Phils swept by Braves, trades likely to follow
ATLANTA – Flashback to Friday afternoon:
“If we get swept here, it will be pretty daunting,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
It’s officially daunting.
Actually, it’s worse than that.
The Phillies were indeed swept in Atlanta, with the Braves capping off a trio of wins with a 6-2 victory on Sunday afternoon. The Phils were outscored 14-4 in the three games and are now 12½ games out of the second wild-card spot with 60 to play.
“For us to get swept here …,” manager Charlie Manuel said.
His voice trailed off.
“I think where we’re at kind of speaks for itself,” he said.
Manuel didn’t throw in the towel, but it’s pretty safe to say the Phillies’ five-year playoff run is all but over. And instead of wins and losses, the focus has turned to who stays and who goes. The non-waiver trade deadline arrives on Tuesday and the Phils will be busy. But unlike recent years when they added Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence, the Phils will likely be unloading players.
While Amaro declined to speak with reporters after the game, Roy Halladay acknowledged that some of his teammates could be gone as soon as Monday.
“It’s nothing we aren’t all responsible for,” he said of the Phillies’ plight. “It’s not easy to swallow, but we’ve kind of put ourselves in this situation and sometimes you have to take it like a man.”
Shane Victorino remains the Phillie most likely to be dealt with Cincinnati, Los Angeles (Dodgers), San Francisco and Pittsburgh all possible destinations.
Joe Blanton could be on the move, possibly to Baltimore or St. Louis.
Juan Pierre has drawn interest from Cincinnati.
Ty Wigginton could be a fit on several teams’ bench.
And if the Phils are blown away by an offer, Hunter Pence could be had.
How about Cliff Lee?
It appears he’s staying for now. Amaro said Friday that he plans to keep his top starters together, but he acknowledged that plans could change. The Phillies could end up shopping Lee in the offseason as a possible solution to filling multiple holes.
But the willingness to part with Lee might be connected to the man that was on the mound Sunday. If Halladay doesn’t prove to be the Halladay of old – or at least close to it – over the final two months of the season, the Phillies might not be able to afford to trade Lee and lose so much depth from their rotation.
Halladay made his third start since coming off the disabled list on Sunday afternoon and the results were mixed. He struggled in the first inning and allowed a pair of two-out runs, one on a first-pitch (changeup) homer to Jason Heyward. He also allowed a homer to Chipper Jones on a first-pitch cutter in the third.
Halladay’s location was not good in the early innings, but he improved once he got by the third and finished his six-inning outing with three straight 1-2-3 innings. There was some encouragement there. In three starts since coming off the DL, Halladay has pitched 17 innings and allowed 11 runs for an ERA of 5.82.
After Sunday’s game, he admitted that he’s working on some mechanical adjustments, specifically trying to restore his arm slot to a higher position. Shoulder problems like the ones Halladay had can cause a pitcher’s arm slot to drop and that affects movement of pitches. Halladay, a sinker/cutter guy, relies heavily on movement.
Monitoring Halladay’s progress will be one of the Phillies’ most important tasks over the final two months of the season.
Halladay pushed for a trade to Philadelphia because he believed it was a place he could win a World Series. He got to the playoffs in 2010 and 2011, but all that 2012 has brought is a trip to the disabled list and disappointment.
He was asked how damaging the weekend sweep in Atlanta was to this team.
“There have been a lot of damaging moments,” he said. “It’s getting frustrating. We have no choice but to keep playing. Regardless of what we did coming into this and what we have in front of us, I think we owe it to the fans, ourselves and the organization to go out and turn things around and play better baseball.
“It’s going to be hard and obviously we’re in a substantial hole, but we need to get things going in the right direction.”
Victorino might not be here for the final two months. He will be eligible for free agency at the end of the season and the Phillies are ready to say good-bye to him after seven-plus seasons. If this was Victorino’s last game, it was a strong one, at least personally. He belted his 88th homer as a Phillie and had two other hits and two runs scored.
“I’m not even thinking that way,” Victorino said when it was mentioned that this could have been his last act as a Phillie. “Ruben hasn’t said anything to me personally. Until the GM calls me and tells me something I’m going to go out there and help this team win. We have 60 games left and my goal is to play those 60 games here.”E-mail Jim Salisbury at email@example.com.