Deadline-Seller Phillies Hope to Become Spoilers
Philadelphia has grown accustomed to annual postseason play. With that out of the question in 2012, fans have to find something else to look forward to.
It seemed automatic.
For the past half-dozen years, the Philadelphia Phillies were playoff-bound and General Manager Ruben Amaro was adding those important pieces to the puzzle at the trading deadline.
But Tuesday, Amaro became a seller instead of a buyer, shipping Shane Victorino back to the Los Angeles Dodgers and then flipping outfielder Hunter Pence to the San Francisco Giants.
Amaro probably also tried to unload pitcher Cliff Lee and outfielder Juan Pierre, but his asking price was too high.
Joe Blanton cleared waivers Friday and is en route to the Dodgers, where he will rejoin the Flyin' Hawaiian. Previously Baltimore had been in the mix for the righty, but the Phillies were unwilling to eat as much of his salary as the O's wanted.
And Amaro isn't necessarily done dealing. If he can get some more players through waivers in the next month, the team will really begin its retooling process.
Like last year's Philadelphia Eagles, the magic just wasn't there for the Phils in 2012.
Blame it on poor play, possibly some bad decisions by manager Charlie Manuel, a longer-than-expected recovery for the injured Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and the wearing down of pitchers Roy Halladay and Lee.
So although fans may have (rightly) thrown in the towel, don't think the Phillies are done competing. Amaro has said that the team would still mix it up, and that should be obvious with the huge contract he gave Cole Hamels.
There's now two months left in the season for the GM to evaluate talent and to determine who should stay for 2013. It's clear he's giving prospect Domonic Brown some time to shine (and it's about time the team did so).
If anything, Amaro replenished the depleted Phillies farm system in his moves, something he had bankrupted in the many deals of the past few seasons.
You can't win in baseball every year. That the Phils have enjoyed a long run of consecutive division titles, two World Series appearances, and one ring in the past half-decade should have us all smiling after many long-suffering years.
So let's pretend 2012 didn't happen, like that dream where Bobby Ewing didn't really die on Dallas and the whole TV season was a wash.
Let's do that here, because the current roster is too talented for such losing ways to define it.
Going into spring training with a nucleus of Howard, Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, Lee, Halladay and Jonathan Papelbon can't be all bad, right? Get a solid third baseman and centerfielder, fix the bullpen and this team has as good a shot as any other in 2013.
The Phillies aren't dead forever; just this year. Suck it up and enjoy two months of no-pressure baseball, and maybe we'll surprise some teams in our new role as spoilers.