Is this it for the Phillies?
The Phillies recently spent $42 million on Carlos Ruiz and Marlon Byrd, and barring a big move from general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. those signings could be the end of their offensive upgrades for 2014. Every position is set, unless Amaro trades somebody like Domonic Brown or Ben Revere or some starting pitching to add a bat. It seems clear the front office is entering next season the same way it entered this past season: hoping a healthier roster is enough to return them to the postseason. The Phillies thought a healthier Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in 2013 would provide a big boost. The theory had some merit. The Phillies were 45-57 on July 29, 2012, before they traded Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. They finished 36-24 for the fifth-best record in the National League. They thought they had momentum. They thought they saw signs of the former five-time NL East champions.
But that hope is a harder sell following a 73-89 finish in 2013, the organization’s worst since they lost 97 games in 2000. The Phillies scored the fourth-fewest runs in baseball lats season.
Not only do the Phillies need Howard and Ben Revere healthy and productive, they need bounce back seasons from Ruiz (he had his worst season since 2008) and Jimmy Rollins (he had the worst season of his career), Byrd to prove a career-year at 35 wasn’t a fluke, Brown to prove he can replicate his breakout season and Utley to prove he can stay healthy two years in a row.
It seems like a lot of things need to break perfectly for the Phillies to score more runs next year.
Here is a look at a potential Opening Day lineup:
- Revere, CF
- Rollins, SS
- Utley, 2B
- Howard, 1B
- Byrd, RF
- Brown, LF
- Ruiz, C
- Cody Asche, 3B
- Todd Zolecki
The Phillies have spoiled fans with plenty of action at the trade deadline in recent years, one way or another.
Let’s look back, shall we?
- 2006: Traded Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, Rheal Cormier, David Bell and Sal Fasano and DFA’d Ryan Franklin in a fire sale.
- 2007: Acquired Kyle Lohse and Tadahito Iguchi.
- 2008: Acquired Joe Blanton.
- 2009: Acquired Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco and signed Pedro Martinez.
- 2010: Acquired Roy Oswalt.
- 2011: Acquired Hunter Pence.
- 2012: Traded Shane Victorino and Pence.
This might be the quietest deadline since 2005, when the Phillies got Ugueth Urbina in June. I say that because last night the Red Sox acquired Jake Peavy from the White Sox, which means Lee isn’t going to Boston or anywhere else. So I believe at this point it’s Michael Young or nobody. The Phillies are not going to trade Lee just to trade him. Why do that? They don’t need to shed payroll, and they’ve already been burned once on a Lee deal. Teams aren’t beating down doors for Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz or Delmon Young either, so they probably aren’t going anywhere. Ruben Amaro Jr. has said Chase Utley isn’t leaving as they’ve discussed a contract extension, so that’s basically it. It’s Michael Young or nobody, unless something crazy happens in the next few hours.
- Todd Zolecki
The Phillies’ Triple-A third baseman Cody Asche is on his way to Citizens Bank Park, a strong indication Phillies third baseman Michael Young is headed elsewhere.
A source Tuesday confirmed a Yahoo! Sports report Asche, who is one of the organization’s top prospects, will join the team. The Phillies have been looking for ways to retool for next season, and Young always has been the most likely Phillies player to be traded before Wednesday’s 4 p.m. ET Trade Deadline.
Young has been linked most closely to the Red Sox and Orioles. The Rangers also have been mentioned although a source told MLB.com over the weekend a reunion with the Rangers is unlikely. But that becomes interesting because FOX Sports just reported Young, who has a full no-trade clause, has only approved a trade to Texas.
Young is in the final season of his contract and is unlikely to be resigned. He also has value for a postseason contender as a veteran corner infielder with postseason experience and previous experience as a DH.
Asche is hitting .295 with 24 doubles, four triples, 15 home runs, 68 RBIs and .837 OPS in 446 plate appearances this season with the IronPigs. He is hitting .323 with 10 homers, 34 RBIs and a .935 OPS in 222 plate appearances since the end of May.
