By Peter Gleason

Just two weeks ago the lame-ass Philly media were speculating that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. might have saved his job because he was able to unload pitcher Cole Hamels for six prospects, one or two of whom might ever see the light of a major league roster.


As he has proved once again, Amaro is not up to the job of being anything but a placeholder for whomever future CEO Andy MacPhail chooses to replace him — the sooner the better!

Take what Amaro said last night:

“I don’t think that Chase [Utley, above] has that desire to leave, frankly. And the Phillies don’t have the desire to move him out of here.”

In other words, the feckless Amaro and the Phillies are letting the trade market come to them instead of being proactive.

Now it is true that the team won’t get much in trade for a 36-year-old, physically unfit second baseman. But that’s not the point.

Trade discussions can heat up quickly, especially with a change of heart or one phone call, so it would be foolish to say Utley absolutely will not be traded before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline. But sources have told that discussions have cooled since Friday, when the Angels and possibly other contenders thought they would strike a deal for Utley.

Utley has complete no-trade rights, so if he does not want to leave, he has the right to veto any deal. But while Amaro publicly downplayed the Phillies’ desire to move their iconic second baseman, they have been trying hard to trade him. In fact, they have received multiple offers for Utley, although Amaro would not acknowledge them.

“That’s something I’d really rather not discuss,” Amaro said.

Amaro said Utley has not told him that he wants to be traded. He even said it is likely Utley would not be traded. But Amaro said similar things in the past about Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon, who were both dealt in July.

Of course, the big difference is Hamels and Papelbon wanted to be traded. Utley might be content simply playing out his contract with the Phillies.

One factor for Utley is playing time. He wants to play regularly because he plans to play next season, and some teams might not be able to provide that. And now that Phillies third baseman Maikel Franco is on the disabled list, Utley might play even more than he has since returning from the DL on Aug. 7.

But if Utley is not traded this month, he almost is certainly playing his final few weeks with the Phillies. Utley has a $2 million buyout on an $11 million club option, but while Amaro said it is a “possibility” they could pick up Utley’s option, it would be very surprising if they did.

The Phillies know it is time to move on from 2008.

“The rebuild isn’t over,” Amaro said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but we’re making some progress and we’re continuing to look for ways to progress and move forward with younger players.”

So it could be seen as a lost opportunity for the Phillies’ rebuilding efforts if they have to watch Utley leave at the end of the season with no compensation, as opposed to a prospect they might receive in a trade.

“I don’t think it’s a lost opportunity, necessarily,” Amaro said. “We have to assess a lot of different things about him being here. There are a lot of positives to still have Chase Utley in our uniform. Happy to have him continue to do what he does for the fans, for our team and for the young players who are watching him. He goes about his business exactly how we want our players to go about their business. So I don’t think there’s anything bad about having him here.”

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