|It's Been A Good Run, Shane.|
“One time, we had the greatest attitude and best hustle of any team I ever had,” Manuel said on Saturday. “Teams used to tell me. General managers used to tell me they had just as much talent but we had more heart. I always thought we had the talent and the heart. Seriously. We kind of slipped a little bit. I think our play shows that.”That's not something to dismiss- say what you will about Charlie, he's only won divisions here and in Cleveland, and won a World Series- no big deal. If Charlie says this, you can take it as true. The one area he was always very good was in motivating and mentally preparing his players. He says this group is poor in that area. Sounds about right.
When you take the sum of the ages of the players, the number of injuries this team has endured this year and in the past two (which was a lot), their eleven games under .500 record, and now this, the verdict is now in, after two losses in Atlanta- it's time to sell. The Phillies are 8-6 after the All-Star break, which isn't bad, but it won't get them anywhere. The fact is, they're a 45-56 team after 101 games. The next 61 won't bring that much change.
For this reason, the next 51 hours or so should be a time of movement for the Phillies. Hunter Pence is sitting today, and they say that's a coincidence, but I'd be fine if it's not. Joe Blanton had another good start, and is attracting interest- which I say is great. Who should all be available, and for what? Here's my basic rundown:
- Hunter Pence- Now this one's difficult, but I'd look into it. You can't give away a productive player, and Pence's overall numbers are productive, even if his average is down. The problem is, Pence will make $13-15 million next year, which is money that puts you on the ledge between good and great players, and frankly, I see him as good not great. So you require a lot back, but you make him available. You can do this in the winter too, if the return isn't great. San Francisco is rumored to be in on him, and if they are, good. I'd look at a package if they put in Gary Brown (#1 rated in system, and an outfielder). If not, they'd have to mix in a lot from their top ten. I wouldn't be stunned to see some other teams get in on this one too though.
- Joe Blanton- Joe is throwing really well all of a sudden, as he does so often in the second half. The Phillies would be well advised to move Joe, and get salary relief. The Orioles and Blue Jays are apparently interested. One guy with some level of upside for the majors, and salary relief for the rest of his deal, and I'd move Joe right out of town now, and get a look at Tyler Cloyd.
- Juan Pierre- The Reds apparently like Pierre a lot, so I'd make a match here. Pierre is getting $800,000 this year, meaning they will have to absorb next to nothing ($300,000 to an MLB team is peanuts), so it's not too much to think you can get two guys back, maybe a reliever and a prospect with some upside.
- Shane Victorino- He's been on top of my list all year, but the reality is that no one's shown a real desire to get a deal done for him. I'd love to get Marte and/or Lincoln from Pittsburgh back for him, but so far no one's bit on him for that kind of price. I still find the Dodgers to be a strong possibility, especially the longer they can't get a deal done for Dempster (and have prospects around). What you expect back for Shane depends on how much of his remainder on a $9.5 million deal you want to pay? If the Reds turned down a Victorio for Ondrusek deal last week, it was probably over money. I'd expect two to three guys back, but the quality would wildly vary based on money I think.
- Cliff Lee- Yes, Cliff Lee. I put him in the same category as Pence, in that you only deal him for a huge return, if you even do. If Texas would put Olt in, and the money could possibly match up, maybe you'd do it. I doubt it happens though. The biggest hurdle here is that he's been paid about $23 million of his $120 million guarantee over five years, so you have $97 million to make work. It's highly doubtful.
- Placido Polanco- Yes, he's on the DL, so yes, this is hard. First though, you may be able to package him with Blanton to Baltimore, and at least relieve some of his salary two. Secondly, he probably would clear waivers, being that he's expensive and on the DL. That gives you another month's window to move him.
- Brian Schneider- Why not? Again, he's on the DL, but lots of teams need back-up catching upgrades, or have an injury need. Schneider is a veteran, outstanding defensive presence behind the plate, and probably would be movable even in August. Let's be honest, if you don't move him, you put him on waivers, and if someone takes him, good, have the salary. Kratz is not really a drop-off, and this team isn't bad because of back-up catching.
- Jon Papelbon- Say what? Yes. The Phillies owe him $39 million beyond this year (that could be $47 million). Is he worth the contract? Yes, I think he actually is. With that said, no team needs a closer if they're not a contender. I don't think he's movable right now, but with that said, take a look around.
- Kyle Kendrick- Yes, I know, I just made some fans smile. Kendrick's on a roll right now, and as a swing-man type, might have some value out on the market. If you can avoid paying him for next year's part of the deal by moving him now while he's on a 20+ inning scoreless streak, do it.
- Jimmy Rollins- Like Pence, Lee, and Papelbon, you don't just give away a Jimmy at this point. He's got two, more likely three, years left on his deal, and as crazy as this may sound to some fans, is still an elite shortstop in the National League (go stack his numbers up against the rest). He still plays an elite, if not quite Gold Glove Shortstop now, and may have value. The issue is that the Dodgers and Giants may not be as in now, especially with Scutaro in San Francisco, so you'd be dealing with Oakland, who may balk at his money.
- Ty Wigginton- In the world of dumb decisions, the Phillies decision to not entertain the Yankees offer for him last week is up there, if it's true. Wigginton's not a bad baseball player- but he's not a great one either. If someone makes you a good offer, you don't turn it down.
Notice here, not everyone is on this list- big names who were hurt don't have max-value. Chooch is worth keeping. Younger guys get a further look.
Now, there is certainly more to look at here. What do you do after these deals? Try Galvis at third after his suspension. Promote Cesar Hernandez to Lehigh Valley to join Pettibone, as his numbers at second base (.300 avg., .771 OPS, 25 doubles, 11 triples, 2 homers, 16 stolen bases, .340 OBP) suggest he's an option to replace Chase Utley if you decide to move on from him before or after his contract ends next year. Hell, he's hit .300 on every level, save for the first two months of last season (he made a two level jump last season). Get Dom Brown up, and playing every day for the rest of this season, so you can finally know what you have. Promote Darin Ruf to AAA in left. If you move a bench piece, maybe get a look at Cody Overbeck off the bench. Start getting a better feel of what you have with two months of live baseball, so you know where to spend your money correctly this off-season, rather than just running a "fantasy team" that spends money on the biggest names. The Phillies should actively sell off their aging, injured, unmotivated team, and start building their next championship team in the next 51 hours.