The Phillies acquired Young in a trade with the Rangers in December for pitchers Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla. Young is hitting .277 with 18 doubles, three triples, seven homers, 32 RBIs and a .743 OPS in 398 plate appearances.
- Todd Zolecki
The speculation and rumors for the Phillies are at a full boil.
Depending on the time of day, Cliff Lee either is not going to be traded because the Phillies’ asking price is way too high — we’ve heard everything from three to four legitimate prospects to first, second and third born children — to there is a good chance he will be traded. Here’s what I know: the Phillies are willing to trade Lee. They are listening to offers for Lee. But they still plan to try to win next season and beyond — thus the $48 million to Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez and the expected contract extension with Chase Utley — so they’re not pressured to trade him. They’re also not the Marlins or Pirates or another small-market team so they don’t have to shed payroll. Lee’s contract isn’t an issue (although it is an issue for other teams), and for all of those reasons I would say the chances the Phillies trade Lee are less likely than trading him.
Now, please keep in mind these things can change by the hour, minute, text message or phone call. The Phillies thought they had no chance to acquire Hunter Pence before the 2011 trade deadline, but eventually got the deal done. The same could happen for Lee, but I think the Phillies aren’t as motivated to move Lee as they were to acquire Pence.
The most likely Phillies player to be traded is Michael Young for obvious reasons. He has value as a veteran corner infielder that can also DH and he isn’t expected back next season. But don’t expect much in return for a two-month rental.
The rest? Utley is not going to be traded. (See above.) Jonathan Papelbon‘s trade value isn’t terribly high at the moment because of his performance and contract. (His velocity has dipped and his five blown saves are tied for third in baseball). Carlos Ruiz could be moved, but don’t expect much in return. His .581 OPS would be the worst among big-league catchers, if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.
Trading Jimmy Rollins is moot. He said Sunday he would not waive his trade rights. I suppose the Phillies could move Delmon Young, but they would get less for him than they would get for Michael Young. CSNPhilly.com reported the only three players the Phillies will not trade are Utley, Cole Hamels and Domonic Brown. No surprises there. The Phillies expect Hamels to bounce back and a team starved for young talent would be crazy to trade Brown at this point.
- Todd Zolecki
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said today if the July 31 Trade Deadline were tomorrow they would be buyers.
But the situation remains fluid.
“No one is running away with it,” Amaro said of the National League East and Wild Card races. “No one is invincible.”
The Phillies last season stood at 37-50 at the All-Star break, 10 games behind the Wild Card leaders and 14 games behind the Nationals in the division. They entered Thursday’s series finale against the Nationals 45-47, 6 ½ games behind the Wild Card leaders and 7 ½ games behind the Braves in the division. The All-Star break begins following Sunday’s game against the White Sox.
“I actually considered us less of a contender last year than we are now,” Amaro said. “Weren’t we 10, 11 games under .500 last year?”
Fourteen at one point, actually.
“I think if we were 14 we’d be doing the same thing we did last year,” he said.
It’s Opening Day, and here’s your Phillies lineup:
- Shane Victorino, CF
- Placido Polanco, 3B
- Jimmy Rollins, SS
- Hunter Pence, RF
- Ty Wigginton, 1B
- John Mayberry Jr., LF
- Carlos Ruiz, C
- Freddy Galvis, 2B
- Roy Halladay, P
Here’s an interesting start to the morning in Dallas …
The Palm Beach Post’s Joe Capozzi reported the Phillies have serious interest in Aramis Ramirez. A source confirmed to MLB.com the Phillies are indeed interested.
Here’s what I’m guessing: it’s a backup plan if the Phillies can’t reach an agreement with Jimmy Rollins.
At some point the Phillies will have to make a decision on Rollins because I’m sure Ruben Amaro Jr. doesn’t want to wait forever. If Rollins takes a better deal elsewhere — it seems Milwaukee and St. Louis are his only other top options — or if the parties reach a stalemate, the Phillies could move forward on Ramirez.
Of course, I’m not sure what that would mean for Placido Polanco, but with Ty Wigginton in the fold I’m thinking he would have to be traded.
– Todd Zolecki