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There’s no good reason for the Phillies to sell right now

Jul 2, 2012, 6:54 PM EDT

Cole Hamels Getty Images

It’s easy to see why the Phillies are discouraged. Despite possessing the highest payroll, they currently have the 12th-best record of the 16 National League teams. They’re on pace for 72 wins, which would be their lowest total since 2000 and a whopping 30-game drop from last year.

Still, a shakeup just doesn’t make much sense.

Chase Utley is back. Ryan Howard is on target to return immediately after the All-Star break. Roy Halladay is throwing without pain and could be back within three weeks.

Carlos Ruiz is having a great year. Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence both excelled during June. Juan Pierre is still hitting, believe it or not, and even Placido Polanco has gotten his act together of late.

On the pitching side, the bullpen aside from Jonathan Papelbon has been a mess. However, Cole Hamels is an All-Star. Vance Worley has a 2.92 ERA. Cliff Lee may be winless, but he has an 89/19 K/BB ratio in 89 1/3 innings. For that matter, Joe Blanton is at 89/15 in 104 innings.

Despite the absences of Utley and Howard, the Phillies rank seventh in the NL in runs scored per game. Last year, their 102-win team ranked seventh in the NL in runs scored per game. The problem is that the pitching has taken a major hit. However, there’s no reason to think the rotation won’t finish strong.

Look at my standings column from earlier this afternoon; no NL teams are running away and hiding. The Mets and Pirates are on pace to tie for the second wild card with 87 wins, and in all honesty, it seems optimistic that either team will really finish that well. The Phillies won 63 percent of their games last year. If they can do that over their final 81 games of 2012, they’ll finish with 87 wins. Even 85 could make them a possibility for the postseason. It’s an uphill climb for sure, but it’d be crazy to write them off. Instead of thinking about trading Hamels and Shane Victorino, the Phillies should go get themselves as setup man and try to make a run.

  1. drmonkeyarmy - Jul 2, 2012 at 6:59 PM

    Should trade Shane Victorino for a set-up man and make a run. Good call Matthew.

  2. flyinhighwithvick - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:03 PM

    No good reason? Really? OK…everyone keeps saying wait til Howard and Utley get back. Utley’s back, theyre 0-6 since his return. They had a healthy Howard and Utley last year, and what did they do in the playoffs? Now Howard, coming back from an ACL, and Utley another year older, and these two are going to save the day? Pence has come up with some big hits, but he’s a flat out liability in RF. And he looks like Pedro Cerrano anytime someone throws him something off-speed. Victorino is lost in space worrying about his contract. Rollins got his contract, so he no longer cares. On and On and On….I just don’t feel like typing anymore.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:08 PM

      If you are going to rant at least bring some facts. First, don’t cite a 5 game playoff series when determining whether a team is “done” or not. Sample size, etc. Second, Howard is coming off an Achilles tear not an ACL (wish it were ACL). Lastly, Rollins has been playing decently sans the first month or so of the season. I think you are judging them rather harshly. As Matthew pointed out, the clear issue has been the pitching staff. The offense has been better than I expected to be honest. The “nightmare of a bullpen” coupled with injuries to the starting staff as led to a debacle on the mound.

    • wetmorepsu12 - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:19 PM

      dude you could have used a little bit more thought before you posted. first off, utley hasnt been the problem. 1.044 OPS in the four games he’s played. small sample size, i know, but he’s not the reason they’re 0-6 since he came back. howard isnt coming back from an ACL, its his achilles. whether or not howard is back to his old ways, he will still be a huge power threat, at the very least allowing the hitters around him to see better pitches, and will get that god-awful wigginton out of the everyday. with regards to pence, you think pitchers are gonna throw him meatballs with victorino protecting him? if you have any sense of who the phillies are and have been, rollins is a notorious slow starter and has been ridiculously good the past month. victorino sucks, but whatever. lee has been subpar but his track record means there’s promise. but you forgot the biggest reason for the phillies not to sell: the return of the best pitcher in baseball when healthy, roy halladay. when you turn an almost assured loss (kendrick) into an almost assured win (halladay), it will drastically improve your ballclub.

  3. muckthefets23 - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:05 PM

    Ryan howard has an ACL injury?? That’s news to me… I agree the phillies should try and make a push if it doesn’t pan out you regroup for next season.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:11 PM

      They need to trade Victorino soon though. Shake up the team and whatnot.

    • Utley's Hair - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:11 PM

      That would be news to him and the surgical team, too.

  4. dkphilly1122 - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    amen drmonkeyarmy. As a diehard, meaning I bleed red, the Phillies are not done by any means. They NEED desperately 2 setup guys and they’ll win way more games. There bullpen has been there achillies heal all season and there’s no reason to not think if they get bullpen help that they can’t start going on a tear. When a team puts up 4-7 runs they should be winning games, the offense HAS been producing, contrary to what that idiot up further was saying about sell everyone. They can’t just throw in the towel now. Mind as well ride the wave you had for 5 years now, than worry about a rebuild when that ends.

