THERE HAVE been numerous events that have led to the Phillies' steady decline. From bad contracts to poor drafts to player-personnel fumbles, the Phillies are in major rebuilding mode. Here are just five things that have helped sink the Phils into their current abyss.
1 The event: Ruben Amaro Jr. becomes general manager, Nov. 3, 2008.
The setup: The Phillies were coming off a World Series championship when general manager Pat Gillick decided to move into an advisory role. Amaro had been an assistant GM for 10 years before his elevation.
What happened: The Phillies experienced an unprecedented methodical decline after winning the World Series. In order, they lost the World Series (2009), lost the LCS (2010), lost in the opening round (2011) and haven't made the postseason since.
Notable: Vegas Vic has the Phillies at 200-1 to win the 2015 World Series, the longest odds of any of the 30 teams in baseball.
2 The event: Trading Cliff Lee, Dec. 16, 2009.
The setup: Lee was acquired at the previous trade deadline and was the Phillies' best pitcher in the playoffs. Lee was 4-0 in the postseason with a pair of complete games. The Phillies lost in the World Series to the Yankees in six. Lee won the two games.
What happened: Just before trading Lee, the Phillies acquired Roy Halladay for prospects Travis d'Arnaud, Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor. Rather than go into the season with Halladay and Lee, the Phillies sent Lee to the Mariners for righthander Phillippe Aumont, outfielder Tyson Gillies and righthander J.C. Ramirez. Halladay agreed to a 3-year extension. Lee, whose contract was due to expire following the 2010 season, was negotiating an extension with the Phillies just before getting dealt. Money, the Phillies said, was not the reason.
Quotable: "If we had just acquired Roy and not moved Lee, we would have been in position to have lost seven of the best 10 prospects in our organization," Amaro said, referring also to the four minor leaguers the Phillies traded to land Lee originally. "That is not the way you do business in baseball . . . There are a variety of reasons to make this move, but more than anything else this is a baseball decision."
3 The event: Ryan Howard tearing his Achilles' tendon, Oct. 7, 2011.
The setup: The Phillies set a team record with 102 wins and were favored to win the World Series. Their first opponent was the Cardinals, who went 23-8 down the stretch to erase a 10.5-game deficit and slip into the postseason as the wild card.
What happened: The Cardinals beat the Phillies, 1-0, in a Game 5 that felt more like a dentist appointment without the Novocain. The Cards scratched out a run in the first inning and Chris Carpenter did the rest. The Phillies managed just three hits and Howard ended his miserable series (2-for-19) by grounding out weakly to second base. Making things worse was that Howard shredded his left Achilles' as he broke from the batters' box. It was the last time the Phillies appeared in the postseason.
Notable: On April 26, 2010, Howard (age 30) was signed to a 5-year, $125 million extension . . . from 2006-11, Howard averaged 44 home runs and 133 RBI. From 2012-14, he's averaged 16 & 65.
4 The event: Trading Hunter Pence, July 31, 2012.
The setup: The Phillies acquired Pence at the trade deadline the year before and he helped the club set a record with 102 wins. But the Phillies lost in the first round of the playoffs and have been struggling ever since.
What happened: When they first acquired Pence, the Phillies were 67-39 and in control of the NL East. A year later, they were 45-57 and 16.5 games out of first place. The Phillies sent Pence to the Giants for Nate Schierholtz,Tommy Joseph and Seth Rosin. Schierholtz is out of baseball, Rosin is in the minors and Joseph can't stay healthy.
Notable: Pence hit .444 (12-for-27) in last year's World Series, his second title with the Giants in three seasons.
5 The event: Roy Halladay's shoulder injury, May 27, 2012.
The setup: Halladay was coming off another marvelous season, going 19-6 and finishing second to Clayton Kershaw in the Cy Young voting. But he was off to a mediocre start by his standards (4-4, 3.58 ERA). "There might be a tick difference in his velocity but it's the consistent execution of the pitches," pitching coach Rich Dubee observed. "He is just not completing his delivery as he has in the past for whatever reason."
What happened: Halladay, in his 11th start of the season, was lifted with shoulder soreness after allowing four runs in two innings in a loss to St. Louis. He was put on the disabled list 2 days later, which happened to be the 2-year anniversary of his perfect game against the Marlins, and missed nearly 2 months.
Notable: In his first two seasons with the Phillies (2010-11), Halladay was 40-16 with a 2.40 ERA. In his last two (2012-13), he was 15-13, 5.15.