The Philadelphia Phillies are dealing with injuries to top players, are finally back to being a .500 team and have to make tough decisions about being buyers or sellers come July 31. Oh, and they just got done playing three extra inning games, a total of 34 innings, in just over 24 hours.
If any team was ever in need of a few days, both mentally and physically, it would be the Phillies.
So for the players not named Domonic Brown or Cliff Lee, who will be representing the NL in the Midsummer Classic, the All-Star break could not have come at a better time. And for Ruben Amaro and the rest of the organization’s top advisers, while they may not get the rest the players will have, the break gives them time.
Time to contemplate decisions such as who and through which method will the team use to replace Ben Revere who is out for a while with a broken ankle.
At this time, promoting someone from the minor leagues seems highly unlikely. In fact, center fielders and outfielders in general, are a position of which the Phillies lack depth. Therefore it seems Amaro might turn to the trade market. That is, if he plans on the Phillies being contenders.
Which brings me to a more important — perhaps the most important — question of all, that being this: Does the organization expect the team to contend for a playoff spot in 2013?
The answer to this question will reveal the most important decisions the team prepares to make. Because if the Phillies decide to be buyers, finding a short-term replacement for Revere becomes a priority. Finding anybody that can sure up the bull pen, preferably for the late innings, becomes a necessity.
Of course in order to do this, the Phillies might have to make some tough trades. The mantra of this team going forward seems to be to keep the prospects and trade some of the veteran players. Especially now, that could make a lot of sense. And perhaps, it will become less about how much the team can get in return and more about rather what the team can get in return.
Michael Young‘s name was linked to the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees and Chase Utley‘s to the LA Dodgers, but would either team be willing to give up a top bullpen arm to get their guy? Or would the Phillies focus on keeping Young and Utley, as two very important pieces of any sort of improbable championship run?
Again, these are the questions Amaro will have to answer over the break.
He will consider all of the facts, no doubt. He will look at the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals, both of which are driven by a strong and successful bull pen. Realistically without that, can the Phillies contend with their division rivals? There is also the consideration of a whopping 13 games remaining against the Braves and nine against the Nationals. Those numbers mean the Phillies, despite being 6.5 games back, are very, very much alive.
Do they have the offense to compete with those two teams though? Or will the Phillies need to make sure Revere’s replacement is somewhat of a power hitter?
As the team stands now, they aren’t quite contenders, but if Amaro does buy, all of that could change. After all, the Phillies are hot right now and under Charlie Manuel are notoriously known as a much better second half team. Injuries could cause some problems but with rest and the finally showing fight and determination, the Phillies should be more than ready to put up a fight for a spot in the postseason.