Posts Tagged ‘Phillies’

Below is Skood Sports’ take on the major sports stories of the day for 12/2/2014:

1. Kevin Durant returns to the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight vs. New Orleans

At 5-12, it’s been a tumultuous start to 2014-15 for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The loss of Durant and PG Russell Westbrook for a significant chunk of the season’s first month put them on ice early. But, both superstars are back. Just in time for their visit to Philadelphia to take on the 0-17 Sixers on Friday.

Despite their early woes, OKC is only 4.5 games out of a playoff spot. So, the return of KD tonight should be enough to see this team rise from the ashes and eventually reach the playoffs yet again.

durantOh, and tonight’s game is being played at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA. Is there a worse name for a stadium/arena than that? Besides, I thought Chip Kelly was the smoothie king.

2. New College Football Playoff rankings come out tonight

I’m not huge on the new College Football Playoff. Mostly because four teams is just not enough to truly find the best team in the country. When teams like Ohio State can beat up on Tuskegee University while playing only 1 or 2 ranked teams during their entire schedule, how can they truly be considered an elite program?

If I had to make my choices, the top four would be Alabama, Oregon, FSU, and TCU. But, you know two SEC teams will get into the dance, even though one of them (Mississippi State) won’t even be playing for their conference’s championship.

In other CFB news, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze signed a new 4 year contract worth $4.5 million per season. Is there anything more pathetic than the amount that D-1 coaches are being paid these days? Freeze not only got a $1.5 million raise with this extension. But, it also rips up a previously agreed upon contract just after the first year it took affect.

3. Phillies’ Papelbon puts $6.9 million condo up for sale

papelbonerThere’s no secret that the Philadelphia Phillies want to get younger and shed salary. One way of doing that would be to unload their $13 million closer. But, despite his success on the mound, interest in Jonathan Papelbon has remained dim. Whether it’s his antics off the field; or his declining peripherals on the diamond; Ruben Amaro has found it difficult to find a taker for the veteran right hander.

Despite the fact that Papelbon is in the process of selling his home, I would be surprised if Philadelphia unloaded him this offseason. A more apropos tactic would be to hang onto “Pap” until the trade deadline, when desperate contenders would be more willing to take on the remainder of his salary.

4. Can the Flyers’ ship be righted?

Everyone knew that the Philadelphia 76ers were going to be monumentally bad this season. However, there remained a sliver of hope that the city’s hockey team, the Flyers, would be able to lift the fanbase’s morale out of the doldrums of winter blues.

With the team mired in a four game losing skid, that fairy tale appears to be dwindling fast. At 8-12-3, Philadelphia sits in 5th place in the Metro Division. As predicted, they can’t play a lick of defense. Also on the forecast was the continued decline of former star Vincent Lecavalier. Tonight, Philadelphia has decided to bench the defensively (and now offensively) challenged forward against San Jose.

Philadelphia hasn’t won in 8 consecutive road affairs. Meanwhile, San Jose is one of the worst home teams this season at 3-4-2. Something tells me tonight is the night that Philadelphia gets things turned around (at least for a day).

5. When Nick Foles returns, who starts for Philadelphia Eagles?

Mark Sanchez has been astounding since his emergence as starting quarterback of the Eagles following Nick Foles’ broken collarbone. But, has the “Sanchize’s” performance been good enough to warrant continued playing time after Foles is cleared to play?

Doctors have said that Foles could return within 2-4 weeks. Of course, that’s a flaky timeline. Two weeks would put the 3rd year pro in line to start in Washington in week 16. Four would mean he couldn’t be ready to go until the playoffs. Would Chip Kelly feel comfortable throwing Foles to the wolves in a potential make-or-break playoff game, having not played a down since week 9? Or, would the offensive guru stick with the gunslinger who got him there?

In my opinion, it all depends on when Foles is ready to go. If he can come back against Washington, Kelly should consider going back to the former Arizona Wildcat. It would give Nick at least two weeks to prepare (barring a potential bye week) for a playoff run and would eliminate the controversy of someone losing their job to injury. Granted, Foles wasn’t exactly mimicking his masterful 2013 campaign. But, he’s still this team’s starting quarterback and was, up until a month ago, believed to be their best bet for the future.

Of course, if Sanchez plays like he did on Thanksgiving and is able to beat Seattle and Dallas, all bets are off. Having two quarterbacks you’re comfortable with is a good problem to have, and Chip Kelly will do everything in his power to make sure that the right man for the job is under center when the playoffs begin next month.

