We are roughly one and a half months away from one of the most exciting times during the baseball season. That is the trade deadline. During "trade deadline season" (as many like to call it), rumors are shared on whether teams are buying to go into the playoffs, whether teams are selling to rebuild for the future, or just standing pat with their current roster.
The Philadelphia Phillies have had a tough season. Actually, it's been a tough three seasons. For many fans, their 102-60 record in 2011 feels like an eternity, when they boasted the likes of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt in their rotation. It feels like an eternity since Ryan Howard was hitting over .250 and hitting 40 homers a year, and it feels like an eternity since Jayson Werth was playing right field and being Howard's protector.
There's no other way to put it: it's finally time for the Phillies to sell every good player they have on their roster. The baseball world now understands that it is not the leadership in the clubhouse (with the change of managers from Charlie Manuel to Ryne Sandberg) or anything else many people like to blame for the Phillies struggles. The issue is truly the players they are putting out onto the field.
Chase Utley, Marlon Byrd, A.J. Burnett, Jimmy Rollins and even Carlos Ruiz would be fantastic additions to a young, talented roster and perhaps take them deep into the postseason. But as a team? These players cannot produce; they need the production from others to add on to. That is why the Phillies are struggling. Yes they have stars, but no they do not have the firepower to take them into the playoffs.
If the Phillies had even a decent farm system, my opinion might be somewhat shifted. Arguably their best prospect, shortstop J.P. Crawford, is still down in full season Single-A. Their other "savior," Maikel Franco, has a .612 OPS in Triple-A, one season following his .926 mark with 31 home runs. And Jesse Biddle, the Phillies first round pick in 2010? He has not seen action above Double-A, where he has a 3.78 ERA in 207 innings pitched there.
The prospects they receive might not be top notch, but as long as they have a future, this deadline could pay huge dividends for the team. With the money and market size the Phillies have, they'll be back in the postseason in not too long, as long as they don't give out one-year, $16 million contracts to aging starting pitchers.
Many complain about the job Ruben Amaro Jr. has done as general manager, but his first real test will come this trade deadline, when he is faced with the situation to either sell his players now, or stand pat and almost have to pray for a postseason appearance. The choice does not seem to hard.
The players on the Phillies are like cars. They have milage on them, but their value will continue to go down the longer the team holds them. It's time to pull the trigger, Ruben Amaro Jr., and sell your team for the future. It could be the one decision that gets the Phillies back to the postseason sooner, rather than later, and perhaps save your job. It's the only logical answer for the mess that is going on in Philadelphia.