Can the Phillies Save Themselves?
There is a lot of chatter and trade rumors creeping around the Phillies right now. Who will stay and who will go? And, do they even have any real choices here?
One of the predominant theories says that if the Phillies make a strong run in the 2nd half, they may be able to keep guys like Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino. But to do so would mean winning a LOT of games.
Last night’s win over the Dodgers gave the Phillies a 3-game winning streak. That is nice, but not exactly a season-saving run just yet. Yet there were reasons to hope; Joe Blanton pitched extremely well, allowing just 2 runs in 8 innings, keeping the unreliable bullpen at bay. Ryan Howard hit his first home run of the year. And Victorino had 3 hits in the game.
But even if this short streak of better baseball continues, is it enough to keep the team together beyond the trade deadline?
Sadly, I believe the answer is no.
The Phillies bullpen needs serious help and a guy like Victorino is exactly what many teams will want in exchange for a solid pitcher or two. Even a player like Juan Pierre could help out a team ready to make a run at the playoffs. With Domonic Brown healthy again in Triple-A, the possibility of trading an outfielder greatly increases. Plus, both Pierre and Victorino have contracts that expire after this season.
And then there is the sad tale of Cole Hamels. The Phillies failed to get a long-term contract done last year, leaving Hamels close enough to free-agency for him to get a really big whiff of the huge piles of money waiting for him. If they cannot come to terms, Hamels will be traded before the deadline.
The Phillies really have little choice. If they know that Hamels will test free agency, the odds of retaining him are slim to none. Other teams who are not on the brink of the luxury tax and whose teams did not suck this year will be gunning for Hamels. And if you are going to lose him, you might as well get something for him in exchange.
I am not happy about this and I am sure many of you feel the same way. But the cold, hard truth is that a very large, steaming pile of poo is about to hit the fan. I hope I am wrong, but brace yourselves, just in case I am not.
The good news is that Roy Halladay returns to the mound tonight! In his first start off the DL, Halladay will face the Dodgers at 10:10pm.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography