It is deadline day in the MLB. Not that long ago this was one of the more exciting days on the sports calendar in the Delaware Valley. The Major League Baseball trade deadline provided the Phillies with one last shot to significantly upgrade their roster heading into the postseason.
That was the old Phillies. The new Phillies have a whole different set of problems, and they are not nearly as much fun to speculate about.
General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has watched the bottom fall out from under his team since the All-Star break. The Phillies were completely uncompetitive in series against the Mets, Cardinals and Tigers, so now they have to be sellers in order to restock the organization with young talent. Or at least that's what conventional wisdom would dictate.
The problem for the Phillies is that teams do not seem to want to pay a king's ransom for any of their available pieces. There is legitimate interest in Cliff Lee, but not at the price Philadelphia is demanding. Chase Utley is apparently a guy the organization wants to hold onto no matter what, so interested teams are being told not to even bother inquiring. Jonathan Papelbon's contract makes him untradeable due to other teams' fiscal concerns with the money he is owed over the next two years, while Michael Young and Jimmy Rollins' contracts literally take them off the trade market unless they give their blessing to any potential deal.
All of the sudden the Phillies trade market looks about as weak as the housing market did after the real estate bubble burst in 2008.
What will Amaro do? Well that we will learn today, but he should not do anything without getting good prospects back in return. Salary dumps won't do anything to help the Phillies right now, particularly with the weak crop of free agents set to hit the market this offseason. Consequently, Amaro has to get his team younger and more potent offensively. Any moves that don't accomplish at least one if not both of those goals is useless.
It is a difficult needle to thread, but it is what has to be done. If not, the Phillies' future is going to look an awful lot like its present.
And that's certainly not a good thing.