At the All-Star break, the Philadelphia Phillies find themselves in the basement of the NL East and 10 games back in the Wild Card, but there's still hope.
Unless you live under a rock, you know that Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino are likely trade candidates for the Phils—two Philly staples who helped the team win its second World Series title in 2008 after a 28 year drought.
Hamels, a three-time All-Star and former World Series MVP, has openly stated that he wants to remain in Philadelphia (via Philly.com), the city he's called home for the past six-and-a-half seasons.
Hamels' stellar 2012 numbers lead a staff that includes Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, with a 10-4 record, 3.20 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 118 Ks in 118 IP.
He's set to become a free agent after the 2012 season and if he reaches free agency, my guess is that he'll walk away from the Phillies for a better deal, which is why Philly needs to lock him up now.
If they trade him before the July 31 deadline, they'd probably receive prospects in return, which is a deal that doesn't really seem to be worth it to me.
As for Shane Victorino, you've got to love the intensity that he brings to the ballpark each day, but I think Philadelphia can survive without him and they may have to, as ESPN Insider (insider access required) suggests that the 31-year-old "Flyin' Hawaiian" could be heading to either the Los Angeles Dodgers or the Cincinnati Reds.
Victorino has been a run-scoring, base-stealing machine for the Phillies while providing speed and a solid glove in center field, something the squad would undoubtedly miss.
Sure, he's had a bit of a down season during the first half of this season, but look what Derek Jeter did last year. One has to think that the return of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to the lineup will benefit Victorino's game in the second half.
Still, the trade rumors are out there and being benched by manager Charlie Manuel (via Philly.com) didn't help his cause.
And on top of it all, Philly.com is reporting that the Phillies have thrown around the idea of dealing two-time All-Star and 2011 addition Hunter Pence.
If the rumors are true, Philly is all but throwing in the towel on the season, as Pence leads the team in home runs, RBI and hits.
What better way to ruin a team than to deal its best pitcher and best offensive producer in the same month for players who will not yield the type of talent these two (Hamels and Pence) already possess.
I understand many fans feel—and possibly even Ruben Amaro Jr. feels—that this season is lost, but with the addition of a second Wild Card, there's still a chance that Philadelphia can get back into this thing.
Cliff Lee recently earned his first win, when he went eight innings and allowed just two runs while fanning seven and Halladay will be returning from the DL soon.
If all goes well, the Phillies will get back to featuring a three-headed pitching monster at the front of its rotation in Halladay, Lee and Hamels and should see more production from the middle of the lineup with the returns of Utley and Howard.
So, hang in there Philly fans. There's still a whole half-season of baseball left to be played.
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