For the Phillies, It’s Time to Sell
The Phillies lost, in excruciating fashion, the final game of a five-game home series with the New York Mets on Monday night. It was a competitive ballgame for a while, as the Phils trailed 1-0 going into the sixth, but Roberto Hernandez and Mario Hollands combined forces to allow a four-spot, and Jake Diekman and Phillippe Aumont teamed up in the ninth for a six-run inning — which included a Wilmer Flores grand slam — in what turned out to be an 11-2 loss.
The homestand ends with the Phillies going 1-2 against the Los Angeles Dodgers, 2-1 against the Colorado Rockies, and 1-4 against the Mets. The Phillies are now 24-31 overall, 6.5 games out of first place and three games out of fourth place. Only the Chicago Cubs (20-34), Arizona Diamondbacks (23-36), Tampa Bay Rays (23-35), and Houston Astros (24-34) have worse records than the Phillies. By run differential, the Phillies (-41) are better than only the Diamondbacks (-65) and Astros (-45). Their current .436 winning percentage puts them on pace for a 71-91 record.
Even as recently as two weeks ago, there was some hope at a competitive season. With a victory in the series opener against the Marlins, the Phillies won their third consecutive game and moved to 20-22, four games out of first place. They have gone 4-9 since then. In three out of their next four games, they will face Jordan Zimmermann, Stephen Strasburg, and Johnny Cueto. After Cueto, they’ll also face Alfredo Simon, who has pitched quite well this season and isn’t to be forgotten about. The Phillies very well could only win one out of their next five games.
At any rate, it’s time for the Phillies to give up on the misguided notion that they can actually compete this season and go into sell mode. Michael Baumann went over the Phillies’ trade assets and it’s as depressing as one would expect. GM Ruben Amaro isn’t going to get a top-100 prospect with any trade he might make this summer. Still, the club has to position itself to be competitive down the road, and that means pawning off any player who won’t be around for that era.
Almost everyone on the roster — excluding Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Domonic Brown, and Ben Revere — should be made available to the 29 other teams leading up to the July 31 trade deadline and the August 31 waiver deadline. It won’t be sexy, and the Phillies will be painful to watch likely for at least another year and a half, but it will be worth it in the long run.
For right fielder Marlon Byrd and catcher John Buck last year, the Mets got reliever Vic Black and 20-year-old second baseman Dilson Herrera. Both appear to be useful pieces for the Mets. The Nationals turned David DeJesus into Matthew Spann from the Rays. The Astros turned Justin Maxwell into Kyle Smith. None are sexy names who had the scouts salivating, but all could become useful pieces for their teams sooner or later. Winning the lottery isn’t so much about finding the magical sequence of numbers, but simply buying enough lottery tickets and hoping you get lucky.
Because of their 73-89 finish last season, the Phillies will pick seventh in the upcoming MLB first-year player draft, which starts on June 5. They’ll likely finish with one of the ten worst records again this season, and if they do, they will have a protected first-round draft pick in next year’s draft as well. While the pace isn’t at the speed some of us had hoped, the Phillies are a team with a bright future. J.P. Crawford recently made Keith Law’s updated list of baseball’s top-25 prospects, ranking 19th. Maikel Franco, Jesse Biddle, and Ken Giles should be able to get their feet wet in the big leagues next season.
Amaro nearly went through July and August before trading away Michael Young last season. It would be unwise to repeat that again. It’s time for the Phillies to fold their 2014 hand and do everything possible in the next two months to ensure the cards they’re playing in 2015 and beyond are as good as they can possibly be.