Sports Final's John Clark and Howard Eskin each give their Top 5 reasons why the Phillies are in last place at the All-Star Break.
A week ago with the Phillies on the verge of a critical six-game stretch against division-rival Mets and Braves, I wrote that those series would make or break the Phillies season and likely dictate how general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. handled the July 31 trade deadline.
If the Phillies won both series and took four or five games they would have reason to believe that at least a wild card spot was still within reach. Break even or lose the six-game stretch and the Phillies would be as good as done.
Well, after losing five of six -- including a sweep at home at the hands of Atlanta -- I’m going to state the obvious, the Phillies (37-50) are done. Sans a Moneyball-like miracle, there will be no postseason baseball in Philly this Fall for the first time since 2006.
In almost a poetic way, the Phillies problems of 2012 were all magnified at some point while stumbling into the All-Star Break. Against the Mets they got blown out once as a starting pitcher (Vance Worley) got lit up in route to a blowout loss and the Phillies bullpen imploded (Jonathan Papelbon taking his turn this time) to lose a game late. Then against the Braves the offense didn’t show up against Tim Hudson, Hunter Pence went all Bad News Bears with a bobble and a reliever allowed a game-winning bomb.
That’s how it goes for the 2012 Phillies. Add in the underwhelming returns of Chase Utley – they are 1-10 since he came back -- and Ryan Howard -- winless in 2012 -- and nothing appears to be headed in the right direction.
So where should Amaro and the Phillies go from here? Trade away what you got and play for next year. Get younger and don’t be afraid to make the unpopular (a.k.a. trading Cole Hamels) move if it means a brighter future.
My guess is that come August 1 Hamels, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco will all be wearing other uniforms.