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First-half failures leaves Phillies looking ahead

Published on NewsOK Modified: July 14, 2014 at 11:07 am •  Published: July 14, 2014
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A couple of five-game winning streaks offered a glimpse of what the Philadelphia Phillies thought they'd be this season.

The rest of the first half proved they're not a contender.

Despite having the highest payroll at $184 million in franchise history and third-highest in the majors, the Phillies are last in the NL East at the All-Star break. They're 42-53 and trail division leaders Washington and Atlanta by 10 games.

"Not pleased with the record," manager Ryne Sandberg said before the four-day break began. "Showed spurts of improvement as of late. I've had a glimmer of hope with the stretches we've had. Getting everybody back and seeing what we can do, full strength. That's kind of where my head's at going into the second part of the season."

It certainly looks like the Phillies are headed toward an overhaul that should start this month if general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., can deal key players to contending teams before the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31.

Right fielder Marlon Byrd might be the first to go. Byrd hit .263 with a team-best 18 homers and had 54 RBIs. Closer Jonathan Papelbon already said he wants to go elsewhere. Papelbon has been excellent, converting 22 of 24 saves while posting a 1.21 ERA.

Cliff Lee, who hasn't pitched since mid-May, will be an attractive commodity if he shows he's healthy. Cole Hamels, the 2008 World Series MVP, would likely get the Phillies the most return. But he's still young enough to be part of rebuild so he's likely to stay. A.J. Burnett might be the only starter to go anywhere.

Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins have no-trade clauses and aren't eager to leave. Ryan Howard's contract and declining production means he's staying.

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