For a long time, the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline was the most exciting time of the year for fans of the Philadelphia Phillies. It was about making moves to get better for the future after accumulating an upwards of 10,000 losses.
After five straight division crowns, they're not excited about going backwards.
But there is optimism that the 2012 season is just a blip on the radar as opposed to a sign of things to come. The Phillies battled with injuries. They battled inconsistent performances. There's no shame in cashing in your chips and trying again next season, when the odds are better.
That all begins and ends on Tuesday afternoon, when the non-waiver trade deadline rounds into focus. On that day, it's time to separate the rumors from the facts, and there have been plenty of rumors.
Which Phillies will be moved for prospects or bullpen help? Will they move the usual suspects, or will Ruben Amaro Jr. pull a rabbit out of his hat?
Here are the odds of each member of the Phillies' roster being moved before 4 p.m. on July 31.
Antonio Bastardo's trade value has never been any lower after his struggles throughout the first half of the season, but that's one of just a few reasons that the Phillies won't trade him at the deadline.
Another is the fact that they expect him to be a mainstay in their bullpen for years to come. Though he has struggled, Bastardo is expected to return to form as the Phillies' set-up man, but even if he does not, he's too valuable to a thin bullpen to be moved.
The lefty stays.
Joe Blanton, on the other hand, is a guy that will likely be moved by the trade deadline.
Realistically speaking, the Phillies aren't going to climb back into this race, but even if they did, Blanton is a guy that they could move and replace internally with a guy like Tyler Cloyd.
With pitching at a premium this season after top-tier guys like Josh Johnson, Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, and James Shields are gone, Blanton is a quality back-of-the-rotation starter who could interest teams unwilling to move top prospects.
The Phillies, however, likely won't demand much more than salary relief.
If Jake Diekman could find the strike zone, he'd be having one of the best seasons out of any reliever to pitch for the Phillies this season not named Jonathan Papelbon.
Of course, Diekman is about $49.5 million cheaper than Papelbon, and that is the reason that he won't be going anywhere at the deadline.
The Phillies will likely be sellers, but they'll want to keep their young bullpen, including Diekman, intact moving forward.
I don't think the Phillies will wind up moving Mike Fontenot, but he is a guy that I could see some teams asking about.
Believe it or not, quality bench players are not easy to find, and Fontenot has been pretty good for the Phillies since being called up from Triple-A.
His defense has been questionable at times, but he's certainly capable of a spot start in a few different positions and has had good at-bats against right-handed pitchers.
He could help a contender with a weak bench down the stretch.
Roy Halladay isn't going anywhere.
He's in the midst of arguably his most disappointing season since having to go back to the minors early in his career, and his trade value is at an all-time low. He's under team control for what will likely be the next two seasons.
The Phillies won't be moving their ace. However, that is not to say that the Phillies won't move another starting pitcher.
You can expect Halladay to be on the mound on Opening Day 2013, though.
I think this one is pretty self-explanatory.
However, just in case it's not, I can think of about 144 million reasons, multiplied by about six years or so, that Cole Hamels won't be going anywhere at the trade deadline.
When the Phillies and Cincinnati Reds matched up on a deal over the offseason to swap Jeremy Horst and Wilson Valdez, I really didn't think that either side would wind up a "winner," but Valdez's sub-.600 OPS is sure making the Phillies look pretty smart.
Meanwhile, Horst has been excellent for the Phillies. In 10 innings, he's struck out 12, walked three and allowed one earned run.
He could be expendable if teams come calling, but they probably won't, and the Phillies will continue to give Horst a look to figure out what he can contribute in the future.
Ryan Howard may have the worst trade value of any player on this roster.
First and foremost, he's still recovering from one of the game's most serious injuries, especially for a power hitter—a torn Achilles tendon. Related to that factoid, we still don't know just what Howard can do in the future.
He also has one of the worst contracts in the game right now, and few teams in the game could absorb that amount of money.
The Los Angeles Dodgers probably could afford it, but even they wouldn't want to make this kind of deal. Now that's saying something.
The Phillies have to be absolutely thrilled about Kyle Kendrick's recent scoreless streak, not because he's pitching well for them, but because it is a great audition for teams looking to add a versatile pitcher.
Kendrick could appeal to teams in a couple of ways. If you look at him as a starting pitcher, he's a cheap, back-of-the-rotation option. There's value in that.
