If the National League had increased its Wild Card slots to six, instead of two, the Philadelphia Phillies probably still wouldn't qualify for the playoffs this season. After digesting that point, fans know what's left on their plate.
Some potential August trade options (both realistic and those that are stretched through conjecture), along with a few roster 'tryouts' are the only remaining points of interest left in this season.
I don't care what anyone says, I like Juan Pierre. The man is always on base, which puts pressure on opposing pitchers. His .314 batting average and 27 stolen bases are reflective of one of the few players who is having a decent season on this Phillies' team.
Yes, he's no longer a full-time starter. But, keeping him around as an inexpensive extra outfielder next season would be fine by me. He remains a viable option for a contender who needs a 'small ball' specialist.
If Placido Polanco can regain his health, his sound glove work would be useful for any team that wants to play into October.
The three-time Gold Glove recipient still plays fine defense and is capable of handling third base, or second base, as a late-inning defensive replacement. As to whether he will be able to return in time to prove that he's healthy is another question.
Ty Wigginton is a fair utility man. Not possessing a great glove, he does have some pop in his bat. In consideration of his low-cost contract for next season, it's questionable if the Phillies would let him go.
Neither of the three referenced players would bring a great return, but Jonathan Papelbon would. Of course it's unlikely that general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. would deal this former Boston Red Sox player, as he's only pitching through the first season of a four-year ($50 million) contract. Plus, how many teams could afford him?
Jimmy Rollins is still a good defensive player. The offensive part of his game remains inconsistent, to put it politely.
Regardless of the slim shortstop pickings that were available last offseason, I wouldn't have re-signed 'J-Roll'. Similar to Papelbon, it's unknown how many teams would be able to assume his guaranteed contract. Rollins' deal is guaranteed through 2014.
Watching to see if Domonic Brown is going to finally become a full-time Phillie is both interesting and important to next season's plans. Mild points of intrigue regarding former San Francisco Giant Nate Schierholtz's outfield efforts, former Los Angeles Dodger Josh Lindblom's potential development into a set-up man and the nice story of 32-year-old catcher Erik Kratz are all reflective of what this season of dashed dreams has become.
Hardcore fans value this type of analysis. Everyone who is honest knows that speculation has been, is and will always remain a fun part of the game.
The common trait that all seasoned baseball disciples also share is an appreciation for their team during any season and respect for all opponents (and their fans) who have beaten them fair and square.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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