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Phillies fans should expect fire sale if team falls out of contention


The Phillies’ embarrassing homestand against the beyond-lowly Miami Marlins was a downright disgrace. The humiliating 14-2 loss last Sunday coupled with yet another injury for former team ace Roy Halladay were ominous signs that the halcyon days of this once proud era of Phillies baseball are everything but gone. No matter what happens in regards to Halladay, it will be another tough road ahead for the right hander who dazzled Phillies fans with his performances in 2010-2011. I said earlier this year that a lot of the Phillies success this season would depend on Halladay, and I stand by that sentiment.


Let’s be honest with ourselves here: the Phillies have a $165 million dollar payroll and are loaded with aging veterans whose better days are mostly behind them. If another season without a playoff appearance is imminent, Ruben Amaro needs to ultimately do what’s best for this team heading towards the future and break it up. Chances are the Phillies aren’t as bad as that team who were beaten by a bunch of Triple-A players on Saturday and Sunday, but they aren’t as good as the team who beat the (I’m nauseous having to say this over and over again) World Champion San Francisco Giants Monday night, either.

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Here is who you should expect to see on the trading block come July or sooner if the Phillies fall out of contention. (Note: If Halladay didn’t suffer his recent injury and Ryan Howard didn’t have such a hefty price tag, I would have included the two of them in the group as well.)Photo: Kathy Willen/AP


Chase Utley- Truth be told, this is a trade that would rock Philadelphia. However, you have to face the facts: Utley is 34 and has two bad knees. In saying that, a contending team could definitely use his services. With his contract expiring after this season, the Phillies might decide to turn the page- and trading Chase Utley would officially put this team in rebuilding mode.


Jimmy Rollins- The Dodgers reportedly were after Rollins last year, and it’s obvious that the Phillies’ decline has affected him as well. If a west coast team again showed interest in J-Roll, he may be inclined to waive his full no-trade clause and return home.


Cliff Lee- If the Phillies fall out of contention, Lee will be one of the most highly sought after pitchers on the market. Unlike the Scott Rolen and Curt Schilling trades, however, they have to make sure they capitalize on this one if the situation were to arise. There is one hiccup in all of this: Lee will be owed $50 million over the next two seasons (and that doesn’t count his salary of $25 million for 2013), so there might not be as many teams that could afford him. However, if teams want him badly enough, they will do what it takes  to get him. Just as long as the Phillies don’t trade him to the Giants.....Cliff Lee is back to Philly. Photo: Andrea Kohalmi.


Jonathan Papelbon- Papelbon has a partial no-trade clause. He seems to like it here in Philadelphia, but he is 32 and still effective- making him prime trade bait for a team looking for a closer with postseason experience. Papelbon fits that description.


Carlos Ruiz- Ruiz has struggled mightily since coming back from his suspension. However, he is a veteran catcher who should be able to turn things around. Chooch’s previous track record should be enough for some teams looking for a veteran catcher down the stretch. The one factor that could result in Ruiz staying and signing another deal with the Phillies is the lack of progression from Tommy Joseph down in Triple-A.


Michael Young- Despite his overall lack of run production, Young has proven that he can still hit consistently at the big league level. His track record along with his expiring contract screams “veteran leader acquired in a deadline deal.”


Delmon Young- Young hasn’t exactly torn the cover off the ball since homering in his first Phillies at bat. However, an American League team looking for a DH could seek out the Phillies for his services near the trade deadline.


Bottom Line: In basically any professional sport, you’re capable of turning a team around rather quickly if you take the right steps necessary to do so. The Phillies will have quite a bit of money coming their way in the form of a new television contract after the 2015 season. And I’m not talking millions, I’m talking billions. Until then, they have to balance building for the future while maintaining an entertaining product on the field. The success of the Phillies over the last six years has thankfully put them in this position, but there comes a time when you have to turn the page.

Because after all, baseball is a business.


Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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Utley photo: Kathy Willens/AP

Lee photo: Andrea Kohalmi