as the Phillies.
"If any one of the three of us would have made a big deal, then that team would have been the strongest team," said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. "But, I said it before. All three of these teams are pretty even and all three of us can win it. We all have weaknesses, but it will come down to whoever plays the best."