BACK IN 2008, the Phillies entered the final week in May with a modest 27-24 record and didn't look much like a team that would go on to win the World Series, break the curse and bring Philadelphia its first major sports title in a quarter century.

Over that last week and into June, they went 14-4 to go a season-high 13 games over .500. But then, they slumped to finish the month 3-11 and sat on a confusing 44-39 record that left many wondering if they had what it took.

Few would have faulted then-general manager Pat Gillick had he started shopping around parts.

But the Phillies were in striking distance and Gillick believed in his team. So he waited.

He waited with a team that had pitchers Jamie Moyer, Brett Myers and — wait for it — ADAM EATON in the rotation.

Gillick waited with J.C. Romero as his setup man, Pedro Feliz at third base, a fading Pat Burrell in left, an untested Jayson Werth, who started the year platooning with Geoff Jenkins in right, and Greg Dobbs and Eric Bruntlett as pinch-hitters and utility men

Who could've imagined in June that Gillick's sticking with that group would result in a fabulous October day on Broad Street?

That's not to say that the current Phillies can, should, or will make a similar run. In fact, I'm starting to feel a little silly and a bit homerish in my prediction that the Phillies will beat the Los Angeles Angels in the World Series.

A 23-24 record with most of the wins coming against scrubs like the New York Mets and Miami Marlins doesn't inspire confidence.

Still, that's not the point.

Despite their struggles, the Phillies are 5 games behind the Atlanta Braves in the National League East. That is far from an insurmountable deficit with so much baseball to play.

So while Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. constantly saying "We'll wait and see" isn't the most imaginative course of action, it is still the most prudent given the circumstances.

There is a significant fan base that has no confidence left in Amaro or manager Charlie Manuel, and a roster loaded with aging and declining players.

Rather than holding out hope that the Phillies can become a repeat of the World Series-reaching "Wheeze Kids" of 1983, they say blow it up now and start stocking up for the future.

Trade second baseman Chase Utley, starter Cliff Lee, shortstop Jimmy Rollins and closer Jonathan Papelbon and restock a decimated minor league system.

Eat as much of the money as possible to move the contract of first baseman Ryan Howard so it does not become a complete albatross around the Phillies' neck for the next 5 years.

All of those are sound suggestions, and not too far down the road, they may be the correct ones. But but not on May 23; not when the Phillies have 23 of the next 36 games against teams with losing records.

If the Phillies can get through the next seven games with Washington and Boston with three or four wins, June will be the month when things come into clearer focus.

If the Phillies can't make significant strides having just six of 28 games in June against teams with winning records (three each with Colorado and Washington), then "We'll see" will become "We've seen enough."

Lee, Papelbon, Utley, Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, and Michael Young should have the same, if not more value, in July when legitimate contenders compete to add pieces to enhance their positions.

Ultimately, it may be in the best interest of the Phillies to pull the plug on this era, but waiting until July to decide doesn't hurt anything.

Email:smallwj@phillynews.com