We are back again with our weekly 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag.  Each week we take your questions and answer them on The Sports Bash with Mike Gill.  Tune in Tuesday afternoons to listen as we discuss your questions!

Why are we excited about being 44-44, is the bar that low for the 2021 season?
~John

The Phillies entered Sunday with the possibility of reaching the .500 mark.  But hours before, we learned that the Phillies would be without starter Aaron Nola, out for COVID-19 protocols.  Thanks to the heroics of Ranger Suarez, the Phillies gutted out a victory to hit the .500 mark heading into the break.

I think the reason fans are so excited is that this ship seems to be turned around in the right direction.  The Phillies bottomed out at four games under the .500 mark after losing game one of a June 25 doubleheader against the New York Mets.  The series as a whole was disappointing, splitting four winnable games.

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Then the Phillies lost a game to the Reds and split two against the Marlins.  It was not exactly inspiring.

But then the Phillies managed to take two of three against San Diego, three of four against the Chicago Cubs, and two of three against the Boston Red Sox. What was different with that stretch?

This was a stretch some felt would close out the season and make the Phillies sellers at the trade deadline.  Instead, the Phillies climbed back up to the .500 mark.  The reason for the success might have been a full Phillies lineup.

After injuries that seemed to be constant to the likes of Jean Segura, Bryce Harper, Didi Gregorius, and J.T. Realmuto, the Phillies have all four healthy.  Also healthy is Andrew McCutchen, who has been stellar since the calendar hit June.  McCutchen seems to be hitting his stride after his 2019 ACL injury.

So the Phillies appear to be able to hang with good times like the Padres and Red Sox, and they're healthy.  They are also just 3.5 games out of first place.

It's not a convincing, dominant lead or anything.  But it's just enough to perhaps help the Phillies stay relevant.  And with a core of Harper, Realmuto, Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola, the Phillies have a chance.

Do you see the Phillies going after Craig Kimbrel? If not who do you think or want them to go after?
~Rocky

I think that the Phillies will definitely check in on the likes of Craig Kimbrel.  But I am just not sure that the Phillies have what it would take to get Craig Kimbrel.  The Cubs closer has suddenly returned to form after signing a three-year deal with the Cubs after the 2018 Boston Red Sox season that ended in a World Series Victory.  He will not be cheap.

The Phillies prospect list contains two bigger names: 2020 First Round Draft Pick Mick Abel, and 2019's First Round Draft Pick Bryson Stott.   Beyond that there is not a lot.  I think the Phillies would like to keep both Abel and Stott and not include them in any deal.

Therefore, I think other teams could outbid the Phillies for Kimbrel.

I do not have any particular targets in mind; it's easy to look at the rosters of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Colorado Rockies and see what could help the Phillies.  I tend to think they'll be looking at the Joakim Soria and Daniel Bard-type relievers who are veterans but won't cost a lot.

It's not that I don't want the Phillies to get better players; I just think that the 2021 season is one where the Phillies need to let the younger players in the system rise and show their value as prospects, without giving up on many as possible.

Therefore, I can see the Phillies seeing what Mickey Moniak or Adam Haseley types can land the Phillies.

Would trading Andrew McCutchen make sense if the return was worth it ?
~JB

While I certainly understand that some teams have bought and sold at the same time, I am not sure that this Phillies team, midseason, would do so.  If the Phillies were out of the race, I think that the team would most certainly see what McCutchen would bring the Phillies in trade.

However, McCutchen has been an integral part of the recent Phillies resurgence, and they will need that to continue if the Phillies are going to overtake the Mets in the National League East.

Subtracting McCutchen could also hurt team morale, as he is a popular veteran presence among the players.  While McCutchen does not have a World Series to go with his MVP history, he remains someone players look up to.  I think it would be a mistake to trade McCutchen, if the Phillies are going to try to win.

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