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Last season was an obvious fluke for the Philadelphia Phillies. Injuries to star players decimated the team that had won five straight NL East divisional titles. So this year would be different right, especially with the team’s starting pitching?

Not exactly.

Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard, Kevin Frandsen
Photo by Matthew Straubmuller, used under creative commons license.
As the trade deadline passed, the Phillies found themselves in third place in the NL East, seven games under .500 and 12 1/2 games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves. They’re also nine games behind in the wild card race.

It seemed like the Phillies were poised for a firesale. Chase Utley is a free agent at the end of the season, and his name was mentioned in trade rumors. Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon and Michael Young also were potential trade targets.

But instead of dismantling the entire operation, the Phillies decided to stand pat and will attempt to retool for next year, rather than rebuild by acquiring prospects.

Despite his injuries, Utley will likely be back in Philadelphia. Young doesn’t exactly factor into the team’s future, and in fact, he could be a waiver-wire trade candidate sometime in August. Papelbon still has two years left on his contract, and the asking price for him was likely very high.

Lee, though, was an interesting case. The Phillies seemed willing to move Lee but only if a team was willing to take on his huge contract. The Baltimore Orioles could have been an optimal destination for Lee, since the O’s desperately need an ace pitcher in order to make a postseason run.

Not only did the Phillies want a team’s top few prospects, but any acquiring team would also have to take on $25 million per year for Lee. The Orioles were not interested in that sort of commitment and instead dealt for Bud Norris of the Houston Astros.

Looking back at the deadline, did the Phillies make the right choice? Should they have looked to rebuild rather than retool?

Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Jimmy Rollins are not getting any younger. They’ve had trouble regaining their past form this year, so what’s to say they will magically transform back into All-Stars next year?

Domonic Brown has finally proven he can be a productive Major Leaguer, but that seems to be the only bright spot of this team all season.

The Phillies are not afraid to spend money, but if they choose not to move on from the veterans -- which seems to be the plan -- there will be no room for new additions.

Deals may still take shape over the next month, but expect the 2014 Phillies to be very similar to the 2013 Phillies, which were very similar to the 2012 Phillies.

The 2012 Phillies were a disappointment, the 2013 Phillies have been a disappointment, and if things don’t change, the 2014 Phillies could be heading down the same path.