    • CJ - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:48 PM

      you can ride this thing out until the wheels fall in and maybe luck into a title, maybe not. By then everyone’s past their prime and it’s too late to reload, and you’re looking at another 5-10 years of mediocrity (at best), or pure and unadulterated sucktitude (at worst). Likely some combination thereof.

      Or you can make some moves now and unload some guys they end up losing anyway (they can’t afford to keep Hamels AND Chooch AND Pence AND Victorino AND Blanton AND, well you get the point) for salary relief and to infuse this roster with young (and cheaper) talent. Will that mean you can write them off for a world series title this year and most likely next? Yes. But if you haven’t done that already for this season, then you’re already delusional and there’s nothing I can say to change your mind. It’s the quickest way back to being a contender, and not just maybe for a year or two, but for the long haul. You’ll still have a solid core in Lee, Halladay, Papelbon, and Utley, and it’s proven that Achilles’ injuries take up to two years to fully recover from anyway.

    • Francisco (FC) - Jul 2, 2012 at 9:45 PM

      meaning I bleed red,

      Considering every human being on the planet bleeds red, that doesn’t sound very extraordinary. You should have gone for the Lawrence Fishburne paraphrase from MI:3. As a diehard fan, meaning I will bleed over the uniform to keep those pinstripes red…

  5. muckthefets23 - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    They genuinely need some bullpen help and have the DL clear up a bit. Those two elements would spark the winning fire. This team is far from done unlike some others I’m not ready to write them off, stranger things have happened, with last years wildcards as a perfect example.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:28 PM

      I think there is cautious optimism for the bullpen as well. Schwimmer is pitching better. I always thought that if he would just trust his stuff more and get some confidence, he could get the job done. Furthermore, Diekman should pitch more and has looked good in recent outings. Sending Qualls packing and demoting Savery was a good start.

  6. kingjoe1 - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:25 PM

    I think the core can have a 2 or 3 more good years. They need an infusion of youth into the organization. Trading Hamels and Victorino for some good young players would secure the future. Sending Pence packing would be nice because they wont and he doesnt deserve a 6 yr 85 million dollar deal like Ethier got. Get a young Outfielder and move on.

    • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:29 PM

      They should be calling up their young OF once he is healthy. I might be in the minority, but I still have faith in Brown. Think he can be a player. Just needs an opportunity to shine.

      • kingjoe1 - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:46 PM

        Brown has a much brighter future in the MLB than Mayberry who for some reason is loved by Manual. Make the trades, bring up Brown, fire Manual and hire Sandberg.

      • paperlions - Jul 2, 2012 at 9:10 PM

        The talent is still there..but there seems to be some question if it’ll happen with Philly, I think they screwed up when they called him up and gave him 70 PAs over nearly 1/2 a season. You don’t call guys like him up and have him sit on the bench….you call him up and play him or you leave him in the minors. That was just bad management…he seems like a good “change of scenery” candidate.

        His stock is low right now….might as well call him up and tell him the job is his and see if the chance in the majors rekindles something….other wise, his continued crap performance in the minors at 24 yrs old is going to do nothing but kill his stock further.

        Mayberry is already 28 and he’s been horrible this year….Brown can’t be any worse….and with their current place in the standings, why not take the chance?

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 2, 2012 at 9:14 PM

        Paperlions….voice of reason. Well said, I agree completely.

      • Jonny 5 - Jul 3, 2012 at 9:38 AM

        Brown isn’t even hitting respectable numbers in AAA. And now he’s on the DL. Mayberry is better because he can play every OF position better than anyone the Phillies now have besides Victorino. He can play 1st base very well. He’s a perfect bench player. Brown sucks defensively and has been bad in AAA, and now he’s hurt for the second time this season. I’m sorry, but voice of reason PL is not. Brown can be, and is worse than Mayberry or they’d have switched spots already with this season stinking as it has.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:55 PM

        I disagree. So what if Brown hasn’t been hitting at AAA? They’ve been dicking around with this kid for a couple years now. Need to just call him up and play him. I guarantee you….a 5 star Dr.MonkeyArmy guarantee mind you, that Brown will out produce Mayberry and be a more valuable asset if given a fair shake.

      • Jonny 5 - Jul 3, 2012 at 4:07 PM

        I’m sorry Good doctor, but I have ZERO faith in Dom Brown. Where as I have a smidgen of faith in Mayberry. Brown was playing every day in the minors and was sucking really badly, hit a ton for a short span to move his numbers up to a more respectable level then went on the DL. I don’t see him helping ANYONE this season.

