It was a month of ups and downs for the Phillies in June with a five-game winning streak along with losing streaks of four and six. They followed up a 1-8 stretch with wins in 9 of 11 games, but finished with four straight losses. By the end of the month, the team made Ruben Amaro's decision a little easier as to whether to be buyers or sellers.
Home record: 6-10
Road record: 6-7
Top winning streak: 5
Top losing streak: 6 (including May 31)
Series record: 2-5-2
Began month: 24-29, last place
--1 game behind Mets for fourth place
--5 games behind 1st place Braves
Finished month: 36-46
--0.5 games behind Mets for 4th place
--8.5 games behind 1st place Braves
The human body protects itself in strange ways. We sweat to lower our body temperature. Blisters lead to calluses which protect our feet and hands. Damaged muscle fibers strengthen muscles. It is also human nature to create mental defense mechanisms for areas of weakness, which is what I will attempt to do here with the Phillies lethargic and hapless offense.
The Phillies have scored 2.5 runs per game in their last 12 games prior to tonight and 2 runs per game during their six game losing streak. The Phillies have the fourth lowest runs per game average (3.8) in the National League and have been shutout 11 times this season.
Given these harsh times, we must not forget that the Phillies have been decimated with injuries to several enormously impactful players. Names with impressive resumes like Wil Nieves, Reid Brignac, Darin Ruf, and Freddy Galvis (as well as Carlos Ruiz if you must). They even suffered through the short term absence of Tony Gwynn, Jr., and a paternity leave for Domonic Brown.
For those of you who did not catch the sarcasm, injuries are not the reason for the Phils' putrid bat swinging of late. To be perfectly honest, outside of Cliff Lee, the Phillies are very fortunate the injury list is not much, much, longer. All of the Phillies core players, outside of Chooch, each age 34 or older, have avoided the disabled list.
After watching his team lose 13 of 16 games after getting swept by the Pirates, Ruben Amaro decided to offer his thoughts on his struggling club prior to the start of the first game in Milwaukee.
"I didn't anticipate our guys being this poor. Because they are. They are this poor. We think that they're better. But they haven't shown it. So at some point we're going to have to make some changes. Some guys, once they are ready to play, may be factors for us."
Amaro put the onus directly on an underachieving group rather than accepting the blame for assembling the team.
After calling out his team for underperforming, Ruben Amaro went on a slight media tour which included an interview with Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic.
The Phillies have won five straight against postseason contenders and despite a 42-51 record they are unbelievably just 8 games back in the NL East and 9.5 games behind the best team in the National League (Brewers). Unless Ruben Amaro is completely delusional, the Phillies recent success changes nothing and they should still be sellers by July 31.
As much interest as the trading deadline will create, fans also must be prepared for the remaining product after all the carnage. So let's take a look at what the Phillies roster might resemble after the trades.
Let's begin with the most likely players to go, which I will assume is Marlon Byrd, Jonathan Papelbon, Kyle Kendrick, AJ Burnett, and Antonio Bastardo. But before we get to that, let's examine the few notable names missing from the list.
With a potential fire sale looming, no player on the Phillies roster is safe. But one name that rarely surfaces in trade rumors is the player the Phillies would most like to see vanish.
The Big Piece. Ryan Howard.
The prevailing wisdom is that Howard's gargantuan contract (he is still owed over $68 million) and severely declining production makes him virtually untradeable.
But there is a case for a Ryan Howard trade.
Of course, any such trade involves the Phillies eating an obscene amount of cash. Before we approach any potential suitors, let's determine Howard's actual worth.
In our regular feature on Phils Baseball, here are the rumors from the past week from the guys at MLB Trade Rumors. They have a page devoted just to Phillies rumors (this is not a paid plug, honest) and all we do is put everything from the past week in one post.
Here are the latest Phillies rumors from July 13-19:
Bill Giles gathered a silent group of investors and bought the Philadelphia Phillies in 1981 for $30 million. Thirty-three years later, the Phillies team value is $975 million according to Forbes.com. The Phillies have been a lucrative business investment which, despite the current lag in attendance and in the standings, is likely to continue paying dividends.
