07/29/09 7:31 PM EST
Marlins won't concede division to Phils
Florida unfazed by Philadelphia's acquisition of Lee
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
And that was before Philadelphia swung a blockbuster deal prior to Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.
On Wednesday afternoon, hours before Florida -- in sole possession of second place -- took on division-rival Atlanta at Land Shark Stadium, Philadelphia agreed to send prospects Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald and Lou Marson to Cleveland for outfielder Ben Francisco and 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee.
The addition of Lee gave the Phillies four above-average lefties in the starting rotation and a fearsome duo at the top in Lee and reigning World Series Most Valuable Player Cole Hamels.
But the Marlins -- while noting it was a good move -- aren't ready to give up hopes of winning a division crown just yet.
"We feel like we can compete with them," right-hander Chris Volstad said. "We feel like we can compete with anybody, so we're really not too worried about that."
At this point, the more reasonable goal for the Marlins seems to be capturing the Wild Card. But Florida needed to jump four teams for that spot entering Wednesday's game -- the leading Giants, followed by the Rockies, Cubs and Cardinals -- while the NL East has just one team standing in its way.
Though that one team is a very good one.
"I feel like our focus is going to be on the Phillies," added Volstad. "I think if you look at it as, 'Oh, let's try to get the Wild Card,' you might not play your best baseball. You always want to be first place in the division, so I feel like our goal is going to be chasing the Phillies. If we can focus on that and keep doing that, maybe the Wild Card will fall into place."
The low-payroll Marlins have said they're looking into potentially making a deal before the Deadline, but a blockbuster trade like the Phillies just made likely won't happen.
It is necessary, however?
"That's not my job to think that," second baseman Dan Uggla said. "I'm more than confident in the group that we have in this clubhouse to get the job done."
Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said the communication between him and the front office has picked up over the past few days, but that doesn't mean a deal will happen.
"[President of baseball operations] Larry [Beinfest] and [general manager Michael Hill] and myself, since Day 1, we always sat down and talked, 'Hey, how can we improve this team?'" Gonzalez said. "And it seems like, at the Deadline, everybody wants to make a big move. We thought and discussed improving this team from the very first day -- even the last week or two of Spring Training."
Deal or no deal, the surging Marlins still have postseason aspirations -- no matter what their division rivals are doing in the trade market.
"It doesn't matter," Uggla said. "You can't read into anything until the season is over with. So whether they got Lee or [Roy] Halladay or somebody else, you still have the same goal, and that's to win the division. Whether we do that, or whether we win the Wild Card, who knows?
"Time will tell."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.