      • drmonkeyarmy - Jul 3, 2012 at 4:08 PM

        Well, I suppose this is where we will agree to disagree. Hey, I hope Jr. comes good and proves me wrong… I truly do. I really just don’t see that happening though.

  7. nineroutsider - Jul 2, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    I don’t care what anybody says, if the Mets and Nats are atop your division than you aren’t out of it until the math says you are. Don’t start picketing outside of Amayo’s office yet Philly!

    It’s a long season and this sport requires patience. As a fan it is tough, but they could start reeling off the wins, squeak in as a wild card, and upset everyone…upset the Giants.

    • gloccamorra - Jul 3, 2012 at 11:39 AM

      The math is daunting. At 36-45 they’re 9 games under .500 with 81 games to go. The team with the best record is Texas at 50-30. If the Phils go 51-30 the rest of the way, they’ll have 87 wins and be barely in contention for the second wild card. That’s cutting it pretty fine.

  8. muckthefets23 - Jul 2, 2012 at 10:22 PM

    Just a thought, and correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t Blanton’s contract up end of this year anyway? So that’s shedding some payroll for possible other talent or to possibly keep Hamels. Honestly some people are really blowing this situation out of proportion. Health is a huge factor for where the Phils stand right now. Had they been healthy all season there is no way they’re this far out.

  9. obamablowz - Jul 2, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    SELL SELL SELL SELL…..I can’t watch one more freaking misplay by Hunter Pence in RF…can’t watch one more blown lead…can’t watch Cliff Lee not get ONE win…can’t watch this old team anymore…SELL SELL SELL SELL while you can get young talent for what you have.

  10. schuckme - Jul 2, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    Amen.. well written my friend..

  11. dan1111 - Jul 3, 2012 at 2:46 AM

    I’m not a Phillies fan, but I think Pouliot is right on this. 7.5 games behind weak teams in the wildcard is not that bad. If they had played .530 ball so far and were that far back, no one would be surrendering. It’s their record that looks bad, but that should not matter. The question is: do they have the talent to compete going forward? Probably, yes.

  12. sincitybonobo - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:22 AM

    Can anyone envision this team playing .630 baseball for three months? I sure can’t. Through 81 games, their winning percentage is .444.

    Pitching is great, but scoring runs on a consistent basis matters. Even if they don’t trade Hamels, there is no assurance he will be a Phillie in 2013. Cole would be the 4th Phillie with a $20 million + salary. They’ve painted themselves into a corner by granting huge deals to established guys on the wrong side of 30. Howard’s deal was puzzling from the start- even before the injury. Ironically, this may cost them one of the best starting pitchers to ever emerge from their system.

    Singleton, D’Arnaud, and Gose, are going to help big league teams win games in the very near future. Each were traded for established talent. It’s time to replenish the farm system with prospects who are close to MLB-ready.

    Hamels could easily help deliver a World Series to a contender. As such a valuable piece, he can command a huge haul of A-list prospects. Texas has a very deep system and couldn’t be hungrier for a title after coming within a strike of a ring- twice. If ever there is a situation where a team would overpay for a rental, isn’t this it?

    I would trade him ASAP- before Doug Melvin gets perhaps some of the same players in return for Zack Greinke.

    Amaro Jr. would take a pounding from sports talk radio and local media. Plus, the fans have packed The Bank since the 2007 playoff streak began. But, does high attendance preclude an aging team from looking around corners toward the future?

    • sincitybonobo - Jul 3, 2012 at 3:43 AM

      The highest Winning percentage in 2012 is Texas – .625.
      They have scored 80 more runs than the Phillies and given up 35 fewer in one less game played.

      PHI: RS- 347 RA-362 = RD -15
      TEX: RS- 427 RA-327= RD+100

      • Jonny 5 - Jul 3, 2012 at 9:29 AM

        “Hamels could easily help deliver a World Series to a contender. As such a valuable piece, he can command a huge haul of A-list prospects.”

        Not really. Under the new CBA, teams like the Rangers looking for a rental player are due no compensatory draft picks as they did in the past when he walks as a FA. Unless they plan on signing him to a long term deal. He will garner some decent A-Level talent, but a huge haul? Not so much.

  13. Jonny 5 - Jul 3, 2012 at 9:24 AM

    I want to scream when people just blindly say trade Victorino. Who is going to play CF? Brown? He’s a terrible fielder and is questionable with a bat. Mayberry? Sure he can play CF but he can’t hit. Pierre is ok at fielding but his arm is weak. I don’t think the Phillies can afford to get rid of Victorino plus he’s got a huge upside with his bat, which hasn’t shown up lately making his trade value not much. If the Phillies are going to make a push for the off season it has to be with Victorino or equal in CF.

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