NEW YORK - Maybe Pat Gillick was just being coy. Or maybe he really doesn't pay attention to the rumor mill that seems to chug nonstop at this time of year.
(For the record, we believe that the Phillies' general manager was being coy. It's in the job description, you know.)
Anyway, it was about 90 minutes before his latest acquisition, Big Joe Blanton, took the ball in what turned out to be one of the Phillies' best wins of the season, a stirring, 8-6, come-from-behind victory over the New York Mets in a first-place showdown at Shea Stadium.
Gillick was sitting in the dugout when he was asked about the reported blockbuster deal the Phillies had been working on with the Colorado Rockies.
"What deal?" he said.
The one that would have netted the Phils reliever Brian Fuentes and slugger Matt Holliday for a package of young talent headed by Shane Victorino, Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, J.A. Happ, and any other Phillies farmhand whose name has ever appeared in Baseball America.
"Sounds like somebody's dreaming," said Gillick, rolling his eyes.
Someone might have dreamed that So Taguchi - previously 0 for 16 as a pinch-hitter - would have the big hit off the bench in the Phillies' six-run ninth last night, but we'd bet that this trade scenario wasn't dreamed up. We'd bet that the Phillies probed the possibility of acquiring both Fuentes and Holliday. They're cheating their fans if they didn't.
There are eight days to go before the non-waiver trade deadline, and even if the Colorado blockbuster is not revisited, it seems likely that Blanton, who allowed five runs over six innings in his Phillies debut, will not be the team's last stretch-drive acquisition.
He can't be because, even after last night's riveting win, this team has holes.
"We're still working," Gillick said. "We're talking. I don't think [other teams] will get serious till the last few days. The asking prices are high right now. As time goes on, they might be reduced."
Gillick was asked what his club's needs are.
"Probably another arm," he said. "Probably another bat.
"I think we'll get one of them. I'd say the chances of a pitcher are better than a hitter."
"Yeah," he said. "Preferably lefthanded."
Fuentes is still available, and the Phillies remain interested.
"I don't think another move is imperative," Gillick said. "If it's the right thing, then we'll do it, but not if it's something ridiculous."
No one in the system is untouchable, Gillick said. He added that everyone is looking for pitching and catching.
So you can bet that everyone wants Carrasco and Marson, who are at double-A Reading.
Gillick said Carrasco is still a year away from the majors. He added that the 21-year-old righthander projects as a No. 3 starter.
There's no way a future No. 3 holds up a deal.
Gillick is high on Marson, the catcher recently selected for the U.S. Olympic team. He thinks the 22-year-old Arizonan could be an every-day catcher in the majors in a year. Moving him might be risky, given the state of catching in the Phillies system, but the team is in a win-now mode - that's why it made a play for CC Sabathia, finishing second or third in the sweepstakes behind Milwaukee.
"We want to win," Gillick said.
Wins have not been plentiful for the Phillies lately. They led the Mets by 71/2 games on June 13, then lost 18 of 30 as the Mets pulled into a first-place tie entering last night's Shea showdown. Offense has hurt the Phils; they averaged fewer than four runs in those 30 games.
Last night, the offense arrived late - that happens when Johan Santana is the opposing pitcher - but it was fairly spectacular when it did. Taguchi and Jimmy Rollins hit two-run doubles to key a ninth-inning rally that left Mets fans booing.
The Phils' recent offensive woes have left some rethinking the off-season decision to not re-sign Aaron Rowand, who got a five-year, $60 million deal from San Francisco.
"I think it would be nice to have Rowand," Gillick said.
Any regrets about not re-signing him?
"No," he said. "Not at all. Because of the length."
Gillick also said he had no regrets about not making a late run at Kyle Lohse after he lingered on the free-agent market all winter. Lohse has 12 wins for St. Louis.
"We made a commitment to go with [Kris] Benson, and it didn't work out," Gillick said, adding that it's "fairly doubtful" that Benson, still recovering from shoulder surgery, will contribute this season.
So it looks as if Blanton and a reliever to be determined, maybe a hitter, will be the Phillies' stretch-drive additions. Otherwise, as Gene Hackman said in Hoosiers, "this is your team."
Last night, that team took the No. 7 train into Shea Stadium and won a huge ball game. Tonight, Brett Myers gets a chance to show he's a new man. The race is getting hot. After last night's pulsating win, the Phillies might be doing the same.