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MLB Team Report - Philadelphia Phillies - INSIDE PITCH
The Philadelphia Phillies' slide to irrelevance continues.
They were world champions in 2008, and National League champs in '09. They won 102 games as recently as 2011.
But they went 81-81 in 2012, 73-89 last season and find themselves with a 42-53 record and in last place in the mediocre NL East heading into the All-Star break.
They don't hit much. Their pitching is sporadic. Moreover, their team is ancient -- five regulars are 34 or older, and three members of the starting rotation are 33 or older -- so it appears things are going to get worse before they get better.
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has already said they will be sellers at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and closer Jonathan Papelbon has said he will waive his no-trade clause to go to a contender.
Second baseman Chase Utley and shortstop Jimmy Rollins, Phillies their entire careers, are more reluctant to leave, and can veto any deal that is not to their liking.
Left-hander Cliff Lee is another player who would appear to be attractive to a contender, though he has been on the disabled list since May 19 with a strained elbow. The 35-year-old Lee will make another rehab start July 14, and is scheduled to start against San Francisco on July 21.
Depending upon how healthy and effective he is, it looms as one of his last appearances for the Phillies, and others seem certain to follow him out the door. Nothing that happens between now and the end of the month will change that.
"That decision's already been made, things that they want to do," Rollins said, referring to the front office. "Regardless of how we play, they're still going to make their decisions for the future of the team, not just now. We go out there, we play ball, we win, good things happen. And if that makes things difficult, then it does."
MLB Team Report - Philadelphia Phillies - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost two
FIRST-HALF MVP: 2B Chase Utley gets the nod after being named to his sixth National League All-Star team. It is also the first time he was selected for the squad since 2010. The 35-year-old got off to a sizzling start, hitting .321 through the end of May. Though he slipped to .240 in June, he bounced back to hit .292 with two homers and nine RBIs so far in July. He remains a model of professionalism, preparing himself meticulously and playing hard every night.
FIRST-HALF GRADE: D -- The Phillies were a playoff qualifier every year from 2007-11, though they were fully aware that they could not ride the Ryan Howard-Chase Utley-Jimmy Rollins gravy train forever. Now the Phillies are bottoming out, and Howard, Utley and Rollins are on the wrong side of 30 -- as are LHP Cliff Lee (35), RHP Roberto Hernandez (33), RHP A.J. Burnett (37) and RHP Jonathan Papelbon (33). In addition, the farm system is not brimming with prospects. The rebuilding process will be long and painful.
PIVOTAL POST-BREAK PLAYER: None is readily apparent, but the second half will at least give the Phillies a chance to take a longer look at some of their younger players. Cody Asche shows promise that he could be the everyday third baseman, though it remains unclear as to whether he will be the long-term answer at that position. Rookie RHP Ken Giles -- he of the blazing fastball and passable breaking ball -- looks as if he could be the team's closer someday, and RHP David Buchanan was OK in his 10 starts with the team.
BUY OR SELL: There is reason to expect the Phillies will back up the truck and ship as many veterans as possible out of town in the next few weeks, in the hope of replenishing their farm system and restoring some hope for the future. LHP Cliff Lee and RHP Jonathan Papelbon are the veterans most likely to be dealt, provided Lee is healthy after spending much of the season on the disabled list with a strained elbow. The fact that Papelbon said he would welcome a trade out of town might hasten his departure.
INJURY STATUS: The Phillies are an old, dry-rotted team, and old teams get hurt. The only shock to date is that they have not been injured more. As it is, LHP Cliff Lee missed nearly two months with a strained elbow, and RHP Mike Adams missed a significant portion of the season with a bad shoulder. Injuries are far from the only reason the Phillies are struggling are, but health is a contributing factor.
TOP PROSPECT: 3B Maikel Franco, seen at the Phillies' No. 1 minor-leaguer heading into this season, is enduring an inconsistent season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. The monthly batting averages for the 21-year-old Dominican: .172 in April, .282 in May, .162 in June and .390 through his first nine games in July. Franco's 11 RBIs this month match his total in 29 games last month. Overall, he is batting .230 with a .285 on-base percentage, a .364 slugging percentage, six homers and 42 RBIs.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Fortunately we're not completely out of it. We've been in this situation before, and come back to win a division (in 2007) and ... the next year won a World Series. Not saying that's going to happen, but we've been there, so you go out there and you play, play the teams that are ahead of you and do your best to beat them." -- Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins
MLB Team Report - Philadelphia Phillies - ROSTER REPORT
--C Carlos Ruiz (concussion-like symptoms) went on the seven-day disabled list June 27. He underwent and passed a post-concussion examination July 9 and was cleared to resume baseball activities. He hit off a tee July 11 and will continue baseball activities at Class A Clearwater during the All-Star break. He will go on a rehab assignment before rejoining the Phillies.
--LHP Cliff Lee (left elbow strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 19, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 11. He played catch for the first time in more than two weeks June 10. He threw a bullpen session June 24, then threw a simulated game June 27 and July 1. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Clearwater on July 6, and he is expected to be activated July 19. He is scheduled to throw up to 75 pitches in a rehab start July 15 for Clearwater.
--C Wil Nieves (strained right quad) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 19. He began a rehab assignment with the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Phillies on July 2 and moved to Class A Clearwater on July 9.
--3B Reid Brignac (left ankle sprain) went on the 15-day disabled list June 20. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Clearwater on July 16.
--RHP Mike Adams (right rotator cuff inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 7, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on July 2. An MRI revealed fraying of the labrum but no rotator cuff damage. He got a cortisone shot in mid-June.
LHP Cole Hamels
RHP A.J. Burnett
RHP Kyle Kendrick
RHP Roberto Hernandez
RHP Jonathan Papelbon (closer)
LHP Antonio Bastardo
LHP Jake Diekman
LHP Mario Hollands
RHP Justin De Fratus
RHP Ken Giles
RHP Jeff Manship
1B Ryan Howard
2B Chase Utley
SS Jimmy Rollins
3B Cory Asche
INF Cesar Hernandez
INF Andres Blanco
LF Domonic Brown
CF Ben Revere
RF Marlon Byrd
OF Grady Sizemore
OF Tony Gwynn Jr.
OF John Mayberry Jr.