The Phillies are, as you well know, awful. Despite the return of Chase Utley and the imminent returns of both Ryan Howard and Roy Halladay, the damage appears done. The Phils sit 12.5 games behind the Nationals in the NL East, which is a taunting task in its own right. That three other teams sit between the Phillies and the division leaders complicates matters considerably. Six teams stand in their way in the Wild Card race, from which they are 6 games adrift.

The time to sell is now for Philadelphia. Be it Cole Hamels or (very much less likely) Cliff Lee, something has to give. Shane Victorino is also a pending free agent who should attract a great deal of trade consideration…were he not playing so very badly.

No team worth their salt is going to consider the recent poor stretch of Shane Victorino a fair representation of his true talent. The trouble is…trade deadline deals aren’t necessarily about true talent. As important as recognizing the likihood of regression and whatever other tall foreheaded truth you can drum out, paying top dollar for a player in the middle of a down season will give most GMs pause.

Shane Victorino is indeed a player in the middle of a down season. The Flyin’ Hawaiian is an excellent baseball player, posting more than 21 Wins Above Replacement since the start of the 2007 season, third most among centerfielders.

Despite only playing 132 games in 2011, it marks the finest year of his fine career. He posted nearly 6 fWAR with a career high in slugging percentage, on-base percentage and weighted-on base average. He hit 17 home runs and stole 19 bases in 22 attempts. He was great. No questions asked, as they say.

2012 is a different case, indeed.

Nobody likes the arbitrary endpoints game but this represents an alarmingly bad stretch for Victorino. His numbers over Zolecki’s cherry-picked slump are grim: .564 OPS, only five walks to go with 12 singles and five doubles in 77 plate appearances.

Will a Major League team balk at acquiring a player based on three weeks worth of numbers? Of course not. It does represent a situation worth monitoring. The numbers before this slump were bad, too. Crashburn Alley looked into his power outage in mid-June, deciding the root of his problems lies in his struggles against right-handed pitching.

As with all players this trade deadline, the potential market is hazy as teams navigate a new collective bargaining agreement with new compensation rules. What kind of contract does a 33-year old centerfielder demand after a down year? The Knobler reminds us that Victorino, like Jimmy Rollins before him, seeks a five-year deal this winter.

Victorino says All the Right Things about playing one game at a time and only focussing on what he can control. Right now, he isn’t really helping his current team nor is he making himself an attractive option to other teams. Not that Shane Victorino doesn’t represent an nice upgrade in center for any number of quasi-contenders (like the Giants, for example) but his play isn’t doing his future any great service.