The Phillies really don't want to sell. But as CBSSports.com colleague Jon Heyman wrote Sunday, they're preparing to at least consider it with Cole Hamels.
The Yankees really don't want to buy. General manager Brian Cashman keeps saying he wants to resolve their rotation issues internally, and that he thinks they can.
But now that we're into July, even a short winning streak or losing streak can convince a team to do what it doesn't want to.
A week's worth of wins could lift the Phillies back into the National League East race, and end any thought of moving Hamels (or Shane Victorino). A few more bad outings by fill-in starters could up the pressure on Cashman to go outside the organization for help.
The summer trade market has been slower than ever to develop, in part because the addition of a second wild-card team leaves even more teams feeling that they're in contention. As of Sunday night, 21 of the 30 teams in baseball were within five games of a playoff spot.
The Phillies were a season-high 7 1/2 games out.
As recently as last Friday, Phillies people were saying somewhat confidently that the long-hoped hot streak was coming, with Chase Utley already back in the lineup and Ryan Howard soon to follow. By Sunday, after three losses in Miami, one Phillies person texted, "We stink right now."
How bad will they have to stink to actually pull the trigger on a Hamels trade? How convinced would they need to be that they can't keep Hamels this winter, when he becomes a free agent? How big a return would they need to tempt them?
They may not even know the answer to those questions yet. If there's one thing we've learned about July, it's that teams in the position the Phillies are in reassess everything regularly, and whether they like it or not emotions play a big part. Every year, there's a team ready to sell that decides against it because of a few wins that make them think they have a chance (the White Sox were that team last year).
One thing we do know: If Hamels is on the market, this very quickly stops being a dull trade market. If Hamels and Milwaukee's Zack Greinke are both on the market (the Brewers are six games out of a playoff spot), along with Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster of the Cubs, this becomes one of the most interesting midseason pitching markets in recent memory.
Meanwhile, the Yankees start Freddy Garcia on Monday night and David Phelps on Wednesday against the Rays. Garcia and Phelps are filling in for CC Sabathia (who is not expected to be out long) and Andy Pettitte (who is).
On to 3 to Watch:
1. Garcia didn't make it out of the second inning in back-to-back starts in late April. His 12.51 ERA as a starter is still the worst of any pitcher allowed to make as many as four starts this season. And now, with Pettitte expected to miss a couple of months, the Yankees need either Garcia or Phelps to prove at least competent. Garcia's chance comes in Yankees at Rays, Monday night (7:10 ET) at Tropicana Field. The good news for Garcia and Phelps: They face a Rays team that is now starting to show the strain of Evan Longoria's extended absence. The Rays just lost six of seven against the Royals and Tigers, scoring just 17 runs in the process and causing manager Joe Maddon to tweet: "At some point you have to be able to cover your mistakes with your offense. We haven't been able to do that."
2. Assuming you could get either one, would you rather have Hamels or Greinke? National League manager Tony La Russa in effect made his choice, using one of his manager picks on Hamels and leaving Greinke off the team. Greinke, 4-0 with a 1.67 ERA in his last six starts, makes his next start in Marlins at Brewers, Monday night (8:10 ET) at Miller Park.
3. Any scouts who go to watch Hamels in Phillies at Mets, Thursday night (7:10 ET) at Citi Field, will get to see the week's only matchup of two All-Star starting pitchers. Hamels, who was 2-3 with a 4.20 ERA in June, will face R.A. Dickey, who was 5-0 with an 0.93 ERA and two one-hitters. The last pitcher to throw a one-hitter against the Phillies: R.A. Dickey, in August 2010. And who had the Phillies' lone hit that night at Citi Field? Cole Hamels.