We are back once again with the 97.3 ESPN Phillies Mailbag.  Each week we take your questions and answer them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.  Tune in Tuesdays at 2:40 to see if your question makes it to the air.

Who to cheer for? Giants or Braves? My guess is Braves because more head to head.
~David

I think before all else, the Phillies simply need to win their own games.  While it's true the Phillies are currently three games behind the Braves in the standings, the Phillies and the Braves have the ability to make the playoffs under the new three-wild card system.

The National League has three teams in the N.L. West, two in the N.L. Central, and three in the N.L. East.  Can two Wild Cards come from the NL East?  Only if there are not two in the NL West, or if one comes from the central.

I think the disadvantage in the N.L. West is that the Giants, Padres, and Dodgers all play each other plenty.  Therefore, if the Giants can take some games from the Braves now, that might help later when the Phlilies, Mets, and Braves play each other a lot.

But at the end of the day: The Phillies just have to do what they need to do in their own games.  Otherwise, it will not matter.

Do you pick up the $17 million option for Segura next year? If not what would you like to see?
~Ryan

I would not.  Jean Segura has been a really nice player for the Phillies these past few years.  However, I do not think second base is going to be a place the Phillies will spend a lot of money.  Segura's free agency will come at the same time as that of Didi Gregorius, and I think the combination of the two going into free agency will help them chart a path forward.

The good news for the Phillies is that one infield position likely will be covered by Bryson Stott.  It's true that Stott has struggled lately after a hot streak.  But the Phillies and many others believe that Stott will be able to assume either shortstop or second base.  I still tend to think the latter is his long-term future.

There have been some whispers the Phillies will look to add a premium shortstop in 2023.  The big name on the market next year will be Trea Turner and Xander Bogaerts.  The latter, of course, Phillies president Dave Dombrowski knows well from his time in Boston.

Adding yet another high-priced position player might be tough, even if the Phillies are shedding $28.75 million spent on Gregorius and Segura this year ($28 million average annual value).

But even if the Phillies do not add a premium player up the middle, having Stott allows the Phillies to address other needs as he can play either position.  The Phillies have some options; I tend to think it will be someone other than Segura playing second base next year.

It's obvious Phillies biggest needs are: 1. Closer 2.Bullpen (backend type) 3.Defense upgrade overall Question is do they part with any or how many top prospects, in a system that isn't rich in talent?
~Kevin

At this point, I think the Phillies shopping list heading into the trade deadline would be bullpen help but also a starting pitcher.

Someone who can play center field might be nice, but I am not sure what exactly is available.  Maybe Kevin Kiermaier, should he recover from the two injuries he has had this past week, since he could be salary relief to the Rays down the stretch.  Cedric Mullins has been a name thrown around a lot, but I think he will cost more than the Phillies can spend.

And I do not mean money, which you seem to understand.  There is not much in the Phillies cupboard to trade.  They have three top-100 prospects in pitchers Mick Abel, Andrew Painter, and catcher Logan O'Hoppe.  They will not be trading them.

One prospect they could move, thanks to their catching depth, is Rafael Marchan.  But Marchan is finally beginning his season after missing Spring and the first two-plus months to injury.  So it will be hard to determine his real value right now.

Prospects like pitcher Francisco Morales might be what the Phillies have to trade this year.  Could be enough to get them a reliever.  I'm not sure it'll bring a lock-down closer.  Maybe Hans Crouse could get flipped towards a starter.

But looking down the line of the Top 30 Prospects list on MLB Pipeline, it seems clear that the Phillies might have to take on someone's money to make a deal.