BROOKOVER: Phillies players want to push front office to be buyers at trade deadline
In order for the Philadelphia Phillies to be contention-worthy, the one thing they absolutely need to do is become a better road team.
They took a stride in that direction Monday night with a 13-3 victory at Wrigley Field. The Phillies used 11 hits, including five home runs and three doubles, to send the Chicago Cubs to their 10th straight defeat.
Despite their recent struggles, the Cubs are 26-14 at home this season, and the Phillies before Monday were 12-22 on the road against teams with winning home records. With the win over the Cubs, the Phillies improved to 16-26 overall on the road, which is the ninth-worst road record in baseball. The eight teams worse than them all have losing records and six of the eight teams are in last place.
The Phillies have won just one of their 13 road series this season and they have also only won two games in a row on the road one time this season. They have only won three games in a row on the road one time in the last two seasons.
By winning Monday, the Phillies remained 4 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Mets, who beat the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field.
The Phillies will spend this week ahead of the All-Star break playing at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park, the two oldest and most famous ballparks in baseball. They will also spend this week trying to prove to Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski that they are still capable of being a contender despite their uneven trek through the first half of the season.
Deadline looming: If they can climb above .500 and closer to the first-place Mets, Dombrowski will likely be a buyer at the July 31 trade deadline, looking primarily for bullpen help. If they continue to be an abysmal road team and lose even more ground to the Mets, it seems probable that Dombrowski will deal some veteran players in return for prospects.
"I think it starts with this week," first baseman Rhys Hoskins said after contributing his 19th home run of the season and three RBIs to the Phillies' win Monday night. "There's kind of that natural line obviously with the break, but we have this week and obviously a couple weeks before the deadline.
"We know where we stand. We know the Mets are 4 1/2 games up and there are a couple teams right between us, but there have been crazier things that have happened in baseball. That's a good week."
And that's a good point. The Phillies were seven out with 17 games to play when they won the first of their five straight NL East titles in 2007.
"Everybody knows the situation, but I don't know if that changes much what we're trying to do," Hoskins said. "Obviously we're trying to win and we're trying to be in the best situation possible come the All-Star break and come the deadline and come Sept. 1 and then hopefully the playoffs. We have to put pressure on the front office. That's our job as players to see if we can get on a little run here and make them make tough decisions. That's all we can do."
Back at full strength: Hoskins believes the Phillies might be able to turn things around starting with this road trip because their lineup is finally at full strength.
"We have kind of been waiting for everyone to get healthy," Hoskins said. "One guy would come back and another guy would go down. Let's knock on wood and hope that everyone stays healthy, but I think you can just kind of see the depth and the length of the lineup. All of a sudden you have me hitting a little bit further down and you have Didi [Gregorius] hitting fifth today and seventh yesterday. We have a guy [ Alec Bohm] who was third in the rookie of the year voting last year hitting eighth, so there's just length and that wears on opposing pitchers.
"Each one of us has the ability to pop you, too, so there's always a little bit of fear, too. I think [Monday] we kind of got it from everybody, but the design of the lineup is such that someone new gets to be the guy every single night. Obviously we'll rely on our horses, but that's what a deep lineup gives you."
Perhaps it will also give Dombrowski a reason to be a buyer in the coming weeks.