Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. still isn't sure whether his team will buy or sell at the trade deadline, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com reports. "It’s an important time for everybody in Major League Baseball trying to figure out what they’re going to do," says Amaro. "We’re one of them." Amaro does say, however, that he has been exploring the trade market for outfielders and relievers, although one problem he's encountered while trying to trade for bullpen help is that teams are asking for big-league players in return. At 49-50, the Phillies are currently 6.5 games back in the NL East. Here's more on the Phillies.
- The Phils need to stop using fans' identification with their current stars as an excuse not to look toward the future, argues FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal stops short of saying that the Phillies should be sellers at the deadline, but points out that the Phillies are already overpaying for some veteran players, and have kept some past their sell-by date. Many of their best-known players (such as Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jonathan Papelbon) are about to enter or have entered their mid-30s, and are showing signs of decline.
- Papelbon's enormous contract has made the Phillies' bullpen an unbalanced one, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer argues. The $50MM the Phillies are spending on Papelbon forces them to skimp on the rest of their bullpen, and Gelb argues that the Phillies would have been better served to spend that money on four relievers, rather than on just one. Another reason Papelbon's contract is problematic, he says, is because long-term contracts for closers are a bad idea in general — he cites research from ESPN indicating that only three teams have the same closer in 2013 as they did just two seasons before.