But is it possible the Phillies owners are ready to sell?
When Ruben Amaro let Jayson Werth walk after the 2010 season, he was not too concerned about replacing his power bat in the lineup. He had Domonic Brown. Ranked as the 15th best prospect by Baseball America prior to 2010, Brown hit .327 that season with 20 home runs and 68 RBI at triple-A before a July call up with the Phillies.
The Phillies and, frankly, nearly the entire baseball world was sold on Domonic Brown. So much so that Baseball Prospectus, Baseball America, and MLB.com all ranked Domonic Brown as the fourth best prospect in 2011. In three reputable draft rankings, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper ranked one and two, followed by the number 3 rated, then Domonic Brown.
Citizens Bank Park is a more attractive destination than ever before this summer. It is a shorter walk from the parking lot, gone is the worry of being sandwiched between two large, sweaty, drunk guys, and the beer lines are short. Who needs interest and intensity when you can have shorter beer trips and more leg room?
Of course, we aren't talking US Airways here, and empty seats are not considered positive for baseball organizations. Since last season, the Phils lead all of baseball with a decline of 6,800 fans per game, according to baseball-reference.com. They dropped from the 8th in attendance to 14th.
Ruben Amaro, Jr. said this week when speaking of Ryan Howard, "Listen, everybody's being evaluated. That's part of baseball. We're all scrutinized and evaluated."
That's exactly right, Rube. With the trading deadline just two days away, it is time for Amaro's evaluation. Over the next few days leading to Thursday's deadline, I will chronicle the good moves (yes, there are some), the bad moves, and all other notable moves in Ruben Amaro's six years as general manager, followed by an overall evaluation.
First, a few ground rules. I did the unenviable task of going through every single move Amaro made and included all moves of any real consequence. Outside of the truly minor moves with players like Scott Mathieson, everything was included. Rather than ranking the moves, they are presented in chronological order.
Let's begin with the best moves from Ruben Amaro, Jr.
Ryan Howard would like fans to put things in perspective.
When asked about the burden of his contract and performance earlier this week, Howard told reporters, “Baseball is a game. Yeah, I get paid a lot of money to play it, but it's a game. You go out and see little kids doing it, because it's a game. You have to keep things in perspective.” He later added, “I have a beautiful wife, a son, a baby on the way.”
In other words, Howard does not feel burdened by his contract and poor performance because he has a wonderful life outside of baseball.
A couple days later, Howard changed his mind.
There is very little to be excited about with the Phillies these days. They are in the basement in the NL East, have the fourth worst record in the league, and aren't likely to contend for at least two more years. The Phillies MUST make changes if they hope to keep the window within that time frame.
Cole Hamels has been unworldly this season and watching him dealing last night was a thing of beauty, but the only real excitement the Phillies can create is by making a big splash before the deadline.
A piece from Corey Seidman on csnphilly.com offers some reason for excitement. In his post, Seidman explores the possibility of trading Cole Hamels to the Dodgers. There is absolutely no indications of any imminent deals, but let's live in the dream world for a moment.
Let's pretend the Phillies are able to pull off the deal proposed by Jim Bowden of ESPN.com of Hamels for Joc Pederson, Julio Urias, and Alex Guerrero.
Ruben Amaro, Jr. inherited a World Champion when he took over for Pat Gillick following the 2008 season. Amaro has been a textbook example of how to slowly disintegrate a ball club. Under Amaro's leadership, the Phillies lost in the World Series in 2009, lost in the NLCS in 2010, lost in the NLDS in 2011, finished with a .500 record in 2012, lost 89 games in 2013, and are on pace for 91 losses this season.
Ruben Amaro has made multiple mistakes during his six years as the general manager of the Phillies. In the second of four posts on Ruben Amaro, we take a look at the worst of his moves.
Here's a little teaser: this list is much longer than the previous list of good deals.
Again, this is not a ranking but instead the moves are listed chronologically. So, here they are. The worst moves from Ruben Amaro, Jr.: