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Why Roy Halladay's Injury Will Be Phillies' Final Blow to a 2012 NL East Chase

Ely Sussman@@MrElyminatorCorrespondent IMay 30, 2012

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Phillies (26-25) are no longer contenders in the NL East after learning that Roy Halladay will miss 6-8 weeks with a strained right latissimus dorsi.

Halladay leads the National League in wins (44), innings pitched (556.2) and complete games (17) since being traded from the Toronto Blue Jays prior to the 2010 season. It will be impossible to replace that lost production.

Re-signing 34-year-old Roy Oswalt would have been a major consolation. However, that opportunity passed when he officially agreed to a one-year contract with the Texas Rangers on Tuesday.

Conveniently, second-year stud Vance Worley feels pain-free as he recovers from elbow inflammation. Still, his return won't be enough to salvage the club's dwindling playoffs hopes.

Minus Halladay, Kyle Kendrick becomes a fixture on the starting staff. Fans shouldn't be too excited about his recent performance. A lack of swing-and-miss stuff won't allow him to keep dominating.

Manager Charlie Manuel simply doesn't have enough offensive talent on the active roster to support the weakened five-man rotation.

Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino are carrying their own weight. Carlos Ruiz (.366/.419/.592) is carrying everyone else's.

Let's be realistic, though—"Chooch" will inevitably cool off. Moreover, the wear and tear of catching prevents him from contributing every night. The Phillies are 3-5 when he's absent from the lineup.

Ryan Howard (Achilles) and Chase Utley (knees) could be valuable reinforcements, but according to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, "there is no timetable for their returns." It can't be assumed that either will be in pre-injury form upon activation from the disabled list.

Aside from a six-game winning streak in mid-May, the Phillies have been inconsistent, especially against divisional opponents. Following Tuesday night's 6-3 loss to the New York Mets, their record in the NL East stands at a mediocre 8-12. And all four rivals—the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, Mets and Washington Nationals—are poised to remain in contention.

They cannot afford to continue struggling in those matchups. There are another 52 of them left on the schedule!

To prove my prediction false, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would need to acquire legitimate players from other franchises. Presumably, this would be achieved by taking on salary from cellar-dwellers who are looking to cut costs.

Already with the NL's largest payroll, the front office doesn't have the expendable resources to consummate such deals. No group of attainable individuals matches Halladay's value, anyway.

With this discouraging news, the Philadelphia Phillies should shift their focus to the future.

Cole Hamels ought to be dealt in the coming weeks lest he depart in free agency and deprive the team of the MLB-ready compensation a desperate team might offer. Bringing Howard and Utley along slowly will have them better prepared for 2013.

As of May 29, I'm sticking the proverbial fork in their 2012 season.

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