The Philadelphia Phillies are on a bit of a roll right now. Wednesday's comeback victory over the Milwaukee Brewers was their fourth consecutive victory, and has given Philadelphia fans a little bit of hope. The team is 7-3 in their last 10 games, with some exciting come-from-behind wins along the way.
But the team still sits nine games under .500 and 9.5 games out of the wild card, and their chances of making the playoffs this year are 0.3 percent, according to Baseball Prospectus. Don't let the streak get your hopes up, because the playoffs are simply out of reach at this point.
Ryan Howard's return has been very positive for the Phillies. He has four home runs, nine RBI and six walks in 13 games. Beyond his play on the field, his presence alone has clearly had a motivational effect on the team.
On Tuesday, the Phillies announced that they had agreed to a six-year extension with pitcher Cole Hamels worth $144 million. With that contract finalized, the Phillies will end up paying Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley about $104 million next season. The chances that any of those five get traded are very minimal.
Needless to say, the Phillies will most likely have to cut salary elsewhere. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Phillies are "eager" to move Hunter Pence and the $13 million to $14 million he is owed next year.
Pence and Shane Victorino are now the two most likely players to get moved with Hamels getting an extension. Lee is the most likely of the highest-paid five to be traded, but unless the Phillies are blown away with a deal, I doubt he leaves Philly.
But either Pence or Victorino will most likely be dealt. I believe that those two, along with Juan Pierre, Kyle Kendrick, Joe Blanton and Jimmy Rollins, should all be actively shopped by GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
Some people may balk at Rollins getting traded, but while he brings heart and effort to the team, he often forgets his bat. In his past three seasons, he has hit .250, .243 and .268. This season, he is hitting .254. He has only hit 33 home runs since 2010. He will be 34 in November, and his best seasons are far behind him.
Apart from Hamels, the Phillies best players are 35 (Halladay), 33 (Rollins, Utley and Lee) and 32 (Howard). Combine that with only one under-25 player on the active roster who has big-time potential (Vance Worley), and the future doesn't look too bright.
Add in the fact that the Phillies only have two prospects ranked in minorleagueball.com's top 120, and it makes the future look even less bright. Pitchers Jesse Biddle and Trevor May were ranked 54th and 56th, respectively, meaning that the Phillies don't have a single top-50 prospect either.
The Phillies didn't have a first-round pick in June's draft, and failed to sign one of their second-round picks, Alec Rash. The point is, while the MLB roster is getting older, there is not much help on the way.
Speaking of the MLB roster, Placido Polanco is only batting .255 and most likely will be playing somewhere else next season. The bullpen is currently in the hands of Antonio Bastardo, Michael Schwimer, Jacob Diekman and Joe Savery. John Mayberry Jr. has 12 more strikeouts than hits. Domonic Brown is nowhere to be found. Utley can't be counted on to play more than half a season for the rest of his career. Upgrades and depth are needed all over the place.
The farm system is in bad shape, the MLB roster isn't looking much better, and dealing players like Pence, Victorino, Pierre, Kendrick, Blanton and Rollins could bring in a few prospects while dumping salary. The team's window is closing, and will be hard to re-open in the future if deals are not made soon.
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