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REPORT: Phillies backed out of Papelbon deal

Gang, we may be in for a very slow pre-July 31 trade deadline.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

That sound you hear? Oh, those are just the tires screeching on the hot July asphalt of pretty much any Phillies trade talks.

When the Phils brought on Andy MacPhail to be the new team's president, but not until the end of the season, they put the entire front office in an even greater state of flux. The current president, Pat Gillick, remains in charge, with general manager Ruben Amaro still maintaining his position as well.

The same day MacPhail press conference was held, Gillick told reporters afterwards that Amaro was going to be the trigger man on any trades this month.

"Ruben is going to be the GM through the end of the season. He's going to make any of the deals we make. He still has that authority. That's his job, to change personnel. That's not going to change."

Some of us chuckled, or rolled our eyes, or assumed he was flat out telling an untruth. As it turns out, that was probably a correct assessment, if these tweets from ESPN's Jayson Stark are to be believed.

Waiting for MacPhail on a Hamels deal makes sense. But what exactly does MacPhail need to weigh in on on a Papelbon trade?

No one knows exactly what the Phillies were offered for Papelbon, but multiple teams were interested, including the Blue Jays, Cubs, Rangers and Angels. Papelbon is dying to get out of Philadelphia, and it's reasonable to assume that the Phils are going to have to assume a portion of his contract next year in order to get a decent prospect back.

But this latest news, if true, gives the picture of a front office that seems a bit paralyzed by their new found state of flux. Who is in charge here? Who is making the decisions?

It sure doesn't appear as if it's Amaro, and perhaps that's why he made his controversial comments about Chase Utley's future on Tuesday, comments which got Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal all riled up.

"Does Ruben Amaro Jr. have a death wish?...

...Amaro is going to get fired, the entire industry knows that. But he figured to last the entire season as the Phillies transition from Pat Gillick to Andy MacPhail as club president. The question now is whether ownership will simply decide that Amaro is embarrassing the franchise, and that enough is enough."

What good does it do anyone for Amaro to continue to act as this team's general manager? Or at the very least, why is he still being asked to go in front of reporters and speak for the team, when it's clear he's being marginalized behind the scenes?

For the record, the substance of Amaro's comments weren't wrong. He is correct, although it's fair to question whether Hernandez can continue to be as productive as he has been. But why make them? Is he trying to make a point to his bosses? Is he just saying what he thinks because he feels freer to do so?

Between confusion over whether Gillick or MacPhail is calling the shots and the lame duck status of Amaro, it's seeming more and more likely that the Phils will be gripped by inaction during this year's trade deadline once again. MacPhail is known to be a slow mover, and it's possible he won't go forward with any big trades until the winter.

After all, he did that when he took over as the head of baseball operations in Baltimore, holding off on an Erik Bedard trade at the deadline and waiting until the winter. It's also important to remember he stole Adam Jones from Seattle in that deal, so perhaps he knows what he's doing.

At the end of the day, don't be surprised if you don't see much activity from the Phillies over the next few weeks. With so much turmoil engulfing the front office, it may be impossible for the team to move forward.