Hold or Fold for the Phillies?

Can Ruben Amaro Jr. swing a deal to get the Phillies in contention?

Can Ruben Amaro Jr. swing a deal to get the Phillies in contention?

It is just under three weeks until the MLB non-waiver trade deadline and rumors are swirling all around the Phillies’ clubhouse. With the team currently sitting at 45-47, it is hard to definitively peg them as buyers or sellers at this point.

Should a team that appears to have a quickly closing window blow things up now, or try to search for the missing piece(s) that could give them one more run at a World Series title?

That question will soon be answered because it is safe to say that after July 31, this Phillies roster should look somewhat different.

The man who is tasked with orchestrating the dismantling or the retooling of the team is General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. Amaro is certainly not in an enviable position at this point. He either will have to attempt to deal Phillies’ players that characterized this current regime and that symbolize some of the franchise’s most iconic moments, or he will have to convince other teams to trade to the Phillies some of their top talent to make one more push at a World Series Title.

Michael Young's first season in Philadelphia, may be his last.

Michael Young’s first season in Philadelphia, may be his last.

A case can certainly be made for a number of Phillies being dealt away before the deadline. One name that has been mentioned a lot recently is third basemen, Michael Young. The former Texas Ranger is in his first year in Philadelphia and with a few good young infielders in waiting, dealing Young makes some sense.

This season Young is hitting .289 with six homeruns and 26 RBI. At the age of 36, Young has played 77 games in the hot corner this season with a solid .965 fielding percentage.

One name that has been linked to Young and the Phillies is Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain. Amaro admitted that the Phillies have holes to fill in their pen and the Yankees could always use another solid bat considering their injury situations.

While dealing Young may not ruffle too many fans feathers, dealing his infield mate, Chase Utley, certainly will.

Chase Utley has had a profound impact on Philadelphia sports culture.

Chase Utley has had a profound impact on Philadelphia sports culture.

Utley is in the final year of a seven year $85 million deal with the Phillies. Amaro has expressed a desire to keep Utley and there could indeed be a deal put in place like the one given to Jimmy Rollins to keep him in pinstripes. However, the presence of youngsters like Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez makes Utley somewhat expandable.

Utley’s gritty play has endeared him to Phillies fans and it epitomizes the blue-collar persona the city embraces. The problem is, that play has turned Utley into a 34 year old second basemen who at times appears to be much older due to the wear and tear on his body.

Between 2009 and 2012, Utley missed 191 games due to various injuries stemming from very fragile knees. The trend is continuing this season as Utley has only played in 63 of the team’s 92 games. Can the Phillies continue to keep Utley on board for the sake of nostalgia?

From 2009-12, his games played was not the only thing decreasing. His homeruns, RBI’s and batting average all followed suit.

Dealing Utley to an American League team makes some sense. He has been consistent this season. They could extend his career somewhat by making him a designated hitter or perhaps by moving him to first base where his chance of injury will decrease. Utley has drawn interest from a number of teams including the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Yankees and Royals.

There have also been discussions about dealing a piece of the Phillies’ big three, Cliff Lee. The left-hander has been the best arm for the team this season and has an upcoming All-Star game appearance to show for it. However, Lee may be on the block, simply because he can bring back the most in return and he will be a hefty long-term salary to get off the books.

Cliff Lee will represent the Phillies in this year's All Star Game along with Domonic Brown.

Cliff Lee will represent the Phillies in this year’s All Star Game along with Domonic Brown.

With a 10-3 record and a 2.86 era, dealing Lee will signal the waving of the white flag for 2013. The Boston Red Sox and the Texas Rangers have been linked to Lee.

Many more names have come up this season as potential trade chips including Carlos Ruiz, Johnathan Papelbon and Jimmy Rollins. You could perhaps throw Ryan Howard in there as well but his current knee issue makes him impossible to move and he will not be healthy until the deadline passes.

Currently sitting at third in the division and within striking distance of a wild card spot, Amaro will have to soon decide whether he is going to go all in for another run, or turn off the lights on this current crop of Phillies.

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