For all you Phillies fans out there who are torn over whether the team should buy or sell at the trade deadline, there’s some good news. The front office appears to be as conflicted as you.
On the one hand, the Phillies have the fourth-worst run differential in the National League, have played .500 baseball for a full year and a half now, has lost Ryan Howard, Ben Revere and Roy Halladay to injury, and have a bullpen that is a complete and total disaster.
On the other hand, the Phillies are at .500 despite all that, have won their last four series, went 7-3 in their most recent, crucial homestand, and enter tonight’s All-Star Game just 6 1/2 games behind Atlanta in the NL East and 5 1/2 games back in the wild card.
Certainly, Ruben Amaro is not going to throw in the towel on a season in July if the team is just 5 1/2 games out of a playoff spot, no matter what the roster looks like.
However, the Phils have a bunch of hot sale items that, if they decided to trade, could net the team some sorely needed prospects and help the team build for the future.
The choice between competing for a playoff spot or re-tooling for 2014 is a tough one, one that many go back and forth on.
These are all considerations being weighed by Amaro, team president David Montgomery and Chairman of the Phillies Bill Giles, who said on Monday that this is the toughest July he’s ever seen in terms of making decisions on whether to buy or sell.
“I used to be very involved in making decisions and working with the general manager and this is the most difficult last two weeks in July I have ever seen,” Giles, now 78 years old, told the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb. “I haven’t talked to Ruben (Amaro Jr.) lately. He has some tough decisions what to do with all the guys.”
There was one player Giles was hoping won’t be going anywhere.
“I am rooting for Chase to be with us, I will tell you that,” Giles said. “He is a quality person and has done so much for this organization. You have to give him some points for nostalgia and fan enjoyment. I have always been a big guy in trying to get players who are fun to watch like John Kruk was, and the sex appeal of Utley and [Ryan] Howard and these guys. I am just hoping we get better in the second half.”
“It will be an interesting two weeks.”
Apparently, even Bill Giles thinks Chase Utley is sexy. Utley’s sex appeal knows no cultural bounds.
You’ve probably read me urge the Phillies to sell. By that, I mean that the Phils should be listening and receiving offers from other teams about anyone and everyone on their roster and, in the case of players like Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cliff Lee, trade them if they’re given a really great deal.
It would have to be a deal that helps make the team competitive, if not in 2014, then in ’15 for sure.
As for buying, if the team can add pieces to the bullpen and another outfielder without giving away any of their top prospects, then they should go for it. But it seems hard to see how that could happen.
However, let it be known that none of these decisions (except trading Michael Young) are easy. As the Phils balance a new TV deal on the horizon and the need to be competitive on a yearly basis with replenishing some aging players who may not be with the team again next year, these decisions affecting the future will have to be made in just the next two weeks, with the team straddling the line between contender and also-ran.
And I don’t know if it’s comforting to know that Phils’ brass isn’t sure what to do, or if it’s alarming.