Philadelphia Phillies
(Phillies)

The Philadelphia Phillies have been the laughing stock of baseball this year as they are the only major league team entering the All-Star break failing to reach 30 wins. The Phillies enter the break at 29-62, 21 games behind the first place Nationals. Philadelphia has a -160 run differential which is twice as bad as the next worst team (White Sox -73). While Philadelphia cannot be fixed over night I will offer 5 ways the fightin Phills can get back on track.

1. Fire Ruben Amaro

Amaro has proven that he may be the worst general manager in professional sports. Amaro has been the Phillies gm since 2009 as the team has been on a sharp decline since he has taken over. Let’s take a look back at some of Amaro’s regrettable transactions.

Amaro’s first season as the teams gm he made a trade for Indians ace Cliff Lee. Amaro decided to give up Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, and Jason Donald in order to acquire Lee. Now the trade made sense for them at the time at they were in the hunt to win back to back World Series but the trade would cost them a future ace in Carlos Carrasco. Lee pitched well during the teams postseason run but the problem was they would trade Lee to Seattle a year later…..FOR NOTHING! Philadelphia acquired J.C. Ramirez, Phillipe Aumonte, and Tyson Gillies in exchange for Lee. All three players are considered to be busts never panning out. Amaro would later reacquire Lee in free agency but we will get to that later.

In 2011 the Phillies traded Domingo Santana, Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid, and Jarred Cosart to the Houston Astros for Hunter Pence. The trade for Pence looks good on the surface except Philadelphia would trade him just one year later……AGAIN FOR NOTHING! At the July 31st trade deadline in 2012 Pence was shipped to San Francisco for Nate Schierholtz, Tommy Joseph, and Seth Rosin. Schierholtz was a fringe major league player who is currently in Japan while Joseph and Rosin look like busts in the making. Joseph was suppose to be the headline prospect but he is only hitting .138 in AAA and consistently finds himself on the DL.

Amaro has also failed to build a farm system. The Phillies roster consists of players who are way past their prime outside of Ben Revere and Maikel Franco. This may not entirely be Amaro’s fault but his scouting staff needs a overhaul. Going to a Phillies minor league game is also an embarrassment in itself. The AAA Iron Pigs and AA Fightins are amongst the worst teams in their prospective leagues. The Iron Pigs in particular are made up of mostly 30 year old wash ups. There is no semblance of a plan in Philadelphia, something needs to change. The Phils have virtually no young talent outside of J.P. Crawford, Aaron Nola, and Maikel Franco.

A number of awful extensions and bad trade decisions have doomed this organization. The good news for Phillies fans is new president of baseball operations Andy McPhail will likely hire a new gm in place of Amaro. Nevertheless this team is at least 5 years away from contention even if the team makes the right decisions moving forward.

Cole Hamels is the one true asset the Phillies have

2. Trade Cole Hamels

It still baffles me that Hamels is still wearing a Phillies uniform. Hamels could have been a Dodger last July if Amaro would have been more reasonable during last year’s trade deadline. Philadelphia could have had one of the Dodgers top three prospects (Corey Saeger, Julio Urias, Joc Pederson), when Amaro asked for all three LA completely ended trade talks. All three players are likely off the table a year later.

LA, Boston, New York, Houston, Chicago, and Texas have all been mentioned as possible landing spots. If I were in charge I would be doing everything in my power to convince Boston or Chicago to take him. The Red Sox have a pair of Dominican Phenoms in Rafael Devers and Manuel Margot who look like future stars in the league. The Cubs on the other hand have the deepest farm system in baseball packed with future all-stars. If a trade was constructed with any of the other teams above it has potential to be another trade that failed to bring back potential busts.

With Hamels being 31 years old his trade value will only continue to decrease. Add to the fact the Phillies may need to eat some of his hefty contract in order to bring in a solid prospect. If Hamels is not traded by the trade dealine I will lose all hope for the Phillies organization. My prediction is Hamels is ultimately shipped to the Red Sox but I believe he needs to remain in the National League in order to stay effective.

Would it be so crazy to trade a young star in Maikel Franco?

3. Make Everyone Available For Trades

Ruben Amaro has simply been greedy in recent trade talks after years of getting burned by prospects. If a team offers you anything for Jonathan Papelbon…..you take it. If a team offers you anything for Ben Rever…..you take it. Even young stud Maikel Franco should be available as we are talking about a team that could be the worst professional sports team in any sport. This team is in need of new blood and talented youngsters. The only way to truly rebuild is through the minor leagues. If the Phillies can score by trading their aging veterans it could speed up the rebuild. Philadelphia will also almost be picking first in the upcoming baseball draft as they are hoping the next Bryce Harper will be in next year’s draft. Hiring a new scouting department could a way to possibly increase the young talent as the current group has been disappointing in terms of finding young assets.

4. Hire A Up And Coming Manager

Philadelphia did have a bright manager in Ryne Sandberg before he resigned due to disagreements with the front office. I had the pleasure of working with Sandberg as a bat boy during his tenure with the Iron Pigs. Sandberg was highly impressive as he is a bright baseball mind but now it’s time to find a replacement after his resignation. Red Sox 3rd base coach Brian Butterfield could be viewed as a viable option as he is a mastermind in terms of designing defensive shifts. Mike Maddux could be another option as he has turned the Rangers rotation into a scary unit without much talent. There are a number of options Philadelphia could go with but the incoming manager must be hungry for the opportunity as the team is a long ways away from being contenders.

5. Be Smarter With Future Extensions and Free Agency

The Phillies have been partially doomed by recent extensions by aging players like Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee. Both players have contracts north of $100 million and have taken up a large portion of the teams salary constraints. The team has also failed to make an impact in free agency often times doing more harm than good like Jonathan Papelbon’s overpriced contract. In the future the Phillies can look to sign players to short term prove it contracts in order to rebuild a players reputation while playing for a team with little expectations. Would a player like Dexter Fowler settle for a one year deal in order to boast his value after hitting .232 this year? Maybe, as there are a number of players the Phillies can attract without giving up the draft pick compensation that it would cost to bring in a high profile free agent.

The team also needs to fix it’s recent problem of poor decisions in handing out overpriced extensions. Instead of offering a guy like Aaron Harang a contract extension it would be smarter to trade him for whatever prospect you can get. Signing low risk free agents would also allow the team to trade him for young talent if the player were to catch a hot streak during his tenure.

The Phillies can’t be fixed overnight but the following five steps could definitely speed up the rebuild process. The good news for Philly fans is the NL East is one of the weaker divisions in baseball as the team could conceivably get back into the race faster than expected. The Phillies don’t have to look outside the division to find a plan as the John Hart, the gm of the Braves has done a magnificent job at rebuilding the team so far. By following the five steps above Philadelphia could be back in track as philly fans are desperate to get back to a respectable status.