Weekly NFL Playoff Predictions

(These playoff seeding predictions are based upon projections for all remaining games. Top six teams make the playoffs. Tiebreakers determined by ESPN Playoff Machine)

AFC

1. New England Patriots  – 12-4
2. Denver Broncos – 12-4
3. Indianapolis Colts – 12-4
4. Cincinnati Bengals – 10-5-1
5. Kansas City Chiefs – 10-6
6. Baltimore Ravens – 10-6
7. San Diego Chargers – 9-7
8. Pittsburgh Steelers – 9-7
9. Miami Dolphins – 9-7
10. Buffalo Bills – 9-7
11. Houston Texans – 9-7
12. Cleveland Browns – 8-8

NFC

1. Green Bay Packers – 13-3
2. Philadelphia Eagles – 12-4
3. Arizona Cardinals – 11-5
4. Atlanta Falcons – 7-9
5. Seattle Seahawks – 11-5
6. Detroit Lions – 10-6
7. Dallas Cowboys – 10-6
8. San Francisco 49ers – 10-6

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One of the greatest Philadelphia Phillies in history is reportedly on the chopping block. Jimmy Rollins, the team’s fourth leading hitter of all time, is actively being shopped by Ruben Amaro Jr according to ESPN’s Buster Olney.

In 2013, Rollins put together the worst cumulative offensive season of his career. In 160 games, the shortstop hit .252 with just six home runs and 39 RBI (both career lows). This came on the heels of a strong 2012, when the 35-year old raked 23 home runs. With Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez, and Roman Quinn all looking like potential middle-infielders of the future, the team’s interest in dealing the veteran is conspicuous.

Trading Rollins, however, could prove difficult for the Phillies’ front office. Obviously, his value is at its lowest with regards to on-field production. Not only did J-Roll struggle with the stick last season; he also saw his once advanced defensive metrics continue to decline. The four-time Gold Glove Award winner’s -2.7 UZR/150 (the number of runs above or below average a fielder is, per 150 defensive games) and -15 defensive runs saved were the worst numbers of his illustrious career.

Contributing to Rollins’ immovability is his contract, which will see the 35-year old earn $11 million in 2014, the final guaranteed year of another “Amaro Special,” a three-year, $33 million contract signed prior to 2012. The deal also contains a rather attainable vesting option for $11 million in 2015 if Rollins reaches 434 plate appearances in 2014 (by comparison, Jimmy had 666 PA last year). Should that option not vest, the Phillies have an $8 million team option for Rollins. If that option is declined by the team, then Rollins is bestowed with a $5 million player option. Either way, it appears that Rollins will have plenty of “options” in play for 2015.

Further making Olney’s point moot is Rollins’ full no-trade clause, which allows him to block a trade to any team. Last summer, when the Rollins rumors began, the shortstop was quoted as saying that he had no interest in waiving his no-trade protection regardless of the team that he was being shopped to. After all, Jimmy is approaching the pinnacle of numerous prestigious franchise records, including hits (59 behind Mike Schmidt), runs (259 behind Schmidt), and stolen bases (85 behind Billy Hamilton). For the Phillies to have any hopes of dealing Rollins, they would first have to convince the former NL MVP that these accolades are not worth hurting the team’s future. Something tells me that will be a non-starter for Rollins.

Yes, the team is likely shopping their best shortstop of all time. But, it is extremely doubtful that, barring injury, anyone besides Jimmy Rollins is starting at shortstop next April. For once, a player wants to spend the entirety of his career in red pinstripes. We should be proud of the past that Rollins has brought and hopeful for the future achievements by one of the best that ever played the position.

Go to DirecTV and get the MLB Extra Innings package to make sure you don’t miss an inning of the action this season.

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When Ruben Amaro signed All Star closer Jonathan Papelbon to a 4 year, $50 million contract following the 2011 season, the Philadelphia Phillies considered themselves contenders for a world championship. They were coming off a 102 win season and boasted one of the best starting rotations in baseball. Now, two years later, the Phillies have seen their win total decline from 102 to 81 in 2012 and 73 in 2013. That begs the question. If you’re not in contention for a championship (or at least to make the playoffs), do you really need a closer making $13 million a season.

The answer is no.

Are the Phillies wise enough to notice that it’s unlikely that they’ll be playing deep into October next season? The lineup, rife with (aging) talent, just doesn’t seem capable of overcoming the hurdles that reality has presented them. Couple this with the fact that Philadelphia doesn’t even appear to have the money to fill out their rotation, and it’s clear that someone needs to go to free up salary.

