Philadelphia Phillies: The Inevitable End Has Almost Arrived

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Papelbon should be paid by a true contender this season

Papelbon should be paid by a true contender this season
Howard Smith–USA TODAY Sports

At this time two years ago the Philadelphia Phillies were 50-30, having just shutout the Boston Red Sox 5-0 at Citizens Bank Park. Charlie Manuel's landmark squad went on to set the franchise record for regular season wins (102) in 2011.

However, the Phillies hit the skids before the playoffs got under way. They lost eight games in a row from September 18 through September 24 and were only able to reach that milestone victory mark due to a four-game win streak that ended the regular season.

Hardcore fans put that erratic finish behind them when the Phillies took a 2-1 series lead in the National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. But, that specific playoff win on October 4, 2011 became the final postseason victory in a five-year playoff run, as Tony LaRussa's team came back to take the final two games.

General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. may not have known that quick fall dance served to end the Phillies' second 'Golden Era', but it sure looks that way now.

The opinions of prickly old school loyalists, or those of new school sabermetric punks, don't definitively confirm when anything is 'over'. But, both baseball fans realize that times have changed and that the seemingly inevitable conclusion of a nice ride is about to arrive by any reasonable account.

Follow Sean on Twitter @SeanyOB, Facebook, Google+ and read his blog Insight.

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Delmon Young can be exchanged for someone else

Delmon Young can be exchanged for someone else
Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Delmon Young was an inexpensive stop-gap option in right field this year. No true contender signed him because better options were available.

While his overall performance hasn't been horrid, it seems hard to imagine his 2013 appearance extending past the trade deadline.

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Michael Young won't be seen in 2014

Michael Young won't be seen in 2014
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Young was an iconic American League star. This true team player didn't cost a lot and has offered a steady, though not overly productive, bat to this season's lineup. Meanwhile, his third base glove continues to be limited by middle-age range.

This able veteran could easily return to the Junior Circuit before the end of this season.

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Utley's retention is overly wrought with risk

Utley's retention is overly wrought with risk
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Utley was generally healthy for 83 games last season and performed like his old self as the final months of the season played out. A new injury (non-knee related) appeared this year and while modest (an oblique strain) it served to remind everyone that number 26 isn't a kid anymore.

The potential of trading one of the faces of this franchise was never considered between 2007-2011. But, those times are gone and today's set of circumstances enables the real possibility that Utley will be dealt before his contract ends later this year.

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How much time does Ruiz really have left?

How much time does Ruiz really have left?
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Ruiz was fully integrated into this great Philadelphia Phillies' era. Now, with just months left on his current deal, it's reasonable to think that his financial arrangement could be extended by a few years, or that he could be working behind the plate for another team sometime this summer.

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Manuel's link to this era will never be broken

Manuel's link to this era will never be broken
Christopher Hanewinckle-USA TODAY Sports

Charlie Manuel's departure after, or possibly at some point during, this season is likely. Similar to a player who's had a good run, circumstances and a shift in organizational direction appear to be creating the call for a new day to begin.

Ryne Sandberg surely looks like the heir apparent, whether his original baseball employer wants to acknowledge that, or not.

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