But teams have to be looking at his recent scoreless streak and thinking about making a run at him to pitch in that role, and the Phillies would part with him for something as simple as salary relief.
Even with that being said, I don't think it is overly likely that Kendrick will move, but there's a good chance.
Teams don't often come calling about backup catchers at the trade deadline, but contenders have to have taken notice of Erik Kratz's recent hot streak at the plate.
Not only could he be a valuable insurance plan for the stretch run, but Kratz has more than proven that he can be a cheap, quality right-handed bat off of the bench.
Granted, any deal for the catcher is extremely unlikely, but I could certainly envision teams calling about him.
I wouldn't necessarily say that the chances of Cliff Lee being traded at the deadline are "good," but they're definitely not non-existent.
The popular speculation at the moment is that the Phillies want to keep their "big three" of starting pitchers (Lee, Roy Halladay, and Cole Hamels) together for the 2013 season. That makes sense. That could be their best chance of competing.
However, the Phillies could also deal from their surplus of elite pitching to land a few pieces that could be crucial for next season.
Take, just for example, the Texas Rangers, a team known to be interested in starting pitching. Lee could be the guy at the top of their wishlist because he is under team control and a proven ace.
Would they be willing to part with some, or all of, Mike Olt, Leonys Martin and Martin Perez?
If some team threw a huge offer at the Phillies that helped them plug multiple holes for 2013, how would they be able to seriously turn that offer down knowing that their starting rotation, in all likelihood, would be okay without Lee?
The chances aren't good, but I like them.
John Mayberry Jr. probably isn't going anywhere.
The greatest thing that he has going for him right now is that right-handed power potential that he just hasn't been able to tap into with any kind of consistency.
He's out of options and, at the moment, is the Phillies' only legitimate, right-handed power threat on the bench that doesn't also serve as the backup catcher.
I could imagine a scenario where a team that has their own unfavorable, out-of-options player that would like to swing a deal in a "change of scenery" type of deal, but those odds are slim.
Laynce Nix: Valuable asset for the Phillies next season or trade bait in 2012?
I'm leaning towards the former right now.
Nix has spent most of the regular season on the disabled list with a serious calf strain and hasn't had much time to showcase his talent for interested teams at the trade deadline. Any contender looking to take a risk is assuming that the left-handed power is going to be there.
He's the type of guy that could be valuable to contending teams down the stretch for that reason. Nix isn't going to kill you in left field or at first base and handles right-handed pitching well.
But in spite of that, I think the Phillies will hold on to Nix. He's under team control next season for cheap, and the Phillies have more questions than answers right now.
Jonathan Papelbon isn't going anywhere.
The Phillies kind of made that statement over the offseason when they signed him to the richest contract for any reliever in the history of baseball.
Add that to the fact that July hasn't been the best month of the season for Papelbon, and it shouldn't be hard to envision him pitching for the Phillies on August 1 and beyond.
Who can take on that contract? (Yeah, I know. The Los Angeles Dodgers can. But let's be real here.)
Hunter Pence could very well be playing for another team following the trade deadline.
A right-handed hitter with pop, he's one of the few hitters on the market worth making a big splash for. Pence is under team control for the 2013 season and, from a power perspective, having the best season of his career.
The biggest deterrent for most teams is going to be the salary issue. He's due another year of arbitration in the offseason, and the Phillies, or any team that acquires him, are going to have to buck up a pretty penny to keep him.
The Phillies won't let him go cheaply, either. After surrendering Jonathan Singleton, Jared Cosart and Domingo Santana to get him, they'll want at least one top prospect.
The chances of Juan Pierre playing for the Phillies following the deadline are certainly slim.
In a perfect season, I'm sure the Phillies would love to keep the speedy left-fielder around. He's cheap for the rest of the season and has been very productive.
Of course, that's also the reason that the Phillies are looking to move him at the trade deadline and capitalize on his value.
Any team looking for a left fielder, left-handed hitter or a bit of speed off of the bench could realistically be in the mix for Pierre.
Placido Polanco is on the disabled list, so he actually can't be traded before the July 31 trade deadline. The chances of that happening are zero—the only goose egg on this list.
Now, Polanco being traded during the August waiver period is an entirely different story.
