Should the Phillies Have a Fire Sale?
We've gotten used to the Phightins' first-place contention in recent years, but as they sit dead last in the NL East at the All-Star break, is there any hope for a second-half rally?
If you're Ruben Amaro, July is a great month.
Usually, the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies is sitting pretty, his team in first place and the time nearing when Amaro gets to play "Let's Make A Deal" to bolster the roster for the annual playoff run.
This season, though, Amaro should be humming The Clash song, "Should (They) Stay or Should (They) Go."
The Phils are in dead last in the NL East. And with the trading deadline coming up at the end of the month, Amaro needs to determine if the Phillies are buyers or sellers this year.
He needs to decide if this team's deep playoff run of the past few years, which has led to a World Series victory, a few pennants and numerous NL East titles, is over.
Amaro needs to decide whether it's time to rebuild this team or retool it for the future.
First off, the Phils have a great nucleus that will make them competitive for years to come: You've got Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay and Jonathan Papelbon.
With Utley back in the lineup and Howard and Halladay returning shortly from injury, will the Phils have enough firepower to get them over the hump and maybe grab a Wild Card berth?
We'll see. If Amaro deals ace Cole Hamels, who is a free agent at the end of the year, then you know what direction the Phillies are heading in.
With all the money already devoted to Halladay and Cliff Lee, signing Hamels would basically tie up $80 million each year just in three pitchers.
We've seen how great the pitching can be. But when you get no run support, than your record resembles that of Lee, who just won his first game of the year the other day.
Is it time to try to unload Lee, or Shane Victorino, who is also a free agent at the end of the year? If someone can make great offers for Placido Polanco and Hunter Pence, why not shed some payroll? Ty Wigginton would be a great addition for someone's bench (as the Phillies themselves thought last post-season).
Should chalk up this season to what it is—a bad year? You can't win every year. And maybe this Phillies season is a bump in the road, like last year's Eagles.
Either way, Amaro has some major decisions to make. If Hamels is a goner, then the season is over. But with a healthy Utley and Howard and Halladay on the mend, maybe there's still a little hope left.
The second season resumes right after the All-Star break. Should be an interesting one for the Phillies.