THOSE CLOSEST to Ruben Amaro Jr. characterize his management strategy in the same manner as most neutral observers. Aggressive.

So with 2 days to go before Sunday's 4 p.m. non-waiver trade deadline, the big unknown doesn't center on the general manager's ability to swing a deal, but what kind of deal he will eventually swing.

"He has a lot of lines in the water," former Phillies GM and trusted adviser Pat Gillick said last night.

Unlike the last two summers, the big fish has yet to bite. The Phillies made a play for switch-hitting outfielder Carlos Beltran, but were not willing to part with a top-level prospect for a player who will become a free agent after the season. The Giants were willing to part with that prospect, so up-and-coming pitcher Zack Wheeler went to New York, and Beltran linked up with San Francisco at Citizens Bank Park, where he started last night's series finale in rightfield, going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, while batting third.

Prior to the game, Beltran addressed the media alongside new manager Bruce Bochy in an interview room at the stadium. The last time Bochy was in that room, he was dissecting his team's NLCS-clinching victory over the Phillies last October.

The acquisition of Beltran did not clinch another title, but it did leave the Giants feeling more secure, particularly given the Phillies' pursuit of a similar hitter to add to the middle of their order.

It just so happens that Beltran has battered Giants pitching throughout his career, including ace starters Tim Lincecum (7-for-14, three doubles, one home run, six walks, one strikeout) and Matt Cain (6-for-15, two doubles, one triple, two walks, two strikeouts).

But the Mets never took the Phillies' offer serious enough to approach Beltran or his agent to gauge his interest in waiving his no-trade clause.

"They never approached me about Philadelphia," said Beltran, who had the right to veto any deal. "The only team they approached me about was the Giants, and, of course, I said yes."

By that time, the Phillies had moved on to more palatable targets, namely Astros outfielder Hunter Pence and White Sox slugger Carlos Quentin. But as of last night, there were no indications that a deal was imminent.

Gillick acknowledged yesterday that this year's trade market has been slow to develop. A big factor is that many teams are seeking the same thing: a righthanded bat with power. According to a report, the Braves were another team vying for Quentin and Pence. A report by ESPN yesterday suggested the Astros had already turned down a strong offer from the Phillies, believed to be top position prospect Jonathan Singleton and top pitching prospect Jarred Cosart.

There were indications that the White Sox were looking for rookie rightfielder Domonic Brown in exchange for Quentin, who has hit 20 home runs and has an .863 OPS. It is not clear if the Astros are insisting on Brown as part of the deal, although Houston GM Ed Wade is not believed to be under any pressure to trade the popular and affordable Pence, who is signed through the 2013 season.

As Gillick hinted, the Phillies are not limiting their scope to the market's biggest names.

The Padres are expected to ask for a significant return for standout setup man Mike Adams, who is under team control through next season. But they do have a righthanded power bat on an expiring contract in Ryan Ludwick who could sweeten the deal.

The Phillies' best option might be to hang on to their elite prospects, angle for lower-cost rotational players like Reed Johnson or Ryan Spilborghs along with one of the number of relievers available, then reevaluate the corner outfield trade market in the offseason.

For 2 years, Amaro has shown a knack for getting his man. Sometimes, though, restraint takes more strength.