PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Phillies season is far from over, even considering the disappoting first third, and the injuries the team has had to deal with. Even so, there will likely be decisions to make come the end of July, when the trade deadline approaches and the team must figure out whether it’s in their best interest to trade some of their core players.
The idea of trading someone like Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins was at one time unthinkable, but at least considering it has become a reality. That idea is not lost on general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.
“That’s the beauty of this sport, is to find out what you can to do to make your team better, and not just now, but for the future,” Amaro told 94WIP’s Michael Barkann and Ike Reese on Wednesday. “And those are some of the difficult decision that we, as an organization, are going to have to make because the players are not going to be able to function and produce like they have in the past.”
While Jimmy Rollins has been a steady contributor over the last few seasons, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard’s production has decreased because of injury and age. It’s hard to know just how how much to expect from either of them. Roy Halladay will also miss a large part of the remainder of the season due to shoulder surgery.
“There are a couple of different questions. One, is the team and the organization better with the player on the club? Is the team or the organization better without the player on the club? And who the hell is going to replace the guy?”, he said. “And you can say, ‘OK get rid of this guy, get rid of that guy, and get rid of the other guy’, but if you want to win, who they hell are you going to replace him with? Is the player that comes to replace that player, you’re going to pull out of the tree, and all the sudden he’s going to be better than Jimmy Rollins, or Chase Utley, or Ryan Howard? Where’s that guy? Can you find that guy? That doesn’t necessarily exist.”
Utley has been productive this year, even given the struggles he’s had in recent years with his knees and hip. He was sidelined recently with an oblique injury.
“I still believe in Chase being a more productive player,” Amaro said. “I know he’s gotten hurt a lot, and that’s an issue for us. I think Ryan is going to be a more productive player than he is right now. He’s got track record to have done that, I think that he’ll come around. I think Jimmy—at the end of the day, Jimmy is going to be Jimmy. His numbers will be there, he’ll be scoring runs and driving in runs. Will they do that at the rate when they were at their prime? Probably not, but even so these players can still be productive players. The question is, how productive can they be? And if we move them, who is going to replace them and be able to replace that kind of production that we need?”
Even if the Phillies manage to contend and find a way into the playoffs this year, the process of constructing the next generation of Phillies baseball should be, and is a concern. Having traded away a good deal of prospects to ‘win now,’ Domonic Brown is the first success story of a team prospect since the core group rose to prominence in the mid 2000’s.
“Absolutely, [rebuilding is] something on our mind and that’s the difficulty of being in the position that we are in right now because people talk about the window—my job, and I said this from the beginning, is to try to be a contended every single year,” Amaro said. “And in order to do that, people think that you sometimes have to take steps back to move forward. I don’t believe in that. I think there’s ways you can take a step to the side to move forward and I think that’s the trick. Other organizations have done a pretty good job at doing that, I mean Boston obviously is one of them. We’ve talked about that a lot internally, some of the things that they’ve done. Other organizations like the Atlanta Braves have done a very good job of that, and part of that is just trying to continue to funnel talent into our systems.
I still believe that we can contend in this division, because I do not believe that we have all our players on the field. If we get Chooch and Chase back and we give ourselves, whatever, that month and a half before the trade deadline to see exactly what we are, then I think we have a much better picture, a more complete picture. Right now, I think we’re incomplete. We’re playing close to .500 baseball and that’s not good enough, but I think, and we have seen it before, we have always been a very good second half team.”