The Phillies are done, the rest of their season rendered cosmetic, and their high-priced closer, never one to mince words, is getting a little frustrated. Jonathan Papelbon, after pitching a meaningless inning in Philly's embarrassing 12-4 loss just to get some work: "I definitely didn't come here for this."
For the record, the Phils' eighth loss in a row was sealed before Papelbon got in, by an ugly sixth inning that went: Walk, error, bunt single, fly out, error, walk, error, walk, grand slam. The Phillies were swept by the Tigers, after being swept by the Cardinals, after dropping the last two to the Mets. They're a season-low seven games under .500, 11 games out in the NL East, 9.5 out of the wild card. Time to blow the whole thing up? Papelbon thinks so.
In an interview with MLB.com, Papelbon said if the Phillies are going to turn things around, it'll require something like the Red Sox's fire sale.
"It's going to take, in my opinion, a lot," he said. "And in my opinion, I think it's going to have to be something very similar to what the Red Sox went through a couple years ago. From top to bottom."
(In Boston, "top to bottom" included the manager and the GM. You won't find many Phillies fans arguing for more modest changes.)
"I left. Carl [Crawford] left. [Josh] Beckett left. Adrian [Gonzalez] left. Now look at them."
The Red Sox, maybe somewhat miraculously, own
baseball's the AL's best record. These Phillies are not those Red Sox. While Boston was able to clear out its stars, who were underachieving yet still viable, Philadelphia doesn't have much to offer. Ryan Howard's contract is untradeable. Jimmy Rollins has said he has no intentions of waiving his no-trade clause. Even Papelbon, due $26 million through 2015, might be on the downswing—he's lost miles on his fastball, and his strikeout and swing-and-miss rates are significantly down.
Cliff Lee turns 35 next month, and is due $50 million over the next two years, with a $12.5 million buyout clause after that. Ruben Amaro Jr. has been cagey about the possibility of moving Lee.
The most likely to be traded, Michael Young, Chase Utley, and Carlos Ruiz, are all free-agents-to-be. Even with them gone and a team option on Roy Halladay likely declined, the Phillies have $104.5 million in salary committed to 2014, and $97.5 million for 2015. This was not a roster that was constructed with an escape hatch.
Papelbon was asked straight up if he's like to be traded.
"No, I would like to stay here. But if I'm going to have to put up with this year after year, then no, I don't want to be here. Why would you? Why would anybody?"