Looking Ahead for the Phillies

Chase Utley
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After a series win in Colorado -- the Phillies first series win in about a month -- to start the second half off, the Phillies have have an opportunity to create some much needed momentum as they head towards the deadline.

That's when Ruben Amaro Jr. and company will have to decide on the team's fate.

When the season started, it would have taken an absolute disaster for the Phillies to be approaching the end of July as potential sellers, but they find themselves in an unenviable position at 39-51 on the season -- thanks to injuries, under-performance from the starters and better competition from the rest of the division.

Now, they find themselves at a crossroads -- they must choose to either improve the team via trades over the next two weeks in an attempt to rejoin the playoff race or sell off their valuable assets as they look to rebuild for 2013 and beyond.

One could easily argue that selling would be the right move but, with two weeks to go before the deadline, it makes sense to see what you can do with a complete team.

It comes down to whether or not they think they have a reasonable shot at competing for the rest of the season. With Chase Utley and Ryan Howard back in the lineup, and with Roy Halladay returning on Tuesday, they are finally getting healthy with expected starters in the lineup on a somewhat-daily basis.

The problem, however, is that the next two weeks aren't going to be easy, thanks to a pretty rough schedule that kicks off on Monday.

  • 7/13 - 7/15 @ Los Angeles Dodgers (48-42)
  • 7/20 - 2/22 vs San Francisco Giants (49-40)
  • 7/23 – 7/25 vs Milwaukee Brewers (42-46)
  • 7/27 – 7/29 @ Atlanta Braves (49-39)
  • 7/31 @ Washington Nationals (51-35)

As you can see, they have their work cut out for them. The Dodgers are not the powerhouse that they were in April, but the last time the Phillies faced them, they got swept at home in a four-game series. And the Giants? Despite Tim Lincecum's disappearing act, they aren't an easy task. There is a brief reprieve with the Brewers, but they are far better equipped than the Phillies, so it's not like they'll have an easy go of it. Then they face the red-hot Braves and the division-leading Nationals.

That's it: 13 games to decide the fate of the team. It's not going to be an easy task, but if the Phils can keep up their winning ways, they can potentially get themselves back into the playoff hunt and start looking for some cost-effective ways to improve the team, especially in the bullpen.

Otherwise some longtime Phils could be saying goodbye.

In the past, Amaro has been able to make deals at the deadline that gave the Phillies the kind of boost to push them over the top as they sped towards the postseason. But with a tough schedule and a whole host of teams ahead of them vying for a playoff spot, can he do it again?

We have just over two weeks to find out.

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