|Phillies’ struggles may lead to firesale||| Print |||Send|
Written by Jim Mancari (Contact & Archive) on July 14, 2012
However, taking a closer look at the trade shows that the Phillies are in a position that they haven’t been in for the past six years: a rebuilding phase. The Qualls deal may just be the start to what could be a fire sale in Philadelphia.
Photo by Steve Wood, used under creative commons license.
Even without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley for the start of the season, the Phillies were expected to be the favorites in the NL East. The team’s starting pitching staff was arguably the best in baseball, and it was supposed to carry the Phillies until Utley and Howard returned.
Well, the two perennial All-Stars are now back, but the Phillies found themselves in last place in the division at the All-Star break.
Between ace Roy Halladay spending significant time on the disabled list and Cliff Lee not recording his first win until last week, the starting pitching hasn’t exactly carried the team as expected. As a result, the Phillies have not been able to get into the groove that they’ve enjoyed the past few seasons.
While it’s still a bit early to fully count the Phillies out of any potential playoff race, the team may decide to salvage this season by acquiring some younger players in exchange for soon-to-be free agents.
The biggest name that could be available is All-Star starting pitcher Cole Hamels. He’s set to hit the open market this offseason and will likely command a multi-year contract worth well over $100 million. Since the Phillies already have Halladay and Lee on the payroll, locking up Hamels to that sort of contract may not be an option.
If that were the case, Hamels would certainly net the Phillies a talented group of prospects from a team looking for starting pitching. Hamels may only be a two-month rental player, but he’d most likely cost a team one of its top prospects.
In addition to Hamels, the Phillies should receive tons of phone calls about center fielder Shane Victorino. The former All-Star is having a tough year at plate (.245 batting average, .311 on-base percentage), but a change of scenery may ignite a spark under him.
Victorino has said that he’d like to remain in Philadelphia and hopes he and the team can work out a long-term deal in the offseason. But with super prospect Domonic Brown waiting in the wings, Victorino may become expendable in the right trade. He would likely not cost as much in a trade as Hamels but would still net at least a good prospect.
The Phillies may also try to unload Ty Wigginton and Juan Pierre. Wigginton can be a right-handed option off the bench for a contender, while Pierre’s speed would be coveted by any team.
Maybe the Phillies will try to put together a run right after the All-Star break before exploring the trade market. Winning a few series, especially against division rivals, may bring Philadelphia right back into the race.
Halladay is expected to return in late July, in which case the Phillies would have all their personnel healthy. However, if the struggles continue, several of those players may be shipped out of town.
The Phillies front office may have some tough decisions to make, especially if Utley and Howard lead a revival. But if things don’t change, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will be busy on the phones the next few weeks.