Given his contract, age and injury history, Polanco is a guy that would almost certainly clear waivers in August. Even if he doesn't, the Phillies would be happy to dump his contract on any team bold enough to make a claim for him.
If I had to pick one guy most likely to be traded in August, it's Polanco.
The Phillies probably won't be making many "minor" moves at the trade deadline because they fully intend to compete in 2013 and, if 2012 is any indication, will need all of the help they can get. You can count Joe Savery amongst that help.
When you look at the left-handed pitcher's splits, he hasn't been nearly as bad as the overall numbers show. Lefties are hitting just .220 against him, and he hasn't walked a single left-handed batter all season.
The Phillies' best step may be finding a manager and pitching coach capable of using pitchers like Savery in the correct manner.
Mike Schwimer is another guy the Phillies could be counting on big time in 2013.
As things stand right now, he's arguably the best right-handed reliever in the Phillies' bullpen not named Jonathan Papelbon. With Mike Stutes recovering from exploratory shoulder surgery and David Herndon recovering from Tommy John surgery, there will certainly be questions moving forward.
As the season has progressed, Schwimer has made noticeable progress and, in all likelihood, will become a major part of the Phillies' bullpen over the next several seasons.
Jimmy Rollins is the kind of under-the-radar player that could be moved at the trade deadline.
Shortstops are at a premium this time of year, and there is a case to be made that the Phillies have two shortstops capable of playing at the MLB level in Rollins and Freddy Galvis.
Of course, the Phillies would be taking a chance in moving Rollins because Galvis, in all likelihood, is done for the year after suffering a Pars fracture of the spine earlier in the season.
Assuming that he makes a full recovery, the Phillies would also be taking a shot at Galvis' offense improving in his sophomore season. While Rollins' 94 wRC+ isn't dreadful, it is certainly replaceable.
Defensively, there probably isn't a significant difference.
Carlos Ruiz is the biggest bargain on the Phillies' roster (and payroll), and he isn't going anywhere.
The Phillies, who will likely pick up the catcher's $5 million option, will hope that Ruiz can have the same kind of success that he's having in 2012, but realistically, that's not very likely.
Instead, the Phillies will be happy with Ruiz so long as he continues to be an excellent defensive asset, something that they expected when he signed that contract back in 2010. Any offense he provides is an added bonus.
If Chase Utley's knee problems aren't enough to scare potential interested teams off, the fact that he'll be making $15 million in 2013 probably will.
Of course, the Phillies wouldn't trade Utley anyway.
First and foremost, the replacement would be Freddy Galvis, and the Phillies aren't in a position where they can make that leap. It's a significant drop-off.
Utley is also one of the club's leaders in the clubhouse and on the field. Trading him signals a rebuilding mode, and the Phillies aren't rebuilding.
I would be extremely surprised if the Phillies held on to Shane Victorino through the trade deadline.
He's one of the most moveable pieces on the roster insofar as that he is not overly expensive and his contract will expire at the end of the season.
Center fielders seem to be at a premium and Victorino is certainly the best one on the trade market. While some believe they could potentially hang on to him, I think it is much, much more likely that they deal Victorino for either a controllable, high-ceiling reliever or a prospect on the doorstep of the MLB.
Ty Wigginton would help a contender, but not by much.
If he's shown anything throughout the first half of the season, it's that he's not the utility player that the Phillies thought he was. When they acquired him from the Colorado Rockies, the outfield was removed from the equation, then second base.
Wigginton became a first baseman and a third baseman, and he's made playing third base look extremely difficult as of late. It's difficult, but not that difficult.
So any contender that takes a shot on Wigginton is going to be looking to upgrade their bench. He won't play the field much but can help out at the plate from time to time.
The Phillies may not want to move him with Placido Polanco on the disabled list, but with Kevin Frandsen in the MLB, that shouldn't stop them.
I can almost see the Phillies dangling Vance Worley to clubs to see if someone takes the bait and throws a huge offer at them, kind of in the same way that the Seattle Mariners dangled Michael Pineda last off-season, but ultimately, they won't deal him.
They just can't right now. You don't know what you're getting out of Roy Halladay moving forward. Joe Blanton will be a free agent. Cole Hamels is here to stay, but is Cliff Lee?
Worley is young, controllable and cheap. Those three aspects of his game will keep him with the Phillies for quite a while, especially if they can't move a major contract.