As it stands, Philadelphia’s rotation consists of Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick, and two players to be named later. Maybe Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who hasn’t pitched a meaningful inning in well over a year, can claim that fourth spot. Maybe not. Still, he and the cast of supporting characters including Jonathan Pettibone, Ethan Martin, and Adam Morgan just do not inspire enough confidence going forward; especially for a team with a $170+ million payroll. In order to fill these massive chasms in their rotation, the Phillies will need to free up money. That’s after spending $42 million on Carlos Ruiz and Marlon Byrd, of course.

That’s not to say that Papelbon isn’t still a good closer. He may not be what he once was. But, a contending team could do far worse than “Pap.” With the Phillies the last two seasons, the former Boston Red Sox star has gone 10-7, 2.67 with 67 saves. His impressive 149:29 K:BB ratio only serves as proof that Papelbon can still get it done. Yes, his strikeout numbers were down in 2013 (from 92 in 70 IP in 2012 to 57 in 61.2 IP in 2013). But, fatigue was certainly a significant factor in that plight. It seemed that Charlie Manuel would go to Papelbon sometimes no matter the situation and with no regards to whether or not the 33-year old was ready to perform that evening.

Papelbon led the league in games finished with 64 in 2012. The following year, he experienced the jet lag that so many pitchers do when they are overused for an entire season as he was by the Phillies’ former skipper. It would not boggle the mind to see the five time All Star return to form in 2014. The only question remains, will it be with the Phillies?

If Philadelphia is all in to contend, they would be wise to keep Papelbon and try to find starters the old fashioned way; by developing them or by digging into the bargain bin of free agency. The last thing that Philadelphia needs to do is trade Papelbon and use that money on a veteran stopgap like Bronson Arroyo. All that would do is promise more heartache to Philadelphia fans, who will have to watch Arroyo labor through 6 innings before turning it over to a bullpen rife with inexperience and without a closer.

If the Phillies plan on rebuilding (which it doesn’t appear they will ever fully embrace), then Papelbon is worthless to them and should be dealt. It’s all up to Amaro, in the end. As General Manager, he is the only one that can decide whether or not the veteran right hander is long for the City of Brotherly Love.

One thing is for sure, this exciting offseason of movers and shakers continues with no end in sight.

Elsewhere at the Winter Meetings

– The Seattle Mariners continued their banner offseason. Just a week after they inked 2B Robinson Cano to a 10 year, $240 million contract, the Mariners have inked former Milwaukee OF/1B Corey Hart to a one year, $6 million deal. The contract includes incentives that could make the deal worth as much as $13 million.

– Seattle also dealt RHP Carter Capps to the Florida Marlins for 1B Logan Morrison. The move, along with Hart’s signing and the presence of young Justin Smoak, begs the question; just how many 1B does Jack Zduriencik think one team can start in a given game?

– The Pittsburgh Pirates also made noise today, announcing that they have resigned RHP Charlie Morton to a 3 year, $21 million contract. Morton went 7-4, 3.26 in 2013.

– Pittsburgh also announced that they boosted their rotation depth even more by signing veteran RHP Edinson Volquez to a one year, $5 million deal.

– Longtime utility infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. announced his retirement today at the age of 37. The veteran played for the Dodgers each of the last two seasons and has accepted a position with the Los Angeles broadcast team.

– The Washington Nationals moved to improve their bullpen by acquiring LHP Jerry Blevins from the Oakland Athletics for minor leaguer Billy Burns.

– San Diego has traded RHP Anthony Bass to the Houston Astros for a player to be named later or cash.

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Let’s get this out of the way first. I like Ruben Amaro. I’ve met the man and enjoyed a worthwhile conversation with him about baseball, my past, and my future. However, it’s becoming abundantly clear that the Phillies’ GM has dug himself a hole that he just cannot get out of. Even worse, as Amaro attempts to dig and pry himself out of the massive chasm, he can’t seem to figure out which direction to go.

Earlier this offseason, the Phillies seemed to be going with a “stay the course” strategy. Despite back-to-back seasons with no “Red October,” Amaro and the Phillies binged on multi-year contracts with Marlon Byrd (36) and Carlos Ruiz (34). By spending $42 million over the next three years on two aging players, Amaro signaled to Philadelphia that he and the organization were going to attempt to contend for one or two more seasons under the current core. This coincided with the team’s decision to resign 34-year old infielder Chase Utley and not trade 35-year old LHP Cliff Lee during the regular season.

