I want you to do a little GM exercise today. Copy and paste the Phillies active roster into a Word Document today and don’t touch it for 12 days. Take a look again on Aug 1 and if that roster has not changed, you have successfully performed your first magic trick.
The Phillies will be buyers or sellers in some way, shape, or form at the trading deadline, but they aren’t likely to be nonexistent onlookers. It becomes more likely with each Phillies win that they will be buyers, but let’s prepare ourselves for the doomsday scenario (as I have) and assume the Phils sell the farm. Let’s pretend that the Phillies trade pretty much everyone (Lee, Utley, Rollins, Ruiz, Kendrick, Papelbon, and Michael Young). Consider this your first therapy session.
Here’s how the Phillies would look on paper:
C – Erik Kratz & Umberto Quintero
1B – Darin Ruf
2B – Kevin Frandsen
SS – Freddy Galvis
3B – Cody Asche
LF – Domonic Brown
CF – John Mayberry
RF – Delmon Young
Justin De Fratus
Here’s a quick breakdown of the starters, the lineup, and the bullpen:
The Phillies rotation would drop significantly from the 10th ranked in the National League (3.93 ERA) to probably one of the worst. Cole Hamels is fine as the ace of the team. Behind Hamels is John Lannan, who has pitched well this season, but he is not a number two starter. The last three starters resemble something out of a horror story with Jonathan Pettibone, Tyler Cloyd, and a minor leaguer (let’s assume it is Ethan Martin). The Phillies have survived pretty well with Pettibone and Cloyd so far, but there is only so long they can be counted on.
The sight of this starting rotation is why I say the Phillies can trade anyone EXCEPT Cliff Lee. The all-star lefty brings the best package without a doubt, but elite pitchers are hard to find. The Phillies with Lee have a fighting chance to compete no matter what their offense does, but as you see, without him is a mess.
The Phils’ lineup is likely to struggle without Utley, Rollins, Ruiz, and Michael Young, but it should be interesting to watch nonetheless. The main advantage of mid-season trades is that it offers a close up look at Darin Ruf, Cody Asche, Freddy Galvis, and Kevin Frandsen for an extended period of time. It will help Ruben Amaro determine which of these players he can count on as the future of the franchise. Here are some of the more interesting questions to answer in the final two months:
Is Cody Asche a potential all-star at third base? Are the reports true that he has the makeup, work ethic, and determination of Chase Utley?
Is Darin Ruf the heir apparent to Ryan Howard?
Will Freddy Galvis begin to show signs of life in his bat?
Is Kevin Frandsen an everyday player or just a great bench piece?
Can Domonic Brown handle the pressure of carrying an offense? How will he react as the veteran of the group?
What I am more interested in is whether or not Charlie Manuel can make a winner out of the Phillies with their new look offense. The Phillies went 37-23 (.617 winning percentage) after trading Bobby Abreu and David Bell in 2006 – is it possible he can do the same with this group?
My faith in Charlie Manuel performing a similar second half miracle like in 2006 ends with the bullpen. Without Jonathan Papelbon, the Phillies do not have one reliever they can reliably count on. It is a young, inexperienced, group of pitchers, most of whom struggled in the minor leagues before their call-ups. I offer no stats or analysis here other than to direct you to the names in the above list.
If the Phillies make wholesale changes, they could suffer a miserable end to this season and this wonderful era with this manager. It could spell a return to the futility of which we been so accustomed as Phillies fans in their long, unremarkable history.
But it could be just one “suck it up” season before the rebirth of this franchise. Nothing beats an unlikely pennant push, but watching the growth of a potential nucleus can also be a lot of fun. As much as I have pushed for them to sell at the deadline, I would love for the Phillies to make a fool of me and make the playoffs on the way to their second World Series championship in six years. But if they don’t and are forced to jump ship, there is still plenty to look forward to.
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