To be sure, the Phillies still have a shot at the NL East, largely due to the spate of mediocre and flawed/injured teams surrounding them. Five games back at the end of May is hardly a death sentence, and while we've already worked out a fairly compelling case on the site for why the Phillies should basically be considered the Platonic ideal of mediocrity, it's worth noting that mediocre teams have won pennants and World Series before.
That said, if the Phillies remain five games out or further heading toward the trade deadline, we're going to hear a lot more rumbling about their willingness to move veteran players, and if Cliff Lee isn't healthy by then, the name we'll be hearing the most is Chase Utley. Utley has upped his stock significantly from its already high point with a 337/394/556 line and a 2.4 fWAR that would look a lot better if Troy Tulowitzki hadn't turned on god mode earlier this year. He's also on an affordable contract with a number of club options, and the Phillies could conceivably get a haul for the guy in a market where so many contenders -- the Orioles, the Royals, the A's, et al -- need a second baseman.
So will they trade him? Probably no, reports Ken Rosenthal in his column today:
*Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. on the possibility of trading Chase Utley, who would need to approve any deal as a player with 10 years of major-league service, five with the same club:
"It's such a moot point, there's nothing to discuss. I don't know if we'll completely 'sell' ever. We can revamp, but we can't completely sell out. We have to have a contending team in 2015 or '16 -- or at least a competitive team.
"Probably the only way it would ever happen is if he comes to me and says, 'Dude, what are we going to do here?' My understanding is that Chase wants to be here, finish out his career here, win here. I hope we can do all of those things with him."
It was only last Aug. 8 that Utley signed a two-year contract extension with three club options after the Phillies told him they would trade him if he preferred.
So it sounds as if it's more of the same from last trade deadline. Amaro is in it to retool, not rebuild, which really comes as no surprise. And Utley wants to stay with the team long term, which, if not a surprise, is at least a pleasant thing to hear from a fan favorite. To be sure, while prospects be money, it's hard to blame Amaro for not wanting to trade a face of the franchise who wants to stay in town. And frankly, Chase deserves that.
That said, here's an interesting thought from our own David S Cohen that might be worth some debate below:
Is there any possible way the Phillies life-long 5 remain Phillies for their entire career? Chooch, Rollins, Howard, Utley, and Hamels - their current contracts will run out before they are going to retire (most likely), so they'll get new contracts. But, they'll be too expensive and too much in decline for the Phillies, especially given that we'll be in rebuilding years (presumably). So, as much as it's been great having these guys as lifelong Phils, there's just no way they end their careers that way. Right?