5 Bold Predictions for the Philadelphia Phillies' 2nd Half of the Season
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Five predictions likely to come true for this Phillies team would be pretty easy to make.
According to online betting site Bovada (which we purposely do not link to), the Phillies' odds to win the World Series have plummeted from the preseason level of 16-1 to 66-1.
With the writing so clearly scrawled on so many walls, the Phillies are almost certainly going to move some veterans at the trade deadline and bring some kids up for the last couple months of the season.
Those are not bold predictions.
Personally, predictions are not my favorite assignment anyway, since if predictions were a strength for me my living could just come from gambling instead of, you know, work.
As such, the following predictions are, admittedly, quite unlikely to happen as written.
But there is just enough truth in each of them to make them viable, at least for the purposes of discussion.
5. Cole Hamels Will End the Season on the 60-Day Disabled List
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To call Cole Hamels a mess right now is to do a disservice to messes everywhere.
You know all of the ugly numbers already, but for the uninitiated here they are: Hamels is 2-11 with an earned run average over four and a half and a WHIP of 1.30.
The safe prediction here would be that he sort of rights the ship the rest of the way and finishes something like 8-14 with an ERA under four and a WHIP closer to 1.25.
The bold prediction, then, is this: something is really wrong with Hamels, either physically or psychologically, and whatever that something is will bubble to the surface well before Labor Day, forcing the Phillies to put their marquee lefthanded starter on long-term ice long before the season ends.
Again, is it likely? No.
Bold is what we aim for.
4. Jimmy Rollins Is Traded and Blasts the Phillies and Their Fans as He Goes
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As the remnants of the 2008 World Champion Phillies cling to the bowl, much of the rhetoric surrounding the need to trade veterans for prospects touches on how the fans don't want career Phillies like Jimmy Rollins to go.
Let me break some bad news to you: if you care one whit whether Rollins finishes his career in Philadelphia, that is one whit more than Rollins cares.
Right, so far he has not come out and said that he does not want to play all his games in Philadelphia. Because what would be the point in doing that?
But it does not take a behavioral psychologist to parse Rollins' comments and actions over the years and reach the conclusion that Rollins really only cares about one thing: himself.
How do you know? After years of occasionally calling fans out for not supporting the team enough and showing up late to games, Rollins is just fine with the present team's plight, even after spitting up three out of four games in Los Angeles over the weekend. (H/T Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News).
The safe prediction here is that Rollins stays or, if he is traded, that he takes out a one-page advertisement in the Philadelphia Inquirer to thank all his fans for all the good times.
I'm going the other way.
I think Rollins will be traded, and I think he will fill plenty of newspaper columns with quotes like "they never realized what they had in me" and "it will be a pleasure to play in a market where fans appreciate good baseball" and "like Satchel Paige said, never look over your shoulder."
When Rollins leaves, he'll leave noisy.
3. Chase Utley Is Traded and Says Nothing as He Goes
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Whatever sting Phillies fans would feel at seeing Jimmy Rollins leave town, it will be a flesh wound compared to the gut shot they will take whenever Chase Utley goes.
Phillies fans largely like and respect Rollins, despite the frustration they feel at all the times they see him popping up the first pitch.
But they have no caveats when it comes to their love for Utley.
So it is going to be a devastating day in Philadelphia when Utley is moved to a contender this summer.
Worse yet, though, will be the deafening silence that will come from Utley when the deal is announced.
No ad in the newspaper, no press conference, no tribute to all those fans in their 26 jerseys.
Utley will pack his gear and go without as much as saying goodbye.
For Phillies fans, that will be the unkindest cut of all.
2. Domonic Brown Starts Making Unsettling Noises About His Contract
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Cliff Lee's excellent performance has been one of two bright spots for the Phillies this season. You cannot say it was unexpected; Lee is a highly paid mercenary who is really good at what he does.
Domonic Brown's breakout season has been the other bright spot. You can absolutely say Brown's power surge was unexpected, as he spent parts of the past few seasons struggling just to stay on the major league roster.
Call Brown anything you want, but don't call him a highly paid mercenary.
Brown is under the Phillies' control without much chance for added compensation through 2014. To be fair, that is partly his own fault, as he just did not accumulate enough major league service time to move the clock faster.
Even so, a blossoming slugger who is about to become the face of his franchise, represented by uber shark Scott Boras, cannot be too thrilled to be carrying the offense for half a million dollars while Ryan Howard makes the gross national product of a third world nation and is much less valuable than Brown.
Before the year is over, Brown might be heard to bring this disparity up.
Could you blame him?
1. Charlie Manuel Resigns Before Labor Day
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Charlie Manuel's job status has been in jeopardy and the subject of wide speculation ever since the Phillies brought Ryne Sandberg up from Lehigh Valley in the International League and put him on Manuel's staff.
Conventional wisdom with regard to Manuel this season was that, failing a playoff appearance, the Phillies would not renew Manuel's contract (set to expire at year's end).
Further, Manuel's stubborn insistence that his club can contend—until recently, that is—has led many to believe that Manuel would finish out his managerial term no matter what the Phillies' record unless the team fires him.
But what if Manuel decides not to wait for the guillotine blade to claim his head?
What if Manuel looks up on, say, August 13, sees the Phillies 15 games out of first place and 11 games out of a wild card slot, with many of his veterans traded for prospects and the remaining veterans again marking days off the calendar, and says "the hell with it."
Part of the perceived need for Manuel not to quit is to protect his viability as a candidate for another job down the line. If he sees out the season and his contract is not renewed, he can make himself available for other jobs with no questions about why he left Philadelphia.
Here's the thing, though. Manuel will be 70 in January. The market for him this offseason is going to be limited given his age and the way things fell apart in Philadelphia at the end of his tenure.
That, and his failure to get great Phillies teams in 2010 and 2011 back to the World Series.
The end may be coming for Manuel. Maybe he will decide to write the last lines himself.