It's been a season of truth for the aging Phillies.
Beerleaguer: 2010 NLCS postscript: Wow, they looked old. 2011 NLDS postscript: Yup, they're old. 2012 first-half postscript: They're dead.The sorry state of the hometown nine takes root in the ruinous effects of aging, the short life-cycle of a baseball team and the Phillies' own suspension of disbelief.
One could itemize from there, including the March revelation of Chase Utley's chondromalacia and the likelihood he would never play with the same explosiveness.
In terms of restocking the shelves, they've obviously traded young talent, but the bulk of the prospects moved are still in developing stages and wouldn't have factored in this season. The current situation speaks more to the slim pickins among inherently older and flawed free agents. The Phils, as winners determined to keep winning, became slaves to supply and demand, but didn't necessarily navigate poorly. They could have gone a number of ways at third base after 2009, for example: Chone Figgins, Mark DeRosa, Adrian Beltre, Placido Polanco, among others, some of whom are out of baseball. They chose Polanco, in hindsight, a pretty decent choice. One can say the same about many older acquisitions - Cliff Lee, Raul Ibanez, Roy Halladay, Hunter Pence. The Phils should have won their second World Series in four years last October riding many of these players.
They couldn't have drawn up a much better blueprint to win in 2011.
Everyone's eager to assign blame (that's a greater cultural problem, too). Is it Charlie Manuel? Is it Ruben Amaro Jr.? Is it the players? The fact is, nobody stays on top for long. It's never been done. Good help is hard to find. The Phillies found a way to win, paid to keep what they had, sought help when they needed it and went to the postseason five-straight years.
Losers become winners. Winners become losers. This is normal.