Jun 18, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (26) plays defense against the Baltimore Orioles at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Veasey: I would have to say at this point that both Howard & Utley are most likely going to remain with the Phils for the rest of this season. Chase probably does not vest his option, so it’s likely his final year in Philly. Hamels is no better than 50-50 to leave. The Phillies have understandably set a high price for him in trades. If you force me to call, I’ll say he stays. Papelbon almost certainly gets dealt. The heaviest rumors have been the Jays, but could be any contender who needs a closer. Wouldn’t be surprised to see the Yankees take a run at him, putting Miller & Betances back in dominant setup roles. Other Phils who could be dealt include Ben Revere, Jeff Francoeur, and any among Harang/Billingsley/Williams, if healthy and pitching reasonably well.
MM: Speaking of Hamels, how important is the return the Phillies get for him to the clubs future and what kind of package are the Phillies trying to get?
MV: Getting a premium return for Hamels, who is worth it, is paramount. The team should not deal him if no one antes up. It’s going to take at least one prospect from among a club’s top 2-3, another high prospect, and probably 1-2 more depth pieces. That is, unless the first two pieces are such strong prospects as to make it worthwhile with those alone. Think Seager or Urias from the Dodgers types.
MM: Obviously there is going to be some change in the Phillies front office, with Ruben Amaro being reduced to a lower role. What kind of changes do you see happening and will it be positive for the team?
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MV: At the recent press conference to announce the hiring of Andy MacPhail, a very important secondary message was sent, that the ownership is now controlled by billionaire John Middleton. This is something many of us have been hoping/waiting for. Next is relieving Gillick of control, and the removal of Amaro from his position. Gillick leaves and MacPhail takes over following this season. Amaro is certain to be gone right after Gillick. So we should enter fall with new controlling ownership, a new club President, and a new GM. All positive, necessary steps. Problem is, at this current Trade Deadline, it seems to be Gillick/Amaro once again. We can only hope they either get good deals, or make none and leave it for MacPhail, the new GM, and the off-season.
MV: Strong rumors that Nola would be up soon after the All-Star break. However, his most recent start was a slight step backwards. I think they try to get by these next couple of weeks using the same ugly rotation choices after Hamels, and bring Nola up maybe in August or September. I would not, however, be surprised to see him at any time now, if they either feel he is absolutely ready, or want an attendance boost, or both. He will see action, if healthy, this season. Crawford has been considered by some as a possible September callup, ala Maikel Franco last year. I don’t see it, and think it more likely that he finishes this year strong at AA, comes to spring training with the Phils next year, starts next year at AAA, and then sees the bigs.
UPDATE: if we catch it in time, the Phils have announced that Nola will make his debut next Tuesday, so that answers that one definitively now.
MM: How disappointing has the 2015 season been, with the Phillies holding the worst record in baseball headed into the All-Star break?
MV: Sad to say, not disappointing at all. Everyone expected this team to be bad, and we expected a last place finish. I think that exactly HOW bad they have been is a bit surprising. But when you consider that they never had Cliff Lee, that Chase was never healthy and played awfully, they simply have not had enough quality Major League first division players to compete most nights.
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