The scoopage, per Danny Knobler’s (CBS) write-up Monday that quotes one rival club official, who apparently had just gotten off the phone with a high-ranking Phillies official:
“They told me, ‘If we lose any more games, we could be selling soon.”
Which is pretty consistent not only with what Amaro floated to Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly (that he’s playing wait-and-see before going “seller” at the deadline), but also conventional wisdom: Why would you blow up your team before you know what it really is yet?
Yeah, the Phillies have lost all five games they’ve played since Chase Utley‘s debut. And Ryan Howard has already said that he’s probably not going to be Ryan Howard until 2013 — at the earliest. Even if all goes well with Roy Halladay — BIG “if” — Cliff Lee’s still winless and has an ERA is ballooning like Jessica Simpson’s calves. This team has serious (maybe unrescuable) flaws, no matter what.
But that doesn’t mean there’s not a chance, and, given the way Amaro’s leveraged the future for the moment — for this moment — he’s got to see this thing through, at least until the deadline. According to this very report, the probability that the Phillies squeak into the playoffs (3.2 percent, according to CoolStandings.com, which we’re assuming accounts for the expanded wild card) is still markedly higher than that of the Cardinals (once 1.1 percent) and Rays (once 0.5 percent) from 2011, respectively, and at far later junctures than broach these Phillies now. (Cards and Rays chances were timestamped August and September, according to Knobler.)
The takeaway from this report, then? That what Jon Heyman reported over the weekend has some truth to it, and chronicles Ruben Amaro doing some pre-deadline prep work, in case this thing falls apart.
“It won’t just be Hamels, either. Teams that have spoken to the Phillies think that center fielder Shane Victorino is even more likely to go, and that pitcher Joe Blanton and third baseman Placido Polanco would be available, as well.”
The good news? That wouldn’t necessarily be throwing the towel in on the foreseeable future. All three players represent expiring contracts. (Polanco’s has a mutual option for 2013, with a $1 million buyout. The rest are due up for free agency.) So moving them and trying to get something back in return would really just be a way to cash in on an asset you’re about to lose control of. Smart business.
The bad news? That would be basically it for the season. None of the players is particularly important. Victorino’s having, statistically, the second-worst season of his career. Joe Blanton is a fourth starter. Placido Polanco might be the best fielding third (and second) baseman in league history, but he’s well on his way to becoming part of said history. But the sum of their parts? Stretches the elastic on an already massive hole in this Phillies roster.
Silver lining? Maybe moving Shane Victorino necessitates calling up Dom Brown, whenever he’s healthy? Long-awaited reveal, there.
Though it could be a long time before the Philies get back to the doorstep they were rapping on as recently as a year ago, Hamels and the rest of them or not.