The Phillies currently sit six games over .500 and three-and-a-half back of the Atlanta Braves. The New York Mets hold a two-game lead over the Phillies for the wild card position, although the Phillies are also behind the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers at this point. With Chase Utley and Placido Polanco both out for at least the next two weeks, and with Utley probably missing additional time after undergoing surgery, it might behoove the Phillies to look for at least one replacement infielder, as opposed to fielding Wilson Valdez and Greg Dobbs during a pennant chase.
Buy or Sell?
This is pretty clearly a buy situation, particularly on cheap-ish third base and second base options. That makes names like Kelly Johnson and Jose Lopez potential fits; although neither is quite Chase Utley.
The rotation features only two pitchers with xFIP under 4.5, with Joe Blanton being the trailer (4.96 xFIP). Given the money being paid to Blanton, though, it seems unlikely he’ll be moved to the bullpen. I won’t make the reference to a certain dominant AL starting pitcher, but you have to wonder how different this team would look right now with his presence.
Most Phillies fans would probably love to move Raul Ibanez’s contract, but again, that just seems unlikely. And unless there’s some blockbuster on the horizon, a Jayson Werth deal probably isn’t happening, no matter how quickly it would make the trade market so much more interesting.
On The Farm
Domonic Brown is the Phillies’ top prospect and perhaps the most untouchable player on the farm given Werth’s pending free agency and Ibanez’s pending trip to the glue factory. Phillippe Aumont, Juan Ramirez, and Tyson Gillies were acquired from Seattle in the off-season and are amongst the top 10 prospects. They have a dearth of middle infield prospects, which partially explains why their replacements for Utley and Polanco border on replacement level ballplayers.
The Phils’ payroll is already at an all-time high, just shy of $140 million. Nobody outside of the organization is quite sure what the roof on potential spending is, but it’s hard to imagine the Phillies rejecting a trade based purely on funds.
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