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Trade Deadline Confusion: On Cole, Chase, Jimmy, and Ryan

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I know the Phillies should trade these guys to re-stock their farm system. I just don't want them to.

Please don't go!
Please don't go!
Jim McIsaac

I'm really not happy this week because I'm being torn in two completely different directions about what I want to happen at the trade deadline.  One part of me knows what's best for the team; the other knows what I want as a fan.  Sometimes those two things are completely in sync.  But now, they are diametrically opposed.

And the more I think about it, the more I think the fan in me wins out.

If it's not obvious what I'm talking about, here it is: do I want the Phillies to trade Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and/or Ryan Howard?  Of course, I know that Utley and Rollins have said they want to stay and that Howard will be virtually impossible to move, but the next 30 hours are the height of the silly season, so there's going to be a lot of talk about everyone.  And the question is, do I want these guys to go?

The analyst in me says absolutely.  As John laid out this morning, Hamels is one of the top pitchers in the game right now.  Depending on how you look at it, he's either on a fair market or slightly below-market contract for the next several years.  But, the aging curve plus the state of the franchise are such that it's hard to imagine him being a part of a successful Phillies team before his contract is up.

Even more so for Utley and Rollins.  As schmenkman points out all the time, they are still one of the best middle infield duos in baseball.  Individually, Utley is the fourth best second-baseman in the majors (by fWAR) and Rollins is fifth for shortstops.  Both of them are signed to very team-friendly contracts.  Like Hamels, though, they are not going to be a part of the next Phillies success story.  The franchise is just too moribund and they are just too old.

Howard is in a different class, of course.  He's having a really bad year - 22nd in the majors among first basemen.  And he has a horrendous contract, one of the worst in baseball.  Still, it's possible some team not completely savvy with modern analysis (there has to be one other than the Phillies out there, right?) might want his home runs and RBI potential, especially in the AL with the designated hitter.  And especially if the Phillies eat almost all of the money owed.

These guys, minus Howard, could, in the right deal, go to contenders and the return could help jump start the Phillies minor league system.  With the state of the team right now, I know that the right thing to do for the long-term would be to trade all of them.  Not for anyone other teams throw at Ruben, but for the right pieces to build for the future.  We all know that this team desperately needs it.  We all know that this is the right move for this franchise.  We all know this is necessary to contend again sooner rather than later.

And yet - I just can't bring myself to actually want this to happen.  Over the past decade, I have loved rooting for these guys.  They are my players on my team.  They are some of my favorite Phillies ever.  They are a large reason why I watch games still.  They are who I tell my young sons about and who my sons ask about when they wake up.

This morning, for instance, I got to tell my kids about last night's game.  I told them Cole Hamels pitched brilliantly.  I told them Jimmy Rollins hit a home run, so we sang the Jimmy Rollins home run song (don't ask).  I told them Chase Utley hit a grand slam, which got them both really excited.  These are the players who make the Phillies the Phillies.  These are the players who inspire future generations of baseball fans.

Without them, we'd be rooting for Reid Brignac, Andres Blanco, and David Buchanan.  In other words, I really would be rooting for laundry.  What's worse, it would be laundry whose common thread is that Ruben Amaro Jr. and David Montgomery control it.  That's not too appetizing.

I'd still root for the Phillies, of course.  There's still Chooch (who I have no idea why isn't in trade rumors right now).  There's still happy Ben Revere.  There's still Cody Asche, who I guess I sort of enjoy watching.  There's still the hope that Domonic Brown will break out again.  And it's still baseball, which I love.

But it just wouldn't be the same rooting for the Phillies right now without Cole, Chase, Jimmy, and Ryan.  They, with Chooch, are still the faces of this franchise.

And ultimately, I want them to remain Phillies, analyst in me and future of the franchise be damned.