The Phillies don’t play again until Friday night, a Sixer hasn’t talked shit on Philly sports fans in like four days, and Eagles training camp is still a couple weeks away.
So, unless Ben Simmons goes on another date, much of the focus around here this week will probably be on the Phillies’ trade deadline plans.
To buy or sell. That is the question.
They have 14 games on the schedule before then, 12 of which are against division opponents at Citizens Bank Park. The correct course of action for Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and general manager Sam Fuld is to let things marinate during that period before choosing their adventure.
They’re buying if:
- a lineup that averaged 8.7 runs per game on its recent seven-game road trip stays hot
- the bullpen builds off a nine-day stretch (an eternity for that group) without a blown save
- the rest of the NL East continues to stumble
- they avert further COVID-related IL stints
What could possibly go wrong?
Really, just one of these things probably has to happen to keep the Phillies from selling.
But that’s stating the obvious and “if” qualifiers aren’t bold. We here at Crossing Broad, the home of elite sports journalism, aren’t afraid to go out on a limb. We’re not afraid to give you a take. That’s what the vacationing Kevin Kinkead would want.
So, here you go.
The Phillies are going to add at the deadline. They’re going to do it after a 7-3 stretch, including a 5-2 road trip, that pulls them back to .500 at the All-Star break.
Will they add big? Probably not. But with one of the league’s easiest remaining schedules, one featuring 41 of 72 second half games at home where they’ve played .600 baseball this season, they will add.
By opponent record…
The Phillies have played the most difficult schedule in MLB amongst teams .500 or better.
They own baseball's easiest schedule after the All-Star break, by a longshot.
— Paul Hembekides (@PaulHembo) July 12, 2021
With time running out to make their case as contenders, the Phillies began their most recent road trip winning just 36.6% of their games away from Citizens Bank Park this season. Before you write off the Phillies’ three wins over a struggling Cubs team last week that preceded an impressive series win over the Red Sox, keep in mind those are the kind of games they often fail to win.
They have notoriously played down to their competition. Just ask the Marlins.
The Phillies’ current reality is that they sit just 3.5 games out of first place behind the Mets. Per FanGraphs, they have more than doubled their postseason odds this month. Per Baseball Reference, they are the most likely NL East winner at the break.
They lead the way with a 35.2% probability, followed by the Mets (26.5%) and the now Ronald Acuna-less Braves (23.6%). The Nationals (12.4%) and Marlins (3.1%) trail well behind.
Don’t mistake any of this as a glowing endorsement of this team. There are glaring issues and clear deficiencies. You know the issues and deficiencies well:
- the Phillies don’t catch the baseball
- the bullpen
- the back of the rotation remains unsettled
- the bullpen
- Aaron Nola hasn’t figured things out
- the bullpen
— Brodes Media (@BrodesMedia) June 23, 2021
Those pushing for a sale will certainly reference the above flaws and a thin farm system. Those evaluations aren’t wrong.
The Phillies’ minor league system leaves a lot to be desired, particularly at the higher levels.
But trading a productive player on an expiring deal like Andrew McCutchen or a red-hot player like Jean Segura isn’t going to change its overall state. Maybe it adds a decent piece or two, but absent exploring franchise-altering trades involving the likes of Rhys Hoskins, Zack Wheeler, or J.T. Realmuto, the organization won’t get back a true system-changing jolt.
The Phillies are a veteran-heavy team that lurks within striking distance of preventing an embarrassing 10-year playoff drought. If they avert disaster over the next two-plus weeks, and I suspect they will, there’s no way this organization punts on that opportunity.