Here's what the Phillies' rebuild should look like

NEW YORK — The Phillies are averaging 3.21 runs per game, the fewest in the major leagues. The Phillies are allowing 4.86 runs per game, the third-most in the major leagues. The Phillies have the fewest wins (tied with the Brewers) and most losses of any major league team. The Phillies are bad.This is not news. The Phillies were supposed to be bad, and they are living up to expectations. Going about returning to the Phillies to being better than bad — good — is the issue at hand. The path to that is the same as the path that brought the 2008 world championship to Philadelphia: building from within. MORE: Top 10 unbreakable baseball records | Worst All-Stars everThe 2008 Phillies had a dozen players worth one or more wins above replacement. Half of those players — Pat Burrell, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Ryan Madson, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley — were homegrown Phillies from the draft all the way up to the majors. Shane Victorino was a Rule 5 draft selection. Brad Lidge came via trade. There were only four free agents: Chad Durbin, Jamie Moyer, J.C. Romero and Jayson Werth — and their combined salary was $11.85 million, with more than half of that being Moyer’s at $6 million. The Phillies have had back-to-back top 10 picks in the draft, selecting right-hander Aaron Nola out of LSU last year and high school shortstop Cornelius Randolph this year. There will be more high picks to come, including a possible No. 1 in 2016. This would be more encouraging for Philadelphia if the Phillies had a strong recent track record at the draft. Nola, recently promoted to Triple-A, looks like he could become the first Phillies first-round pick to make the majors since 2007 selections Joe Savery and Travis d’Arnaud. The Phillies haven’t had a first-round pick rack up double-digit WAR since their run from 1998 to 2002 that included Burrell, Brett Myers, Utley, Gavin Floyd and Hamels.It’s possible that Nola changes that, but the Phillies are going to have a while to wait for enough homegrown talent to be on hand to revive the franchise. In the meantime, the Phillies are on the right track with the way they are building a loser.Hanging on to Hamels until receiving a blockbuster offer is sensible. The lefty ace is signed through 2018 and should draw an excellent return. It’s not even the worst thing in the world if the Phillies don’t trade him this year, as the longer the Phillies hang on to Hamels, the further along in the rebuild they will

be, with better knowledge of needs in the farm system. The Phillies already have developed two players who should be part of the long-term solution: third baseman Maikel Franco, a 22-year-old who hit his eighth and ninth homers of the year in an 11-8 win over the Yankees on Monday, and closer-in-waiting Ken Giles, the 2011 seventh-round pick who is 24 years old.MORE: Hamels fools media by cleaning out locker | Are Amaro, Papbelbon on way out?Rollins and Marlon Byrd were traded over the winter. GM Ruben Amaro Jr.’s mission between now and the end of July is to get the most that he can in return for over-30 players with track records, the kind of guys who interest contenders at the trade deadline. The Phillies have Hamels, Howard, Utley, Andres Blanco, Kevin Correia, Jeff Francoeur, Aaron Harang, Jonathan Papelbon and Carlos Ruiz all fitting that description, with varying levels of past and present performance. This presents an opportunity for the Phillies to add to their farm stocks.“I've been through the process before, where I was the younger player that was traded for the veteran guy to help that team down the final stretch,” said Harang, who went from the A’s to the Reds as part of a deal for Jose Guillen in 2003. “I know (a trade is) a definite possibility, but it's something I can't focus on. I've got to be ready to pitch every time I take the mound, and whatever's going to happen is going to happen. It's out of my control.”In the meantime, Harang knows his role, and that the best way he can help the Phillies is in the clubhouse — winning games is secondary, because even though Harang has a 3.41 ERA and 1.116 WHIP, he’s on a terrible team that hardly scores runs, so his record is 4-9.“You understand you go about doing what you can do and leading by example, being there to answer questions that younger guys have had,” Harang said. “The experiences, rough or good, what they're going through, be there to help out. It's one of those things, as you get older, become an older player, there are players who did the same thing for you when you were younger, and it's a pay-it-forward process to be the guy that's there to help guys when they're having their struggles.”These are the kind of players the Phillies should be targeting in free agency over the next few winters. Someone like Harang can be had on a one-year deal, can tutor younger players and can help the franchise in the longer term by being flipped to a contender. The selling point for such a player to come to Philadelphia would be having a good chance of winding up on a contending team in the second half of the season.The other way the Phillies should be adding players, in addition to the amateur draft and international signings, is by targeting players not wanted by other teams. That is how Philadelphia got its starting center fielder, Odubel Herrera, a Rule 5 draft pick out of the Rangers' system who had never played above Double-A before this season.Herrera is hitting .249/.281/.362 and is at minus-0.2 WAR, but at 23 and given his lack of experience, he has shown enough to provide belief in his ability to develop further.“What I want to do is be here in the big leagues,” Herrera said. “That was my goal, and now I’ve got to keep going. It’s part of the learning process. We’re here to play hard, and we’ll keep going and stay positive, keep playing hard. I’m so happy that they’ve given me the opportunity and I’m here.”PHOTOS: Best batting stances in baseball historyThe in-season way to find players looking for an opportunity is waivers. Anytime someone gets designated for assignment, the Phillies should be paying attention. Someone who might thrive if only given the chance at regular playing time in the major leagues could easily be out there. If it doesn’t work out, the only thing the Phillies have to lose is more games.At the same time, the Phillies can see what they have with minor leaguers who might not be big prospects but have something to offer. Adam Morgan, a 25-year-old left-hander, was 0-6 with a 4.74 ERA and 1.580 WHIP in Triple-A this year when the Phillies called him up. In his major league debut Sunday, Morgan held the Cardinals to one run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings, with six strikeouts.“Every (weight) lift, every set, everything is striving for this,” Morgan said. “To get this opportunity, it's an amazing feeling. It shows that the Phillies believe in me enough to call me up to the big leagues. Not many people get this opportunity. I'm definitely trying to take advantage of it.”The Phillies are in a position to provide those opportunities. They should keep doing it, and try to find the players who can be part of the next good Philadelphia team.