Bad Baseball Brings Sell-Off Closer

I've been a 17 game season ticket holder for the Phillies since 1991, so I've seen plenty of bad baseball. There were the Fregosi years that weren't 1993, the Francona years, and even parts of the Bowa years, where you wanted to hit your head off the wall after watching the team. Fregosi did give us 1993, and Bowa gave us some pennant races, but then Charlie Manuel's era in Philly was just pure pleasure. Five divisions, two NL Pennants, and of course, a World Championship parade highlighted Charlie's time, all of which you know, but all of which I have to tell myself on this Monday morning.

This weekend just repeated for me the obvious thing I've been coming to grips with for over a month now, that we will trade away players at this deadline, probably part ways with Charlie after the season, and hopefully consider parting ways with Ruben too. The reality is that this team is really not good. The rotation is very good, but not carry a team to 100 wins good like in 2011, the bullpen is really bad after Papelbon, and the line-up and position players in general are putrid, for the most part. Basically, of the 25 guys, Dom Brown, Papelbon, Cliff Lee, and Kyle Kendrick are shouldering the load, while Cloyd and Pettibone are holding their own. Other than that, you have some mediocre players, and some real bad ones too. We're now looking at a team where four guys will chase individual milestones this year, and the rest of the team is pretty useless.

At 31-33, it's time to consider breaking the team up. Delmon Young and Michael Young are two places to start, though it's unfair to single them out. Both of them were Ruben's attempt to stick a band-aid on last year and have things be better. Neither has been particularly worse than the rest of the team, but neither has been all that great either. I would move them mostly to free up space for younger players to play. I'd give Delmon away to an AL team that will take him, even if just for cash, and be done with it. I would not let Mayberry play right, but if they did, at least Revere would be getting more at-bats, rather than sharing them with a role player. That would give us a look at his abilities. I'd probably try Ruf in left (and Dom therefore in right), even though at this point I'm not sure Ruf can hack it up here, but I'd try it anyway just to see. I'd move Michael Young to free up playing time for Freddy Galvis and Cody Asche to get some looks this year. Let's see what we have.

After I've broken up those two, next on my chopping block are players much more near-and-dear to the hearts of fans: Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz. I'll always hold a soft spot in my heart for the 2008 group, but it's over. Both are busted up more and more often, into their mid-30s, and blocking out younger guys. in Utley's case, he's not just a free agent with bad knees/back/wrists over the last three years, but at the same position that could be occupied by either Galvis or Cesar Hernandez. Again, let's see them. Ruiz is a catcher, which is damning enough at his age, and so I would not even entertain re-signing him after this season. That's even more true because of the depth of talent in the organization at catcher. You might need a one year stop-gap for next year, but your long-term is good here, and if you can move him now and receive even salary relief, maybe you can get a look at one or two of your prospects.

None of those players will get you much value for what you trade though. If you want something back for what you part ways with, you will take a look at dealing Jimmy Rollins and Jonathan Papelbon. Both are in contracts you'd like to be rid of, but contracts that someone may conceivably eat some of to get the players yet. Jimmy remains a very good defensive shortstop, and amazingly somehow above average offensively. With just one year and an option left, someone will probably take interest. Papelbon is having the best season of a closer in the NL this year, and someone might even be willing to eat most of his two remaining years. Because these two players are still reasonably good too, you may even get some younger players worth looking at. It's a win-win. I'd put out some role players like Mayberry too, if there's any kind of return. Hey, why not?

There are some guys I would literally put on waivers too, but doubt anyone will take, guys like Ryan Howard. I can't impress on you enough how much of this team's lack of success sadly falls on "the Big Piece." Until this year, I always defended him. It's hard to now, and if they put him on August waivers and someone takes him, I'd say goodbye. Same could be said for Mike Adams. The downside to this is obvious though: no one is going to take them. In other words, you're stuck with them.

I'd really only hold onto players in their 20s, such as Dom, Cole, Freddy, and Cesar. I'd hold onto Cliff Lee too, simply because I think that will a.) speed up a return to contention, and b.) you'd never get the right trade, where a team both takes his whole deal and gives you a big time package of prospects. Teams would expect us to pay him to pitch there, which is kind of silly with just two years left on his deal. Keeping him and Cole gives us a starting point to contend again. Teams with our resources don't go into long-term rebuilding.

Basically though, the end is here. I know we like to look at these players and see the 2009 versions, but that's gone. That team wouldn't lose 3 of 4 to these Brewers. This is a slightly below .500 group, maybe slightly above, that is not playoff bound. To bleed out 85 wins just delays the needed looks at younger players, and clearing of salary that blocks us from bringing in better players. This is not a playoff team, and that's becoming obvious now, even to optimists.

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