The Philadelphia Phillies are stuck in traffic on the Schuylkill Expressway and as all locals know, they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. is driving this red Rolls-Royce limousine, so he knows exactly what must be done. The question is, will he do it?
Heading through a second straight year of almost certain non-playoff action, it’s quite clear that a serious roster overhaul must take place.
Last season’s trade deadline efforts were worthwhile. But, there’s still much roster work to be done in order to renew legitimate playoff goals.
Michael Young should be traded, while his namesake Delmon Young should be released. Their low-risk infielder could fit somewhere back in the American League as a designated hitter. As for their outfield flier, he simply hasn’t clicked and it’s time for him to move on.
Jonathan Papelbon must be dealt as soon as possible. A high-priced stopper on a non-contender doesn’t make sense. A much cheaper veteran option can be obtained in the off-season to help support the many young arms that the Phillies employ in their bullpen.
Chase Utley is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, while Jimmy Rollins has another year left on his own deal.
Number 26 should be dealt because it’s hard to imagine this aging veteran’s body being able to survive until this team is strong again. Utley will always be a franchise icon and his heart is still in the game, but reality is what it is and he might be able to draw a decent prospect from a contender sometime this summer.
Rollins knows that he’s ‘J-Roll’ no more. While still a good glove man, his best offensive days are behind him. With one more year remaining on his contract, a decent return for his future services could be had.
Cliff Lee has massive trade value. But dealing him is a risk that would weaken the starting rotation. This call is the toughest of all personnel decisions that Amaro must make, both for strategic and for public relations-based reasons.
Carlos Ruiz, whose contract expires this season, should be retained because of his defensive value. Promising prospect Tommy Joseph’s concussion issues might prevent a ‘Chooch’ trade, unless another first-rate major league-ready receiver can be obtained.
Ryan Howard might not be fully healthy, but at least he’s hitting more consistently as of late. A gigantic piece like Cole Hamels and a trade partner like the Los Angeles Dodgers circa last season would have to be willing to take some of Howard’s contract in order for the team to move the ‘Big Piece’ right now. That’s hardly a realistic scenario. So, he seems highly likely to stay in place at first base.
Roy Halladay’s dominant career might be over, but his playing days could continue. He has no trade value, but could remain with the Phillies next season if he’s willing to accept a heavy incentive-laden deal. That does assume that Amaro will make such an offer, which is hardly certain.
Finally, when it comes to Charlie Manuel, it would be nice to see an honorable exit strategy for a likable man who deserves credit for managing all of the personalities who created the Phillies’ second ‘Golden Era’. Hopefully the skipper is offered and accepts a position within the organization when this regular season ends.
As of now, this baseball highway reconstruction project looks like it might be completed by 2015. As to whether Amaro will still be driving at that point is another topic for another digital day.