The Players, They Could Be A-Changin'

The Phillies figure to be active as the trading deadline approaches and teams are asking about a number of Phillies players on the current 25 man roster, in addition to top prospects. Plus, during the offseason, the Phillies will potentially have a number of key free agents and more than their share of minor leaguers pushing their way toward the majors.

Take a good look at the Phillies team that is on the field now, because it could change considerably.

It's possible that a couple current faces could exit in the coming weeks. A number of teams have asked about Jason Michaels, Chase Utley, Brett Myers and Ryan Madson when the Phillies talk trade. While it's not likely that the Phillies would part with any of those players, it's also not out of the question. Tampa Bay reportedly loves Brett Myers, as do other teams. The Phillies have been watching Carl Crawford and would have a tough decision to make if they decided Crawford was the guy they really wanted and the D'Rays stuck to asking for Myers. Utley seems to be the second baseman of the future and the Phillies are unlikely to move him, especially with Placido Polanco eligible for free agency at the end of the season. Losing Madson would hurt the bullpen and defeat the purpose of trading for a reliever, so he's not likely to go anywhere. Michaels might be the most likely of the bunch to be dealt and with his recent increase in playing time, the list of interested teams is likely to grow.

Another name that comes up in some discussions is Placido Polanco. There are teams out there that love Polanco's versatility and his team approach to the game. Would the Phillies deal him? They wouldn't give him away, but with Utley in the wings, moving Polanco wouldn't be out of the question.

Past this season's trading deadline is another road leading to change.

Kevin Millwood and Eric Milton are both free agents at the end of the season. Millwood is likely a goner, but the Phillies are interested in keeping Milton. They'll try to sign him before free agency, but Milton, having a career year, might be tempted to enter free agency to see what's out there. Word is that he has become pretty enamored with Philadelphia and will certainly consider returning to the Phillies either by signing a long-term deal during the season or as a free agent after the season.

In the bullpen, Rheal Cormier and Roberto Hernandez are both free agents after the season. Hernandez will join Millwood as a likely goner. Cormier will be a more interesting decision. He hasn't been nearly as effective this season as he was in 2003, but he's a left-hander and the Phillies don't really have anyone to play his role. There may be guys out there that they could either sign or trade for, but it's also possible that they will re-sign Cormier based on the comfort level that they have with him and that he has with the organization and pitching coach Joe Kerrigan. Another situation to watch is Billy Wagner. The Phillies closer has one more season before free agency, but since he was traded in the middle of a multi-year contract, he can demand a trade. Will he exercise that option? It's almost impossible to know, but there are some whispers that Wagner isn't completely happy in Philadelphia and might decide to ask for a trade to go elsewhere. Wagner's situation is a key situation to watch and could really throw a monkey wrench into plans if he did decide to ask for a trade.

Of the regular players, only Polanco is eligible for free agency. Jimmy Rollins is eligible for arbitration and has rebuffed the Phillies efforts to sign him long-term. There is no reason to believe that he'll change his tune and he will likely settle for steady raises through arbitration and then test free agency when the time comes (after the 2006 season). The Phillies though could consider moving Rollins in the right deal. That possibility would only become likely if Anderson Machado - hitting .256 at AAA - would show the Phillies that he could step in and do all that Rollins does for the major league club.

The bench could take a big hit. Doug Glanville, Shawn Wooten, Ricky Ledee, Tomas Perez and Todd Pratt are all eligible for free agency. Glanville and Wooten are gone and either could potentially be gone before the end of the season, especially Wooten. Pratt and Perez seem to be pretty happy with their situation and the Phillies are happy with both of them. It's not out of the question that either or both of them could be re-signed without too much difficulty. The real issue will be Ledee. After breaking in with tons of potential and stardom predicted for him at every turn, Ledee has never achieved anything close to what was predicted. After his successful run as a Phillies utility player, Ledee is likely to look for full-time employment and could very well find it. If you're a Ricky Ledee fan, odds are you won't have him around for too much longer, unless the Phillies decide to give him the center field job on a full-time basis and that's not likely to happen.

Keep in mind too that players like Josh Hancock, Greg Kubes, Dan Giese, Ryan Howard and Gavin Floyd are at varying degrees of major league readiness and the Phillies will have some decisions to make on when to bring them to the majors. Hancock, Kubes and Giese are considerable trade bait in the very near future. Howard likely needs a full season at AAA next year and the Phillies insist that Floyd is close, but needs more time at AA before he is moved anywhere. Of course, there are other minor league players pushing their way toward the top and some of them, like Anderson Machado, will be interesting decisions. Machado could potentially become Tomas Perez if the Phillies decide not to bring back the popular utility infielder.

If you're the type of person who doesn't deal well with change, with the trading deadline approaching and a potential off-season full of moves, you might not be a very happy camper.

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