Things are not looking good in Philadelphia. The Phillies have had a horrendous first half, and their 37-50 record reflects many issues with the team.
Beyond the injuries and age, the Phillies have simply lacked heart and coherence this season. They are an embarrassing 0-37 when trailing after seven innings. While nobody expected them to be running away with the NL East again, being 14 games back in the division is unacceptable.
Blame can be spread all over the place. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. did pretty much nothing to provide insurance for the injured and aging Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
After signing Jonathan Papelbon, he left the rest of the bullpen up to Chad Qualls, Antonio Bastardo and Michael Schwimer. He could have gone after someone to take over at third base, or play either corner outfield position, but he tried to plug in Juan Pierre.
Amaro is also stuck with paying Ryan Howard $95 million over the next four seasons and Cliff Lee $72 million over the next three seasons. Chase Utley will make $15 million next season, while Roy Halladay brings in $20 million.
These four players are 32, 33, 33 and 35, respectively. Meanwhile, they have played a combined 38 games this season. That is not good.
A couple of weeks ago, there was still hope that the season could be salvaged with the returns of Halladay, Howard and Utley. Halladay, however, has yet to return, Howard's return saw the team go scoreless, and the Phillies have been 1-10 with Utley in the lineup. Though Lee has played the whole season, he only has one win.
Any of those four—especially Lee and Utley—could be enticing to a team that wants to make a big push in the second half of the season. If Amaro can get a good prospect for one of them, it would be a smart decision.
Cole Hamels is probably going to be on the move at the trade deadline, and he should be. The Rangers are rumored to be the favorites, which is fine, as long as the Phillies get some good talent in return.
Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino are the other two Phillies still with some trade value, and they should be packaged in a deal as well. Victorino is hitting an abysmal .245, and his attitude has been in question recently as well. Pence has been decent at the plate, but the rest of his game leaves a lot to be desired.
Domonic Brown has seemingly disappeared as well, and not moving him last year is looking like another miscalculation by Amaro. He has been battling injuries but hasn't hit well in the minors when healthy.
Juan Pierre has been a pleasant surprise this season and could be part of a package. Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick have a little value, too.
Carlos Ruiz is literally the only player I would want to keep. He is a rock behind the plate, among the top of the MLB in hitting, and should stay in Philadelphia.
Other than that, Amaro needs to make some major changes to turn around this franchise. The present is pretty bleak, but the future is even darker.