Plenty of ‘Ifs’ Ahead for Phillies
The Phillies could have traded just about anybody from their 25-man roster before yesterday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline, but they kept everybody. Michael Young, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, Carlos Ruiz, Delmon Young … they’re all still here. Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday they didn’t get “anything that was satisfactory. Nothing we thought was going to improve us. So we decided not to do anything.” Amaro said he did not want to give away his players for nothing in return, so he kept them. (CBSSports.com reported the Phillies weren’t interested in shipping Young and Ruiz to the Yankees.) The Phillies can still trade these players before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline, so maybe sometime between now and then they will get something more satisfactory in return. Remember, they made a waiver trade with Joe Blanton last year. They also acquired Jamie Moyer, Matt Stairs, Jeff Conine, Jose Hernandez, etc., on waiver trades in the past.
Maybe the Phillies will deal somebody after all.
But at this very moment it looks like the Phillies will be carrying the same mantra into 2014 as they carried into 2013.
If, if, if, if, if, if, if …
If Ryan Howard is healthy and produces like a $125 million cleanup hitter … if Utley’s knees can stay healthy another year … if Jimmy Rollins can bounce back from the lowest OPS of his career … if Cody Asche is the answer at third base … if Darin Ruf can hit big-league pitching on an everyday basis … if Ben Revere can repeat his success the last couple months before he got hurt … if Domonic Brown can replicate his first full season in the big leagues … if they can find somebody to replace Ruiz (I can’t see the Phillies bringing him back) … if Papelbon’s declining velocity is no big deal … if they can rebuild the bullpen … if Miguel Gonazlez really is a middle-of-the-rotation starter … if they can build a better bench and improve their depth at Triple-A (they should be able to find somebody somewhere better than Michael Martinez if they can’t develop a player better than him) … if those things happen then the Phillies have a chance at competing for a spot in the postseason.
It is a sobering thought.
Basically, the team goes into 2014 feeling pretty good about its starting rotation with Cole Hamels, Lee, Kyle Kendrick, Gonzalez and maybe Roy Halladay, depending on how he pitches later this season and his desire to remain in Philadelphia. Everything else is a crap shoot.
“My job is to put ourselves in a position to have a lot less holes,” said Amaro, when asked about the ifs with this team. “We have a lot of time to do that. Our job is to be a contender every year. That is what my job is — to make sure the Philadelphia Phillies are contending for a championship every year. We’re not contending right now. We aren’t completely out of it, but we aren’t in the position I’d like us to be in, clearly. I have to think about 2014, and when I think about 2014, I don’t think about coming in second or third or fourth place. I think about trying to win our division and trying to put us in a position to do that. Whether we can do that with younger players or older players or experienced players, that remains to be seen. That’s part of our job, to design the club so that we can be a better club and contending club.”
How Amaro plans to accomplish is a mystery.