The Phillies at the Mid-Point… and Forward

Just admit it- you got it totally wrong. We all did. The blowhards on ESPN did. The national writers did. Everybody did. Sure, this team looked sluggish from the day they got to Clearwater, sure they had major injuries strike before opening day (in fact, before the final out of 2011 was recorded), sure they were a year older. No one though, not anyone serious, thought the Phillies would be here- 37-50, done in the NL East race, on the verge of selling off their squad. Anyone who claims they did, they are a liar.

Here we are though, one of the worst teams in baseball. If you're handing out a grade so far, you can't say much more than "F" for the season, unless you have a lower grade to hand out. The starting staff, while unfortunately hurt, can't get much higher than a "D." The line-up's numbers aren't as awful as you think, but they're a "D" too, due to inconsistency and lack of timely hitting. The bench has stunk, though it was raided for starters most of the year, but it gets an "F." The bullpen? "F-" from me. I won't fail Charlie as a manager, because he was given a defective product, but his performance hasn't been good, and he's lost this team some games with bad decisions, so he's a "D-." Basically the whole thing's a failure, and it's a big "Fail" from me.

So I'm saying it's time to accept a different role at this time of year than the starring one we've had five straight years. We're not going to win the division, the playoffs are a crazy pipe dream, and we'll be really lucky to finish anywhere near .500, even if we don't sell. So, sell, sell, sell, it is. It's time for this team to sell off it's parts, re-coup a lot of young pieces, and try look towards winning a championship in 2013. Yes, no re-building period, win immediately.

As for what you're selling, here's how I break down the parts to move:

  • The Tough Calls/A List- Cole Hamels and Hunter Pence- It's a tough call on what to do with Hamels, though my sense is that a big return is possible from Texas particularly. If he will sign a deal, the Phillies should sign him, hands down. If he definitely won't, move him. If you're unsure? I guess it's a gut call on whether or not you think he will sign eventually, and whether or not trading him means he's gone for good. As for Pence, there is no imperative to trade him, let alone right away, however there is upside. While Hunter is good, he's not MVP good, and he projects to make $15 million next season on arbitration, if not more in a long-term deal. That's a lot for a "very good" player. He could fetch possibly four, maybe even five guys, in a deal for him, as he's controllable for another year, and therefore eligible to recoup draft choices if he left his new team. If the offers are good, I'd certainly listen on him. There's very little chance I'd trade them both, though you should never say never.
  • The Victorino List- Shane's getting a really bad rap right now, from me included. I think it's worth remembering how big he was for the championship team. With that said, you don't make decisions based on the past, you make them on the future. Shane wants, and probably deserves to get paid well on his next deal. If I thought he would sign during the season for three seasons at $10 million a piece, I'd say do it. That's movable, and not that bad to begin with. There's no chance of that. I say you trade Shane for the best package available, looking to grab at least one very good prospect, and two other guys with at least a chance to make your club in the next few seasons. I expect the Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, and Pirates to all call about him. I think off the top of my head I like the Yankees and Pirates farm systems best of the group, but I haven't done the research- yet.
  • The available for a price/C List- These are some pretty solid veterans that will help a contender, and could make the difference. Think of our moves for Stairs, Blanton, and Moyer in years past, all of which paid off huge in helping this team win. Here we're offering out some known veterans- Juan Pierre, Ty Wigginton, Mike Fontenot, Brian Schneider- who can help your team win now. Pierre is apparently on a similar list to Victorino, with Cincinnati really after him. The others don't have a list- yet. I think the return depends on the team calling, but you'd like to get at least one guy who's going to be on your team for any of them, with either a second body or third guy with a chance, or cash. In essence, think of what you got for Thome, which is sounding pretty good- and look for that in return here.
  • Want Them? Pay Them/D List- This list could change a lot, because these are not worthless players. Think Polanco and Blanton here, two guys who I can absolutely see helping someone in October. They make a lot though, and the Phillies primary focus is probably going to be moving them off the books for this season if they move them. You look for salary help and a body with hope in return for these guys.
That leaves a lot of guys out- the bullpen (because it's all either expensive, young, or worthless), 4/5 of the infield (either because of injury, contract, or being our best guy), and most of the rotation. I'm not saying you DON'T move any of these guys either, I'm just saying I don't see the point right now. The goals here are to stockpile prospects, move money, and prepare for next year.
Yes, prepare. It's time for Dom Brown once you make these moves. It's time to try out a Cody Overbeck on your bench. It's time to let the Diekmans and Schwimers be the main set-up men some nights. Try Tyler Cloyd on the mound. Get a sense of what you have, and what you see for the future. That is what I'm looking for in the second half. We're ten out of the playoffs, busted up, and showing no fire. I really don't care if they go 81-81, if we're not going to the playoffs, record means nothing. I want to figure this out quickly, and get back to winning the division. That is the priority for this summer.
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