It is Tuesday so we are back with another 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag.  We take your questions all week long and then discuss them on the Sports Bash with Mike Gill every Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.   Send a question at any time to @FrankKlose on Twitter.

Trade deadline is soon: is Herrera the future or the past? He is getting hot, time to trade him or not for more pitching?

Indeed: the July 31 trade deadline is about seven weeks away.  The Phillies will look to cash in some of their assets to get something in return to help bolster the club's future.  So, you have an excellent point regarding Herrera: if he is not part of the future, the Phillies might consider trading Odubel Herrera.

At the time of Herrera's extension, I noted that the extension might have made him that much more tradeable.  We saw Herrera signed to a new deal that was very close in total years and dollars to what Adam Eaton had on his deal when he was shipped from the White Sox to the Nationals for a king's ransom.  If Herrera could fetch such a return the Phillies would have to at least consider it.

However, an acquiring team would want to make sure that Herrera's poor play is just an aberration.   Herrera batted just .183 in the month of May and bottomed out on May 30 when his season average sat at just .217.   After going 8 for 13 in June, Herrera's average is all the way up to .243, certainly a good sign.

I think before Herrera is a trade consideration, he will have to show over the next seven weeks that he is doing just fine.  After all, contending teams that might be looking for a player at the deadline probably have their own Odubel Herreras right now who are under-performing.  They are also waiting to see if they can snap out of it.

The Phillies will not offer Herrera at a discount.  However, if a team is willing to step up and pay a big price like the Nationals did for Eaton, the Phillies would be foolish not to make a move.  It only takes one team to make a big offer and the Phillies just may accept.  They showed with Ken Giles that they are not shy of making a deal for a big return.

If I am the Phillies I would have no problem using Aaron Altherr as the club's center fielder. I think he can handle the position very capably, and having a bat like that in center really can take the team a long way.  Roman Quinn could also probably handle center but he is sidelined once again with another injury.

Do Kendrick and Saunders finish the year in Philly? Does Ty Kelly?

The Phillies will do what they can to cash out any short-term assets for long-term ones once they hit the trade deadline.  The veteran players that are performing will likely get some attention as we approach the July 31 deadline.   Those players extend behind Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders.

Kendrick is probably a good bet to move.  Kendrick has done nothing but given the Phillies professional at bats and could slide into a contender's lineup right away.  He can play left field, second base, first base, and even some third base if a team needed to put him there.  He would profile great on a National League contender who could use a versatile player and hopefully a designated hitter in the World Series.  I would expect he be moved.

Saunders I think is going nowhere.  The reason that I think Saunders stays until the end of the year is that he has shown little to no value for a contending team.  The Phillies may have him until the very end.  However, if the team calls up prospects such as Dylan Cozens or Nick Williams and they need a corner outfield spot, the Phillies will just put Saunders on the bench.  Saunders is batting just .218 and will continue to lose playing time as the outfield will likely be Herrera, Altherr, and Kendrick in the immediate future.

One name that probably will be a commodity is reliever Pat Neshek.  Neshek already once made the All-Star team as a set-up man and could do so once again. Neshek has allowed only two earned runs - the fluke foul pole home run to Michael Taylor back on May 14, giving Neshek a 0.84 earned run average.  The Phillies may get interest from Joaquin Benoit, too, should he return from the disabled list and pitch has he has.

As for Ty Kelly: his presence is more a testament to the failure of Brock Stassi to produce in the Major Leagues.  The Phillies needed a backup infielder after Kendrick hit the disabled list which is why the Phillies grabbed Kelly to begin with.  Once Kendrick and Nava had returned, there was a full offensive staff.

But Stassi, who is mainly just a first baseman, was batting under .200, something the Phillies could not keep around.  If a player is going to hit around .200 (like Kelly is), he had better be versatile in the field.

Can the season get any worse then it already is?

This would depend upon what you felt was the original objective of the 2017 season to begin with.  If you are looking at the season from the perspective of a team trying to make the playoffs, then yes, this is a colossal failure. But the real purpose of the 2017 season was to evaluate what the Phillies had on the Major League level already, while prospects continue to develop in the minors.

We knew that the following were simple placeholders for later, and not parts of the long-term solution: Benoit, Neshek, Jeremy HellicksonClay Buchholz, Kendrick, and Saunders.  How they perform (or do not) are only relevant to the future in that they may be traded for some future considerations.  Some will not (Buchholz) and others may stay all year (see above).

Then there were the players that the Phillies needed to know if they were part of the long-term solution: Tommy JosephCesar Hernandez, Andrew Knapp, Hector Neris, Edubray Ramos, Joely Rodriguez, Zach Eflin, Jerad Eickhoff, Aaron Altherr, and to a certain extent Maikel Franco and Aaron Nola.  The Phillies have prospects that could play the positions these players currently play (except for Franco) and the Phillies needed a clearer picture of where they were going.

Falling somewhere in between include Cameron Rupp, Jeanmar Gomez, and Freddy Galvis as players that could go either way.

The Phillies have a boatload of prospects still developing.  Some will work out and some will not.  Some of the players currently on the roster may work out and some will not.  If the Phillies can get to the end of the 2017 season and can come up with some definitive answers about any of the players not in the veteran category, then consider this season a success.

It could be way worse: the New York Mets were supposed to contend for the National League East and had their sights on the World Series.  The dream starting rotation is mostly hurt, and the Mets are talking fire sale instead of gearing up for a playoff run.  High expectations, low output.  That would be much worse.

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