Are you unhappy with the current state of the 2014 Philadelphia Phillies? Guess what, peeps. You ain't alone.
General manager Ruben Amaro doesn't like what he's seeing either. That's not surprising given the team's 38-51 record, their -55 run differential and their current location in the cellar of the National League East, 11 games out of first place. And as Amaro has talked about a short window for a rebuild, or a "re-tool" to be more accurate, he acknowledges that changes are needed.
The Phils had just 11 hits in their entire three-game series against the Pirates. They scored six runs. Last night, they added just three more, but won 3-2 over the Brewers. As Crashburn Alley noted on Monday, the offense is a black hole, with only Ben Revere and Marlon Byrd providing any offensive consistency. All that futility has caught Amaro by surprise, telling the Daily News' Ryan Lawrence...
"I didn't anticipate our guys being this poor," Amaro said. "Because they are. They are this poor. We think that they're better. But they haven't shown it. So at some point, we're going to have to make some changes. Some guys, once they are ready to play, may be factors for us."
Who is he talking about? Darin Ruf, for one. Ruf is currently on a rehab assignment and could see time in left field in place of Domonic Brown. The recently acquired Grady Sizemore, who must be called up to the Phils by the All Star Break or given his release, could see some regular time in the starting lineup as well. Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco are also candidates for call-ups, with Amaro hinting that Franco could fill in for the epically struggling Ryan Howard, who's slugging percentage is now .393 and who over his last 16 games has an OPS of .470.
"He could play first base, too," Amaro said. "He's swinging the bat well [in the last week]. Hey, listen, I'm looking for people who can swing the bat. Because we're not doing it here. If he gets to the point where he starts swinging the bat consistently, he's a guy who could be in play, too."
In short, anything goes right now. Nothing and no one is safe. Which also likely means any and every Phillie who does not have no-trade rights is available for the right price, with Amaro saying that there is interest among Major League clubs in his players.
"I think that we would be [active before the deadline]," Amaro said. "Being active and actually getting something done are two different things. We've been active already. We'll be active, whether we'll actually get it done or if there is something that can improve us, it depends on how our club is being evaluated."
Yankees Aren't Interested in A.J.
Perhaps New York is just blowing smoke, but the New York Post says the Yankees, which have lost CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova for the season and are in desperate need of starting pitching, are not interested in re-acquiring A.J. Burnett, who played with the team from 2009-2011.
With Samardzija and Hammel off the market, trade options are slimmer. The Rays aren't likely to deal David Price within the AL East and Cliff Lee of the Phillies has to prove he is healthy. The Phillies would move A.J. Burnett, but the Yankees don't have a strong interest in bringing back the right-hander. With Samardzija and Hammel gone, the price on secondary starters such as Ian Kennedy likely has risen.
Pittsburgh and Baltimore are still seen as prime landing spots for Burnett, who can block a trade to 21 of 30 MLB teams, although the Pirates and Orioles are said to be on his list of teams to which he'd accept a trade. Both are close to his home in Maryland.
Hot To Unload Papelbon
So that Ken Giles has been pretty good, eh? So good that the Phillies are even more inclined to trade closer Jonathan Papelbon now than they were before. And they were pretty motivated before. From the Inquirer's Matt Gelb...
His last 15 innings - seven of which came in save situations - through Thursday produced a 0.60 ERA and 15 strikeouts with zero walks. Scouts have noted Papelbon's depleted stuff and his persistent luck. Three months of results, though, count for something.
There is $19 million (at least) to be paid on Papelbon's contract. He could guarantee another $13 million for 2016 with a vesting option tied to games finished. That is a palatable number for the Phillies to share with a contending team in need of late-inning stability. Potential suitors include San Francisco, Detroit, Baltimore, and the Los Angeles Angels.
Amaro could make such a trade, perhaps procure a midlevel prospect, and sell the deal on Giles. He is the team's future closer. Last summer, the Phillies general manager said he was in no rush to jettison Papelbon because the team lacked a clear replacement. That excuse has passed.
Giles has been spectacular since his call-up. In 11.2 innings he has an ERA of 0.77 and a K% of 42.5%. He has walked just 7.5% of batters, too and allowed an opponents' batting average of .108. There is no doubt the team sees him as their potential closer of the future, and would love to move the high-priced Papelbon to groom the 23-year-old fireballer.
Will the Phils find a taker? Only if Amaro agrees to eat some of Papelbon's contract. But if he can get a half decent prospect in return, the smart money says the team would be willing to do that.
Byrd Not Stressing
Marlon Byrd ain't worried. He's just mashin'.
Byrd could be the Phils' most attractive trade chip. He is the best power hitting outfielder on the market, and there are teams in desperate need of some power, namely the Royals, Mariners, Cardinals and Yankees. There is a strong likelihood Byrd could be dealt this month, but the Inquirer's Marc Narducci says Marlon's not worrying too much about changing addresses.
"You think about it a little bit the first time you go through it, but the second time now, you keep playing and are trying to win games for the Phillies," he said.
Byrd understands anything is possible.
"You stay, that's a good thing," Byrd said. "You go somewhere else, hopefully, this organization gets a great piece and you make it a better [team] than before you were here."
Before the game, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phillies would continue to assess the situation in regard to trades.
"You know Ruben is going to do the right thing," Byrd said. "You just don't know what that is."
Marlon, I wouldn't order any personalized stationary in the next couple weeks, just to be safe.
No Lee Until After All-Star Break
The Phillies aren't going to rush Cliff Lee into a start before the All-Star break. Instead, the Inquirer's Matt Gelb says Lee's first start will likely come on July 19th against the Atlanta Braves, thanks to a rain-shortened first rehab game in Clearwater on Sunday.
Lee, whose last start was May 18, threw two scoreless innings Sunday with one hit and two strikeouts. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Lee's fastball was clocked between 89 and 91 m.p.h. - a typical range for Lee.
Unless a team is really desperate for starting pitching and misses out on David Price, it's hard to see how Lee is traded before the July 31 trade deadline. An August deal is possible and a Lee trade over the winter is even more probable.
Still, teams like New York and Baltimore are pretty desperate. You never know.