Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro last week responded to a text seeking an interview with six very direct words.

"Yes. But I'm not trading anyone.''

Amaro's position is understandable at this time, what with nobody running away yet in the NL East (though the Braves generally have played well). A few days later the Phillies are no better off, at 36-40, and 7 1/2 games out, and while Amaro still may not trade anyone at this moment, people familiar with their situation suggest they may consider dealing a few veterans if things don't improve in the next few weeks -- though they'd be much more inclined to move some than others.

Word among folks in the know is that the two players Amaro is least inclined to trade are, no surprise, the very two players who will garner the most interest on the trade market. Star starter Cliff Lee and star closer Jonathan Papelbon are deemed by Phillies people as vital, though no one's quite untouchable in the Phillies' world.

The reason for their value to the Phillies goes beyond the fact that both are still on top of their game. Just as big a factor is that both pitchers are under contract through at least 2015, so even if the veteran Phillies team can't get it together this year, there's always next year or the year after. The Phillies aim to win year after year, so while it's plausible to see them taking a step back in a year they are struggling to play .500 ball, it's much less so for a season that hasn't even been played.

"I never say never. But it's our job to win, and these are guys who are hard to replace,'' Amaro said by phone about Lee and Papelbon.