Jul 11, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcherKyle Kendrick
(38) delivers to the plate during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
It can be argued that the Phillies’ improved play of late is actually hurting them.
It can be argued that it is in the best interests of the team to trade the veteran players of value to potential playoff teams with needs and receive some quality prospects in return.
It can be argued that the Phillies could be missing a golden opportunity to load up on talented baseball players and run the risk of getting absolutely nothing at the end of the season if they don’t do something now.
That argument is moot, however, as long as the Phillies keep winning baseball games.
Last night, the Phils won their four-game series against the Nationals, beating Washington 3-1. Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick outdueled Nats ace Jordan Zimmerman by throwing seven innings of five-hit, one-run ball for his eighth win of the season. He lowered his ERA to 3.75.
Zimmerman only gave up two runs in 6 1/3 innings, however that was enough to hand Washington their third loss in four games to the Phils at Citizens Bank Park.
Kevin Frandsen came off the bench, as he has done so often this year, and delivered a go-ahead RBI double in the seventh that broke a 1-1 tie. It was Frandsen’s 11th pinch hit of the year, which leads the league, scoring Darin Ruf, who led off the inning with a double off Zimmerman.
It was an odd game for the Phils, who committed four errors, three of them shockingly by Chase Utley, who is unquestionably one of the best defensive second basemen in the game.
It was a weird night.
The win was the Phils’ seventh in their last 10 games and moved them back to within a game of .500 at 46-47. Atlanta also won on Thursday, so the Phils remain 7 1/2 games back in the NL East. However, they’re now just 1 1/2 games behind Washington for second, and trail the wild card by 5 1/2 games, trailing Cincinnati, Los Angeles and the Nationals.
So, what does this all mean? Is this all a mirage and unsustainable, or are the Phillies getting better?
We’ll learn something this weekend, when the Phils play three games against one of the worst teams in the American League, the Chicago White Sox. Only the Houston Astros have a worse record than Chicago’s 36-53. This is a team the Phillies should sweep.
Before last night’s game, Amaro once again scared the crap out of everyone who believes the front office should ignore this recent string of improved play and trade the veteran players that could be so coveted by other Major League teams.
"“If tomorrow was July 31, we’d be buying,” Amaro said. “We’re 6½ out of the wild card. No one is running away with it. No one is invincible.”"
Amaro also said this year is a lot different than last year.
"“I considered us less of a contender last year,” Amaro said. “We’re in a better spot this year.” – quotes per CSN Philly"
And that is true. Through 93 games last year, the Phillies were 41-52, 14 games out of first place in the NL East. The Phils are in a much better position to add pieces this year than last year, when they traded outfielders Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence.
Of course, up until this recent 10 game stretch, in which the Phils have taken series from Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Washington, who have a combined record of 154-120 and a .562 winning percentage, the Phillies played a string of also-rans and middle-of-the-road teams, and struggled.
Before their series against the Pirates, the Phillies played Milwaukee, Miami, Minnesota, Colorado, Washington, New York, San Diego and Los Angeles, who have a combined .447 winning percentage. Only the Dodgers and Nationals currently have a winning record among those teams, and are a combined three games over .500. Against that collection of Gomers, the Phillies went 13-16.
The point is, as good as the Phils looked against the Pirates, Braves and Nationals, they are equally as capable of losing two of three to the White Sox this weekend.
Of course, the Phillies don’t need to make any firm decisions for another couple weeks, and Amaro’s phone will undoubtedly continue to ring off the proverbial hook.
"“Tons of calls,” Amaro said. “It’s all I do is take calls. Things are very active. It’s that time of year, man. Nothing different than any other July.”"
If the Phils do become buyers, Amaro said the primary target would be the ‘pen, although exactly what he would trade in order to acquire bullpen help is a mystery.
"“I don’t really want to move young talent,” Amaro said. “If we have to [make a trade] we’ll figure something out. With the way our club is and with our age — it’s a young man’s game. We want to try to keep as many young guys as we can.”"
Might Michael Young or Carlos Ruiz be flipped for a bullpen arm? Erik Kratz is finishing a rehab assignment, which could make Chooch expendable. And the Phils would almost certainly move Young for the right bullpen piece (and NO that is NOT Joba Chamberlain). Frandsen has done nothing but hit since joining the team last year and would be a more than reasonable replacement for Young at third, should the Phillies trade him.
Thankfully, the Phils don’t have to do anything yet. They’re still in wait-or-see mode.
But, in light of last night’s series-clinching win against the Nationals, the Phillies certainly are closer to being “buyers” than they are “sellers.”