Ok so it is no secret that the Philadelphia Phillies window for another World Series has almost closed. Contrary to popular belief, I am one of the rare people that still feels that the Phillies have the ability to win a championship. Although there is tons of evidence that this team is well past its prime, anything is possible in Major League Baseball just like any other sport. How about a few years ago when the Phillies were the popular pick to win it all each year and then went out and were upstaged by different teams in the playoffs that carried a hot streak into October. We had the 2009 version of the Phillies that made its second straight trip to the World Series, only to be smacked down by the New York Yankees in six games.
After 2009, Ruben Amaro turned his attention to Pitching, mainly starting pitching as he tried to assemble a staff that could dominate the league and lead this team to another World Series Championship. Let’s take a look back at how we got to this point. In December of 2009, Ruben shocked the majority by trading away Ace Cliff Lee and acquiring Roy Halladay, maybe MLB’s most dominant pitcher of the past ten years. This gave the Phillies a rotation of Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick and a mixture. But Amaro did not stop there, at the trade deadline the Phillies picked up former CY YOUNG WINNER and perennial all-star Roy Oswalt. Oswalt gave the Phillies a three man rotation that was the best in the league. Remember back to the end of that season…the Phillies limped into the playoffs while the San Francisco Giants were the hottest team down the stretch. The Phillies would face the Giants in the NLCS with an opportunity to earn its third trip in a row to the big dance. Well…we all know how that season ended…the Phillies were upset by the Giants who went onto win the World Series in a Sweep.
No one can blame the Phillies for not trying as Ruben Amaro went one step further the following season by acquiring Cliff Lee in the Offseason signing him to a six year contract. This was an unforgettable time in Philadelphia. “THE FOUR ACES.” The Phillies now had a staff of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, and Joe Blanton. This was the modern day version of the 1990 Braves, maybe even better. That Braves team had Gregg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Steve Avery. Well, this staff had a chance to upstage that staff and make history. Well, it was short lived and injuries and other distractions hurt this team. The Phillies ultimately lost in the NLCS to the Cardinals who went onto win the World Series. A common denominator of this season to the past season…the Cardinals were the hottest team down the stretch while the Phillies once again struggled on their way to another Division Title. “The Four Aces” never truly had a chance to take off and the Phillies were once again eliminated from Post-Season Play.
Then the following season…it happened again. The Giants once again dominated the league down the stretch and won its second World Series title in three years. Well here we are now. After his worst season as a pro last year, Roy Halladay is on the Disabled List after early season surgery. Cole Hamels is 4-11 so far, and looks nothing like the Pitcher that was signed to a long term contract in the off season. The funny thing is, Cliff Lee is 11-2 after a stellar season last year with no run support. I think its safe to say that if it wasn’t for Lee, the Phillies would not even be having this discussion of wether to be buyers or sellers.
Here we are, one week away from the All-Star break. Ryan Howard is on the Disabled List with a torn meniscus. Roy Halladay remains on the DL recovering from the shoulder surgery. Chase Utley has just returned from the DL, where he has found himself four seasons in a row. Adams, the million dollar set-up man is out for the season. So yes, this team is injury riddled which would be an easy excuse for Phillies management to become sellers at the trade deadline. Except there is one key stat that stands out. The Phillies have dominated the Division thus far with a 23-12 record. I firmly believe that is the most important fact. Lets forget their inconsistency. Lets forget their age. Lets forget all of the injuries. What has been the common theme the past few seasons in MLB. It is not the teams that dominate most of the season that are successful in the post season. It is the teams that battle adversity and become hot down the stretch.
So with this…I ask the question…are the Phillies capable of one last run with the team they have? I feel that the answer is definitely yes. So with that, I believe the Phillies should be buyers at the trade deadline. We are one game out of second in the NL East and seven games behind the Braves. One would look at the Braves and wonder how they do not have a double digit lead in the division. The truth is, the Braves have also been totally inconsistent as well.
Ryan Howard has saw his best days pass him by and it may be a blessing in disguise that he on the Disabled List at this point. The main reason being it gives the team a chance to see what his potential replacement Darren Ruf can do. Secondly, the Phillies supporting cast of starters including Kyle Kendrick, John Lannan, and Jonathan Pettibone have done more than hold their own. Also, despite his recent struggles, Jonathan Papplebon has the ability to dominate the closer position as he showed earlier with 14 straight saves and an ERA under 2.00. Domonic Brown continues to shine and is among the League Leaders in Home Runs, RBI, and Runs. Chase Utley is back and playing like his early days. Ben Revere has hit safely in eleven of twelve games and has Eighteen Hits in Twenty-One games.
But more important than any of these things is the awaited return of Roy Halladay. Now Halladay may never be the Pitcher he was in his prime. However, no one can question his heart and competitive spirit. Halladay has never won a World Series so you can bet he will be at his best. That is why Amaro brought him here in the first place: to win a WORLD SERIES. Also, Cole Hamels is once again looking like the Cole of old. So with that, I believe the Phillies should take one last crack at this. By being buyers, they don’t have to sacrifice the farm. I feel this team is one bat and one reliever away from contention. Who knows what the future holds, but I think the Phillies owe their core one last shot at a ring. By the core, I am talking about Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Cliff Lee. As seen in previous seasons, anything is possible and I feel they have one last run in them. Please Amaro…Don’t give up to soon. This team has been there, up and down, and back again. Lets try this one more time and at least if we fail…no one can say you didn’t go out trying!!!!!!!!!!