Should the Philadelphia Phillies Hold a Fire Sale?
We've gotten used to the Fightins' fighting for first place every year for a while now. But as the All-Star break approaches, they're in dead last.
Editor's Note: This is the debut of a weekly sports column that will focus on professional sports and the four main Philadelphia teams.
If you're Ruben Amaro, July is a great month.
Usually, the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies is sitting pretty, his team in first place and the time nearing when Amaro gets to play "Let's Make A Deal" to bolster the roster for the annual playoff run.
This season, though, Amaro should be humming The Clash song, "Should (They) Stay or Should (They) Go."
The Phils are in dead last in the NL East. And with the trading deadline coming up at the end of the month, Amaro needs to determine if the Phillies are buyers or sellers this year.
He needs to decide if this team's deep playoff run of the past few years, which has led to a World Series victory, a few pennants and numerous NL East titles, is over.
He needs to make the decision that it's time to rebuild this team and retool it for the future.
First off, the Phils have a great nucleus that will make them competitive for years to come: You've got Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay and Jonathan Papelbon.
With Utley back in the lineup and Howard and Halladay returning shortly from injury, will the Phils have enough firepower to get them over the hump and maybe grab a Wild Card berth.
You'll know if Amaro deals ace Cole Hamels, who is a free agent at the end of the year, then you know what direction the Phillies are heading in.
To sign Hamels, with all the money already devoted to Halladay and Cliff Lee, would basically tie up $80 million of the roster each year.
We've seen how great the pitching can be. But, when you get no run support, than your record resembles one like Lee, who just won his first game of the year the other day.
But it might be time to try to unload Lee. And maybe get rid of Shane Victorino, who is also a free agent at the end of the year. If someone can make great offers for Placido Polanco and Hunter Pence, then why not shed some payroll. And Ty Wigginton would be a great addition for someone's bench.
So the Phils can make some moves.
A decision needs to be made on whether we should chalk up this season for what it is -- a bad year.
You can't win every year. And the Phillies may have suffered a bump in the road this year like the Philadelphia Eagles did last year.
So Amaro has some major decisions to make.
If Hamels is a goner, then the season is over. But with a healthy Utley and a returning Howard and Halladay, maybe there's still a little hope left.
The second season resumes right after the All-Star break. Should be an interesting one for the Phillies.