Now, less than a month after the resigning of Ruiz, the Phillies are reportedly shopping 26-year old OF Domonic Brown along with Lee and fellow southpaw Cole Hamels. Does this really mean that Amaro is dramatically shifting the strategy for this team in the short and long term? Or, is it just more posturing from a front office that appears to be drastically over their heads? The latter would be the correct conclusion.

This isn’t the first time that Amaro was “shopping” various impact players. Lee has been on the proverbial trade block for nearly two years now, as his massive contract continues to impede the team’s attempts at rebuilding. Hamels, who was resigned to the largest contract for a pitcher in team history in 2012, is “reportedly” on the chopping block for the first time. It’s just another sign that Amaro doesn’t understand what to do with the mess that he himself has created.

Of course, the team’s reported hesitancy to absorb any of Lee’s or Hamels’ contracts will obstruct their ability to deal either of them. Few organizations are able to afford a $20+ million pitcher, let alone a 35-year old with at least $62.5 million coming his way in the next 2+ seasons ($25 million in ’14 and ’15, plus a $27.5 million option for ’16 with a massive $12.5 million buyout). The Phillies have made it known that they expect to receive impressive compensation for Lee. That, combined with the previously stated conviction against including any money in the deal, makes the possibility of a Lee trade highly unlikely.

As for Hamels, the best home grown pitcher in team history, a trade also seems unlikely. But, for different reasons. Despite the soon to be 30-year old’s massive deal ($132.5 million over the next six years), teams would undoubtedly be interested in the lefty’s services. Still in his prime, Hamels has struck out at least 200 batters in three of the last four years. He’s also a workhorse, having started 31+ games in each of the last six seasons. If Philadelphia were actually interested in rebuilding, Hamels would be a prime target for trade. But, the backlash from the fan base, the impact on the team’s success and, perhaps more importantly, ticket and merchandise sales, would be disastrous. Amaro knows this, and, unless he receives true major league ready impact talent like Giancarlo Stanton, will not trade Hamels this offseason.

As for Brown, the Phillies seem unlikely to unload the 26-year old unless they receive “two or three” young pitchers in return. That’s just not going to happen. Granted, the Angels just received that type of ransom in this afternoon’s three team deal for Mark Trumbo. But, the latter’s track record dwarfs Browns at this point. Any chance of Philadelphia dealing Brown seems remote unless they are absolutely wowed by an offer.

But, that’s just not going to happen. The Phillies aren’t going to trade any of Lee or Hamels unless they absorb at least some of their contracts. The same contracts that Amaro wrote and signed less than three years ago. Instead, Philadelphia will continue to pander to the rebuilding crowd by suggesting that they’re “open” to trading veterans like the two pitchers. After all, Ruben Amaro has made it abundantly clear that he can talk-the-talk. But, he cannot walk-the-walk.

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Yesterday, the Philadelphia Phillies announced that they had agreed to a 2 year, $16 million contract with former Mets’ OF Marlon Byrd. The deal includes a vesting/team option for a third year that could make the contract worth up to $24 million. Reaction to the signing has been mixed, with some suggesting that investing $8 million a year into a 36-year old player was another uninspiring move by Ruben Amaro Jr. Others believe that Byrd will be a fantastic complimentary piece to the left handed power that the Phillies already possess in their lineup. Below are five reasons why it was a good signing, and two reasons why it probably won’t work out:

Signing Marlon Byrd was smart because…

1. Byrd mashes left handed pitching.

In 2013, Byrd was an absolute terror against southpaws. The outfielder put together a .344/.376/.583 triple slash line (AVG/OBP/SLG) against them. For his career, the veteran has a .291/.343/.461 line. In English, he should provide adequate balance in a lineup rife with left handed batters.

2. Short term deal = low risk, high reward

The Phillies know that their holes this offseason are greater than merely a right handed power bat in the outfield. Philadelphia still needs to figure out what they’re doing behind the dish and in their rotation (they could probably use a bullpen improvement as well). So, waiting it out for the high priced talents like Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo was not a wise scenario. The other options included Nelson Cruz, whom many believed the Phillies would be after. Ruben Amaro Jr. noted on Tuesday that the Phillies pursued Cruz. But, were turned off by his opening offer of 5 years, $75 million. For a player that cannot play the outfield and is a PED risk, signing Cruz just would not be a smart economic decision.

