Phillies: Time To Make It Or Break It
It seems that each time the Philadelphia Phillies get on a roll and sniff a .500 record, a losing streak follows and they’re right back to 5 or 6 games under the mark. Last night was no different, as the Phillies had a chance to reach that elusive level of mediocrity but failed despite having team ace Cliff Lee on the hill. Now sitting at 45-47, two games under .500, 7½ games out of the division leading Atlanta Braves and 6½ out of the wild card spot, it’s time for the team to truly evaluate where they stand and develop their strategy leading up to the trade deadline.
Should the Philadelphia Phillies not win at least 3 of the next 4 remaining games prior to the All-Star break, I believe the team must realize that they are not going to be able to make a push for the playoffs and should immediately begin selling off their desirable pieces in order to rebuild for the future. Daily Sports New Columnist Rich Hoffman currently puts the team’s odds at 20-1 to reach the 2013 postseason!
So, the next question I’d expect to receive is “With the trade deadline not coming until July 31, why so quick to pull the plug on the 2013 season?” Well, in my proposed fire sale, the likes of Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, and Michael Young all must go! There is no reason to trade just a few, it’s either go for broke or begin the rebuilding process. And, with the sheer number of pieces we’d have to trade, Ruben Amaro Jr. would have to get started well before the deadline to accomplish that goal.
So, what could the Phillies reasonably expect to get in return for the aforementioned players? One of the most discussed trade scenarios for the Phillies involves the Boston Red Sox, who are believed to be interested in acquiring both Jonathan Papelbon and Michel Young. Boston would be an ideal trade partner, since they have numerous pieces that could help the team’s youth movement almost immediately. 20 year old shortstop Xander Bogaerts should be the starting point. Bogaerts is widely considered one of the top 10 prospects in all of Major League Baseball. He has the tools to hit both for power and average and is commonly revered for his elite bat speed. Another prospect the Phillies could target is 22 year old 3B Garin Cecchini. Cecchini is viewed as a legitimate five tool player and with his performance thus far in 2013 is now considered among the top 3B prospects in the game.
The New York Yankees have reportedly shown interest in acquiring Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley. Ruiz would fill a desperate need at catcher while Utley would shift to first after the season ending injury to Mark Teixeira. Pieces that may be of interest to the Phillies would include 20 year old catcher Gary Sanchez, a plus power hitter who led all minor league catchers in home-runs in 2012 with 17 and has greatly improved his defensive play of late. Another option would be 21 year old outfielder Tyler Austin, a converted third baseman.
Cliff Lee is the prize trade piece for the Phillies and would definitely fetch the biggest haul. Any team competing for a World Series can always use another Ace level starting pitcher. There has not been a lot of trade talks revolving around Jimmy Rollins. His offensive game has been sub-par in 2013 but his defense has been stellar as always. If a competing team were in need of a shortstop, Rollins would likely be able to fetch, at the very least, a few mid level prospects.
by Michael J. DeLuca