With the July 31 trade deadline drawing closer by the day, Phillies GM Pat Gillick has yet to decide if the club will be buyers or sellers. While the team has won four of its last six games and has taken its last two series to climb to 42-48, they sit 12 games back in the division.
Gillick says he is giving the team two weeks to climb back into contention or he will strongly consider making major trades. Should the team turn it around, he may not make major deals or shakeup the team. Granted, the Phils are just 5 ½ games out of the wild card, but they sit in ninth place in the wild card standings. They will need to play a serious game of leapfrog if they want to make a legitimate push for the playoffs.
If they do turn the season around, will it really matter? Honestly, will it do anything to help the future of the franchise? I highly doubt it. They still have far too many needs and too many weak areas to even be considered a threat in a very weak National League.
Both corner outfielders should be shipped out by the end of the month. Bobby Abreu, while he is solid offensively, refuses to bat leadoff, where his high on base percentage could be utilized. He is a lazy outfielder and doesn't bust down the line to beat out ground balls, a la Chase Utley.
Trading Abreu now makes the most sense it ever has and ever will. Teams are desperate for his bat, the Tigers, Yankees, Mets, and apparently Brewers all have interest in acquiring the former home run derby champ. Trade him and get what you can for him. The Phillies have a decent outfielder and leadoff hitter playing sparingly in Shane Victorino. Use Abreu to get pitching and some decent prospects to help build for the future.
Then we have Pat Burrell. He is extremely streaky at the plate and even worse in the outfield. His bum foot doesn't help his cause in running down fly balls in left field. On the road trip leading up to the all-star break, Burrell was in a horrible slump. Since the break, he is batting .600 (6-for-10), has one home run, four RBI, and 11 total bases. He has just two strikeouts in those three games as well.
With the Yankees in sore need of another bat and outfielder, get what you can from the Yanks for Burrell, who could either play outfield or DH for the Bronx Bombers. Shipping Burrell out of town would eliminate a large amount of strikeouts from the middle of the lineup and would allow David Dellucci to play leftfield.
By dealing both Abreu and Burrell, and the imminent departure of David Bell and Mike Lieberthal via free agency at the end of the season, not only do four huge contracts come off the books, but the culture of the team will change. Abreu, Burrell, and Lieberthal are all links to the Ed Wade era for the Phillies. Allowing them to move on would help usher in the Gillick era.
Should the team buy or sell at the deadline? I think the choice is clear and is quite obvious. Regardless if the team gets back in the hunt, it will just be a false sense of success and it won't help the future of this club.
Gillick can build around Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Aaron Rowand, and Cole Hamels. That is a solid foundation for a good ball club. Add a young, good catcher, and find a number one pitcher to anchor their rotation and it will be a step in the right direction.