With Byrd, the Phillies will get at the very least the league average production that he enjoyed from 2009-2011 with the possibility that 2013 was not an outlier but a new career norm.

3. The “PED” suspension was not steroids.

As we all know, Nelson Cruz was suspended for steroids along with a handful of others last season. In 2012, Marlon Byrd was ousted for 50 games due to a positive test for a banned substance. However, the substance itself was not “steroids.” Byrd was suspended for taking a banned substance to help recover from a surgical procedure following the 2011 season. He has been quoted as saying that he was “mortified by his carelessness” and accepted the suspension without any protest (unlike Cruz and many others). When he returned, Byrd was not the same that year. As we saw with Carlos Ruiz, it can take a lot of time to get your swing straight after missing time due to suspension. For Byrd, it all came together in 2013.

4. Defensively Dominant

This, I believe, was a critical reason as to why Byrd was pursued over others like Cruz. The Phillies have had some of the worst corner-outfield defense over the last two years, with the likes of Delmon Young, Juan Pierre, Domonic Brown, and John Mayberry bungling balls left-and-right. Meanwhile, Byrd brings a steadying presence to the corner. He posted a +2.6 UZR/150 in right field and The Fielding Bible claims that Byrd saved +12 runs in 1168 innings during 2013. Even if Byrd doesn’t hit like he did in 2013, the deal could still be worth it with plus defense. Byrd can also play center field should Ben Revere go down with another injury.

5. The finances fit

Last season, Jonny Gomes signed a 2 year, $10 million deal with Boston. Disregarding his production in 2013, it should be no surprise that Byrd got $16 million from the Phillies. Gomes was coming off of a .262/18/47 year with Oakland and had a career line of .244/136/411. Compare that to Byrd’s 2013 numbers (.291/24/88) and career numbers prior (.278/82/445) and there should be no questions. Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Shoo Choo, and Curtis Granderson should all be expected to command $16-17 million a year at the very least. That’s per year. Good luck finding a bargain like Byrd in this market.

Signing Marlon Byrd was not smart because…

1. Citizens Bank Park will soon become a senior’s community.

It’s no secret that the Phillies have one of the oldest teams in baseball. Years of long contracts given to aging veterans have left Philadelphia with a bad case of osteoporosis. Byrd only exacerbates that fact, as the veteran will turn 37 next August. The Phillies do have young players like Domonic Brown, Cody Asche, and Ben Revere projected in their starting lineup. But, that’s about it for players who you can reasonably expect to play five more seasons.

2. Outlier campaign

Byrd’s 2013 was obviously above and beyond anything he has done in the past. The slugger mashed 24 home runs in cavernous Citi Field, something few men have achieved before. Prior to last year, Byrd’s high HR total was 20 in 2009 with Texas. Now, there is some silver lining to that scenario. If Byrd regresses in power numbers, he could improve his poor K/BB ratio. Last season, Byrd struck out 144 times to just 31 walks. Prior to 2013, his career average was 106/42 per 162 game. That’s a much easier pill to swallow.

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The mood is dim in the City of Brotherly Love. Gone are the days of four aces and overflowing confidence. The decade of dominance, one that saw the Phillies capture this city’s first championship in 25 years, has waned. Instead, the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies have devolved into an enigma. Injuries, inconsistency, and age have contributed to a first half that was decidedly mediocre.

Still, there remains plenty of opportunity for a team once left for dead by their fan base. Philadelphia, thanks to a 9-4 stretch in July, is right in the thick of things in the National League. As the second half gets underway on Friday, the Phillies sit 6.5 games behind Atlanta in the East. They’re also just 5.5 out of the Wild Card, although that represents a trickier task thanks in large part due to the fact that they’d have to pass three teams to accomplish it.

Overall, it looks like a tricky situation. However, the Phillies have long been a strong second half team under Charlie Manuel. Even last year, when Philadelphia relied on the likes of Tyler Cloyd, Ty Wigginton, and Kevin Frandsen to be key contributors, they went 44-31 after the All-Star break, good for fifth in the NL. Couple that with their favorable schedule, and the Phillies’ faithful should not give up hope just yet.

There are 66 games remaining in the 2013 season. That is certainly enough to overcome a 6.5 game deficit in the division. It helps that the Phillies will play a majority of those games (35) against teams at or below .500. Philadelphia will see the Mets (10 games), Marlins (6), Cubs (6), Rockies (4), Giants (3), Dodgers (3), and Padres (3) over the next two months. With the exception of a three-game series at Wrigley Field, every non-divisional series against below .500 teams is at home.

