Phillies Trade Rumors: Buy? Sell? Philadelphia Looks Confused as Deadline Looms

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Phillies Trade Rumors: Buy? Sell? Philadelphia Looks Confused as Deadline Looms
Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Shane Victorino debating his future

In the days leading up to the MLB trade deadline, the Philadelphia Phillies find themselves in an unfamiliar position.

Perhaps.

With a 45-54 record, after Wednesday's contest with the Brewers ended with a dramatic extra-innings win, the Phillies are in last place in the National League East.

Granted, this team played the majority of the first half of 2012 without many of their main pieces. Ryan Howard is finally healthy following the Achilles injury he suffered in his last at bat of 2011, and Chase Utley appears to be back on track as well after numerous knee problems.

The powerful bats of Howard and Utley, however, are greatly overshadowed by the unfathomable seasons that Cliff Lee and Shane Victorino are having.

Lee, who won 29 games over the previous two seasons, has one victory in 2012. The former Cy Young Award winner, now 33, has already allowed 15 home runs in his first 17 starts this year. As a result, he is on pace to nearly match his career high in that category.

Victorino, a career .276 hitter, has been well under that mark in 2012. He is an impending free agent, and the Phillies need to offer him a contract extension or trade him before the deadline. If the "Flyin' Hawaiian" hits the open market this offseason, chances are that a plethora of teams will be very interested in adding the switch-hitting, speedy outfielder. 

So, are the Phillies in full-blown sell mode while being in last place in the East?

One would think so. Except for the Phillies front office it appears; they signed Cole Hamels to a six-year contract extension this week.

With Hamels, Lee and Roy Halladay anchoring the rotation, and the returning power that both Howard and Utley bring back to the lineup, (which up until now had been almost magically carried by Carlos Ruiz), on paper the Phillies ought to be contenders.

With all of these pieces finally falling into place in late July however, one must wonder if it's too little, too late for the Fightin' Phils to claw their way all the way back into the pennant race.

What do you think? Should the Phillies bite the bullet and sell? Trade Victorino? Trade Hunter Pence or Jimmy Rollins with hopes of securing some great young talent?

With all of these questions, the larger one looms if the Phillies are not sellers—Can the Phillies build around Cole Hamels while stripping down the team around him? It should be quite the intriguing week for the Phillies phanatics nationwide. 

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