May 17, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee (33) celebrates with manager Charlie Manuel (41) after defeating the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Reds 5-3. Mandatory Credit...
May 17, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee (33) celebrates with manager Charlie Manuel (41) after defeating the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies defeated the Reds 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
The Phillies are giving me bipolar disorder.
One day I think they’ve got a shot at competing in the National League East, given how they’re still just 5 1/2 games behind Atlanta and only one game behind Washington, are 14-10 in their last 24 games, and one game under .500, at 23-24. They’re still in the conversation in the NL East.
The next day I think they have no chance, as evidenced by the parade of former All-Stars either already on the disabled list – Roy Halladay, John Lannan, Carlos Ruiz, Mike Adams, and Chase Utley – or guys who are currently hurt, namely Ryan Howard, with a run differential that indicates their record should be much worse than it is (-31, 4th worst in the NL), and an offense that clearly has had its problems.
If you look at it analytically, the Phils are still in the hunt. But if you use your eyes, this team does not have a prayer at winning the World Series this year.
I’m a confused and scared mess right now, guys.
And I’m not alone. The baseball community is a bit mixed up as to what the Phillies should do in the next couple months. Some, like ESPN’s Dave Schoenfield, think the Phils will be buyers. Others, like CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, Sports Illustrated’s Jay Jaffe and Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, think the Phillies will be sellers.
“My guess is this is not a contender,” Rosenthal said in his online video blog. “And if the Phillies are not a contender, then they have to do for the second straight season something that they don’t really want to do, and that’s deconstruct. Cliff Lee, Michael Young, you can go right down the line, Jonathan Papelbon. I can name virtually any Phillie and at least the Phillies could entertain the idea of maybe getting rid of some of these guys.
“Now, you’re not going to get a ton of talent for Cliff Lee when he has so much money left on his contract, but you could pick up a number of those dollars and perhaps make it work that way. Clearing the money alone would be useful to the Phillies for the future, getting young talent would be even better.”
There’s no doubt the Phils are going to be the most interesting team to watch as the trade deadline approaches. And if you listen to Ruben Amaro, it sounds like a decision on whether to double down on 2013 or punt for the future, could be coming sooner rather than later.
“We still have good players,” Amaro told MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. “We just haven’t put it all together yet for whatever reason. They haven’t gotten going offensively in particular. We still think that they can, but they haven’t. The real question is: How long can you wait? Right now, we’re willing to wait, because no one is crazy and running away with it. We’re willing to wait, and how long we’ll wait is a decision I’ll have to make. Right now, I view us as buyers.”
Within that statement is the key question.
How long can you wait?
When it comes to their most tradeable stars, the Phillies are going to have to wait. Utley and Ruiz are both on the DL, so no one is going to touch either of those guys with a 10-foot pole until they come back and prove they’re healthy and productive. Roy Halladay would have been a commodity for some, but his broken shoulder rendered that moot.
And while Michael Young and Delmon Young are both free agents after the year and would likely be on the block should the Phils sell, neither player costs very much and would bring back much in terms of talent, so there is no urgency to trade either of them in the next week or two.
Of course, there is the walking trade rumor Cliff Lee, who