Of course, that leaves 31 games against teams that are currently above .500, including two critical sets on the road over the next week-and-a-half in St. Louis and Detroit. If Philadelphia can survive their current nine-game home stand with five wins or better, they could be in for a smooth sprint to the finish. The Phillies play the Braves and Nationals a combined 22 times, something that should come in handy when it comes to catching Atlanta in the division. The only other series against a team above .500 is an August set at home against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have struggled over the last month. Simply put, the Phillies control their own destiny. If they beat Atlanta and Washington handily, they should be right in the divisional race at the end of September.

The Facts

– The Phillies are currently 6.5 games back of Atlanta in the NL East (Washington sits just ahead of them at 6 games back.

– The Phillies play a majority of their remaining games against teams that are below .500 (35 of 66).

– Of those 35 games, 16 come against NL East rivals New York and Miami. Of the remaining 19 games, only 3 are on the road. That leaves 16 home games against Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, Colorado, and San Francisco.

– Of their remaining games against above .500 teams (31), the Phillies play 22 against the two teams ahead of them in the NL East, Atlanta (13) and Washington (9). That leaves just three series against the likes of St. Louis, Detroit, and Arizona (home).

– Of their 35 games against below .500 teams, 22 of them are at home.

– Of their 31 games against above .500 teams, only 9 are at home.

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Since he was named General Manager in the winter of 2008, Ruben Amaro Jr. has spent a majority of his tenure with Philadelphia sacrificing prospects for veteran impact performers. A penchant for overspending on pitching whilst sacrificing the team’s once powerful offense has left the franchise at a crossroads. After half-a-decade of success, it is time for the Phillies to blow it up and start over.

The only question that remains is whether or not Amaro is the right man for the job. After all, his past efforts to acquire prospects for veterans have not materialized the way he, or most Philadelphians would have imagined. The December, 2009 trade of Cliff Lee to Seattle and last summer’s sales of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence have left the Phillies with Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, J.C. Ramirez, Tommy Joseph, Ethan Martin, and Seth Rosin. Of that crop, only Aumont has appeared in the majors, and few would suggest that he has lived up to the hype that made him the centerpiece of a deal for a former Cy Young winner.

Granted, most of these players are still very young, and Martin has performed admirably recently in Lehigh Valley. Joseph, meanwhile, has plenty of potential. He has, however, missed over a month with a concussion, the second he has suffered since his professional career began. Rosin has looked good this season. But, proficiency in the low-minors is a far cry from professional success.

Meanwhile, the crop of prospects acquired from Seattle have drastically underwhelmed. The erosion of Aumont’s command has left him toiling in AAA, where he went just 0.2 IP in his last appearance, surrendering 4 BB and 2 wild pitches. Ramirez, whilst talented, is as inconsistent as any Phillies prospect. One game, he will resemble the live-armed phenom they envisioned four years ago. The next, he will spend most of his time looking towards the sky wondering what went wrong. Gillies, the speedy outfielder once perceived as the heir apparent to Shane Victorino, has battled injuries and inconsistency throughout his Phillies career. After beginning the season in Lehigh Valley, the 24-year old was demoted to AA-Reading for more seasoning. 

The most profound candidates for sale are Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, and Jonathan Papelbon. The latter still has 2 years and $26 million remaining on his contract with a vesting option for 2016. He has also performed as well as anyone on the roster. Therefore, a deal of the Philadelphia closer seems unlikely. The rest are either upcoming free agents or, in Rollins’ case, have a manageable contract in the future. Many still believe that Utley should be a Phillie for life. But, it is that type of mentality that can cripple a franchise for a generation. After all, if Amaro had taken a more conservative stance with Ryan Howard or Cole Hamels, perhaps the team would not be in this current mess. 

Utley has not played a full season since 2008. His knees have eroded, and now the former All-Star’s oblique is keeping him out for extended time this season. If the Phillies can get value for Utley, they would be remiss to not listen. As much as it may hurt fans to see Utley in an Athletics or Tigers uniform, it would hurt the franchise even more to commit millions of dollars over multiple-seasons to a player who cannot stay on the field. 

One thing is for sure, the Philadelphia Phillies’ dominance of the NL East is over. It will take some time, but, the only chance Philadelphia has of once again parading down Broad St. is a yard sale of epic proportions this July. Is Ruben Amaro the right man for the job? We had better hope so.