Pence out of lineup
No, he has not been traded. At least not yet.
With Tuesday's trade deadline looming and losses in each of the first two games in Atlanta, the Phillies short-lived winning mojo has given way to the reality of what's been a lost season. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will certainly looked to move a player or three in the next 72 hours or so.
Although any two game stretch in the last four months could be broken down in similar fashion, the Phils realize they let an opportunity slip this weekend.
"I don't know how to put a measure on it exactly," Pence said Saturday night. "But it's not good."
While the injuries tell some of the story, it's pretty shocking to see how far the Phillies have fallen in the last 12 months. Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of the day Pence was acquired in a pre-trade deadline deal with Houston.
The Phils had a major league-best 66 wins at this point last year en route to a franchise record 102 wins; they led baseball in victories for the second consecutive season.
Flash forward a year and only four teams in the National League have fewer wins than the Phillies (45-56). The Phillies have gone from having the best record in baseball to the seventh worst record in baseball in the last 12 months.
"It's difficult to understand how we got here from there," Pence said. "If I knew, I would change things to have been playing better. Sometimes that's baseball. It's a funny way of... The season's not over yet. We're not saying that. In the situation we're in, sometimes everything goes wrong and sometimes everything goes right."
Pence may or may not be around to find out what happens next.
While soon-to-be free agents Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton and Juan Pierre are far more likely to get traded, the Phils are at least listening in on Pence. And since inquiring teams know they would have him for next year, too (Pence is under team control through 2013), he is more attractive to said inquiring teams.
The flip side of that, of course, is that the Phils would acquire a bigger prospect haul in return. With more than a few holes to fill for 2013 (center field and third base, namely), it might benefit the Phils to move Pence now for younger, cheaper talent ready to step into one of those soon-to-be vacancies.
The Phils payroll in 2013 (they would have $150 million tied up to 11 players if they kept Pence) almost guarantees they have to make a deal that subtracts significant salary some time between now and the beginning of next season. Some have suggested moving Cliff Lee in the wake of Cole Hamels' new contract; but that makes little sense in the long run.
Both Pittsburgh and San Francisco reportedly have interest in Pence, however. Both also have top center field prospects in Starling Marte and Gary Brown, respectively.
Pence was asked if he'd be surprised if the Phils went into sell-mode.
"That's not for me to have any say," Pence said. "I'm here to play as hard as I can for us to win. That's all I can focus on."
But it's also worth wondering if the Phils have showed enough to the front office that they can still breathe life into a season that's seen them in last place for all but five days since May 5.
"In baseball, there have definitely been comebacks of this sort," Pence said. "If I was to look at this team, the way our pitching is pitching and having the guys come back, I would say yes. Joe pitched outstanding. The bullpen is really coming together. Once Doc (Halladay) came back, (Kyle Kendrick) has been real good. We've had some young guys come up big. You can definitely see the potential is there."
But time has all but ran out for the Phillies with the trade deadline clock clicking louder by the second.