Right round this time of the year, baseball fans start trying to figure whether or not their team is going to be a buyer or seller at the trade deadline. Here are some teams right on the edge as it currently stands.
Right now, the Fightin’ Phils are tied for 2nd in the NL East, 7 games behind the Atlanta Braves. To be honest, if you had told me that Hamels/Halladay would be a combined 4-14 at this point, while Chase Utley had missed almost 30 games, I would’ve guessed the Phillies to be 10-12 games out already. That’s what makes this choice kind of tricky. The Phillies have to feel like they are still in it with their best baseball yet to come. Then again, the Phillies core players are starting to get up there in age, especially Howard, Utley, Lee, Halladay, Rollins, Michael Young, etc. Which means if the Phillies are to be buyers this year, it will be to win THIS year, and probably this year only.
As talented as those players are that I just mentioned, it’s pretty certain their best years are behind them. Which is why, personally, I think the Phillies should end up being sellers. With age quickly setting in, the Phillies should use this year to get younger. Especially considering how hard it appears it is going to be to claim a wild card spot this season. Any other season, I would probably say “give it a shot”, but with the Nationals still waiting to get hot and 6 other teams in front of them in the wild card, the Phillies should play it safe.
Tampa Bay Rays:
I have to believe that in the Rays front office, they are convinced that the Rays are going to make a run soon. Their offense has been much better than expected, while their vaunted starting rotation has been downright ugly. This team is 27th in team ERA and 25th in quality starts? That is NOT what we expected from a team that was projected by most as having the deepest rotation in their division. Which, in most divisions, would mean you probably take a shot.
However, the AL East is not “most divisions”. The Rays are currently in 4th place sitting 7 games out of first. However, the two wild card spots appear to run through the AL East, so a 3rd place finish may get the Rays to the postseason. As long as they don’t go on any type of big losing streak and really take themselves out of the picture, I fully expect the front office to remain buyers as they wait for the rotation to turn it around.
San Diego Padres:
Projected by virtually everyone to be in dead last in the NL West, the Padres have won 8 out of 10 and sit just 2 games behind 1st place Arizona. They don’t do anything particularly well (16th in runs and 22nd in ERA) ; they just somehow grind out win after win. The Padres are young though and as great as their story is thus far, it’s going to be difficult to beat out the Giants and Dbacks in the NL West.
I truly hope for the Padres sake, that they fall off a little bit before the deadline. That way the fan base will understand them being sellers and trying to improve for next year. The Padres have a nice nucleus in place and should keep building on that for 2014 and beyond. Right now, Andrew Cashner is 26, but the rest of the rotation is 29 or older. Maybe they can use one of their strong bullpen pieces (3 guys with 20+ innings and an ERA under 3, plus closer Huston Street) to get some young starting pitching for the future.
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