1. Shane Victorino was one hell of a ballplayer. He was their playmaker. A five-tool talent. He made things happen. His career is also admirable in the sense that he willed himself to prominence. Comcast SportsNet has been running his highlights all morning and it’s the one time I wish we had video rights. Vic was a magnet for excitement; The laser-beam throw against Atlanta to preserve Brad Lidge’s perfect season in 2008. The grand slam against CC Sabathia in the NLDS – Vic set the tone for that entire run up to the postseason. Vic owns – for my money – the most underrated moment in Phillies’ history: the tying homer in Game 4 of the NLDS to set up Matt Stairs’ game winner. Not a good Phillie, a great Phillie. Decorated with three Gold Gloves, a pair of All-Star appearances and twice led the Phils in hitting. One could argue he was the Phillies’ best overall player in at least one of the last five seasons, particularly 2011. The Phils can’t replace the playmaking.
2. The biggest failure of the season is that the Phillies are 46-57 and shouldn't be. There are two excuses. First, the volume of injuries and the loss of major players to injury. Second, the remaining players underperformed. That list includes Victorino and Hunter Pence.
3. Ruben Amaro Jr. confirmed the Phillies are under the luxury tax, which means the Phillies’ GM accomplished what he set out to do less than a week after securing Cole Hamels for six more years. Be satisfied and optimistic with what Amaro managed to get on July 31. No reason not to be. We've got time to see how it all pans out. Amaro was dealing with a finite number of clubs who wanted outfield help. The luxury tax issue wasn’t a secret to anyone. The packages were fair. In terms of the Victorino deal, it's pretty hard to sell to a contender and get a Major League player back in return, which they did in Josh Lindblom. Ethan Martin is a prospect, not a throw-in. The deal also included a player to be named later or cash. That's a fair haul for a two-month rental. As for Pence, catching talent is extremely difficult to find. The reports on Tommy Joseph range from positive to extremely positive. I don’t put much stock zeroing in on the stat line of a 21-year-old at Double-A. Nate Schierholtz is a league average baseball player. Seth Rosin is a bonus.
4. How badly must the Phillies have soured on Pence? No question – awkward player, very ugly at times. He’s had a brutal month. But are they taking .289/.357/.486 and 28 homers for granted, which is what Pence produced in 155 games as a Phillie? That’s nothing to sneeze at.
5. The rest of the 2012 season becomes a two-month fantasy camp for Domonic Brown.