Let’s be honest. How many Phillies fans are satisfied with the direction of the franchise right now? Not simply optimistic, but confident, encouraged, reassured. I’ll wait ... Exactly what I thought, not many.
There is no feeling of “We’ve got this under control” emanating from Ruben Amaro Jr. and the front office and particularly not from the product on the field. The players seem apathetic or, better put, lack a sense of urgency. Maybe they’re just a collection of underachievers and guys past their prime. With the season waning and the team sinking further into the division basement, what is the Phillies next move? Where do they go from here?
All signs point to the Phillies selling everything at the trade deadline except the pine tar and bat boy. At least they should. But who should go and why? According to numerous reports, the Phillies have landed a Cuban starting pitcher for the richest contract ever given to an international player. Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is a 26-year-old right-hander who could pitch this season, if reports are true. Amaro must have visions of pairing Gonzalez with Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. After all, he does like a stacked pitching rotation.
Everyone else from the IronPigs, I mean Phillies bullpen, and every other starting pitcher is expendable. I would, on the other hand, bring back Roy Halladay with an incentive-laden deal. He has a work ethic which rivals Paul Bunyan and accepts accountability like a government informant taking a plea deal.
And then there are the position players. We really don’t need to be long winded, here. The Phillies are Chase Utley’s team. They should trade him. Not necessarily because he’s no longer a guy with an astronomical nine WAR (wins above replacement), but rather because he’s 34 years old -- he turns 35 in December -- and keeping him and expecting anything of the Chase of old is fool’s gold.
Build around Domonic Brown, Ben Revere and figure out how to get Ryan Howard back to respectability. Howard is really the biggest question mark. He makes too much money for the production he gives you now, can’t stay healthy and strikes out more than, well, Ryan Howard. Much like the rest of the pitchers on staff, every other position player should have their bags by the door depending on which way the wind blows.
Amaro and the rest of the Phillies' brass need to embrace the rebuilding effort, which must begin this month at the trade deadline. The Phillies have to sell high on the players still in the fold and get whatever prospects and everyday players they can to move toward a new era on South Broad Street.
Amaro helped bring a parade to the city as an assistant under then-GM Pat Gillick, compliments of the 2008 World Series crown, and if he wants to keep his position with the franchise he needs to execute “Plan B” to a tee. Just the job for such a man, just the man for such a job. Rebuild now or regret deeper doldrums later.