From 2007-2011, the Philadelphia Phillies were not just a National League powerhouse, but the Phillies were one of the best teams in MLB. Five division titles, two World Series appearances, and of course, the 2008 World Series title were just some of the highlights of that glorious period.
However, over the last three seasons, the Phillies have played poorly and their championship core is much older now. With little chance at making the playoffs this season and the trade deadline quickly approaching, it may be time for the Phillies to make some serious changes and begin rebuilding for the future.
The Phillies have several veteran players who have generated serious interest among contenders in recent weeks. The first player who comes to mind is All-Star second baseman Chase Utley. After missing most of the last few seasons due to injury and considered by many to have been washed up, Utley has put together a fantastic 2014 season.
As a result, many contenders in need of a second baseman have called the Phillies about Utley’s availability. Despite Utley’s high value and what the Phillies could get in return for the All-Star, it is unclear whether or not Utley will be traded. Utley has expressed his desire to remain a Phillie, but the veteran would bring a great bat, good fielding, and terrific clubhouse leadership to a contender.
The two aces of the Phillies’ pitching staff, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, have also been the subject of trade speculation recently. According to reports, the Boston Red Sox called about Hamels’ services but the Phillies informed Boston that Hamels is not available at the trade deadline. Whether Hamels is on the trading block or not, the Phillies could get some nice young talent for the lefty. Hamels’ last start only raised his trade value, as he shut out the San Francisco Giants over eight innings this past Thursday. However, Hamels has spoken little to the media about possibly being traded.
On the other hand, Lee has publicly acknowledged that changes need to be made in Philadelphia now. Lee has also apparently given the Phillies a list of several teams that he can be traded to without his approval, which includes the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians. However, since Lee has spent most of the season on the disabled list and his first start back was not great, Lee’s trade value is not as high as it could be. Nevertheless, both Hamels and Lee would be excellent veteran additions to any contender’s pitching staff because both guys know what it takes to win in the postseason.
Two other Phillies’ pitchers who could get traded are A.J. Burnett and closer Jonathan Papelbon. Burnett has pitched well as of late and the veteran righty has received interest from contenders such as the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates.
As for Papelbon, Phillies fans would be thrilled to see him go since Papelbon has not hidden his disgust for playing on a struggling team. Over the last two seasons, Papelbon has expressed his hopes to play for a contender and his trade value could not be much higher right now.
Papelbon has had a great 2014 season and several teams, such as the Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Dodgers, have explored the possibility of acquiring the veteran closer. For any contender, the easiest area to improve is the bullpen and Papelbon would put any contender’s bullpen over the top in the postseason. It seems that Papelbon is the Phillie who is most likely to be traded by the deadline.
Finally, two other veteran hitters who could be dealt to contenders are shortstop Jimmy Rollins and outfielder Marlon Byrd. Rollins has no interest in being traded, but he has stated that he would accept a trade if the Phillies decide to rebuild the roster. Byrd, who is having a great season, has generated some interest among teams in need of outfield help and a little extra offense in the lineup.
This next week will decide the direction of the Phillies going forward into the future. Even though it would be very hard to say goodbye to these great players, now may be the time for the Philadelphia Phillies to start getting younger because the championship window is just about closed.