Over the past few years the Philadelphia Phillies have been a powerhouse team in Major League Baseball. Continuously getting in to the playoffs seems to be a routine for them and in 2008 and 2009 when they made it to back to back World Series, and winning one of them, they were the Miami Heat of MLB.. The problem lurking in the background was that their core players were in their prime.
Fast forward four years, and you find that that same powerhouse team, with that same core players are in last place in the NL East division, arguably one of the easier divisions in the MLB. As a general Manager and manager of a ball club, you have to do something to spark a run, and get the team back on the right track. The Phillies are 14 games out of first place, and at this point its hard to see the red and white in the playoffs this year. With that being said, the only thing left to do in the front office is to prepare for next season.
It appears that Cliff Lee will stay put for the moment, however, the Phil's unloaded Shane Victorino to the Dodgers and Hunter Pence to the Giants. Victorino was part of that Phillies core that dominated the competition, but he's now 32. Hunter Pence was acquired last season by the Astros, and served Philly well, but he is also showing his age, and at the end of this year, he would be owed $14 million, which would add to the 123.5 committed salaries across seven players (Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Jimmy Rollins, Jonathan Papelbon).
That's obviously a move to clear some cap space, but it also could be some signs that the Phil's want prospects, and obviously that's what they got in return, but they also want to get younger. Even though Pence is 29, there are more and more hot prospects such as 18-year-old Bryce Harper and has a long way to go before he hits his prime. Because of that, the Phil's may want to get into the mix, with a division that has the likes of Stephen Strasburg, Harper, Matt Harvey, Ike Davis, Tommy Hanson, and the Marlins, who need no explanation.
It's obvious that the Phillies are the oldest team in the NL East, and even though they were at the top of the leaderboards for the past few years, they see themselves at the bottom of the food chain struggling to keep up with the younger prospects that come into the league. They need to get younger, acquire salary cap space, and prospects.
Now that Lee looks like he will be with the Phillies for the remainder of the year, every day there are reports out on why they should keep them.
It appears that the Phil's have a plan for the future, and that's to catch up with their peers. It will take time considering they're unfamiliarity with this sort of problem. After the horror of 2012 passes, and Opening Day 2013 rolls around next April, the Phillies will be a much younger ballclub.