Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/19/12

As Major League Baseball's trading deadline nears, the Phillies could probably turn to the private investigator's manual for advice: all of the pieces matter, from soon-to-be free agent Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco and Joe Blanton, along with the bounty of young players or prospects they could get in return if they decided to trade the established veterans on the current roster.

Following a 4-2 road trip to begin the season's second half, the Phillies' season has reached a fork in the road. When they take the field on Friday to begin a six-game homestand against the San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks, the Phils' front office will be staring at the ticking clock. There will be only 11 days until the trade deadline.

The Phillies (41-52) started Thursday 14 games behind the first-place Washington Nationals in the National League East. They are 11 games back of the second wild card spot in the National League.

But a team that includes Hamels, a former World Series MVP, two former Cy Young Award winners in Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, the richest reliever in baseball history, Jonathan Papelbon, two former MVPs in Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, and a host of other former All-Stars, including Chase Utley, Hunter Pence, Victorino, Carlos Ruiz and Polanco, isn't expected to go down without a fight.

They don't have to look further back than the 2011 season, when both St. Louis and Tampa Bay crawled their way into the postseason with furious runs in the season's final two months. Tampa was 10 games back in the AL East on August 1, but punched their postseason ticket on the final say of the season. St. Louis was seven games back in the NL Central on Aug. 16 but also advanced to the postseason the season's last day and went on to win the World Series.

"We saw what happened last year in Atlanta with St. Louis getting in and going all the way to win the World Series," Halladay said. "I mean, it's happened before. It's going to be difficult. There's a long way to go and it's a steep hill to climb, but I think there's got to be a positive mentality, especially when you have the players that we have. It's not like we have players that can't compete and can't win. We have those players here. It's just a matter of being able to go out and do it and give ourselves a chance. You look at the way baseball has gone the last few years, there's definitely a chance. I don't think there is any reason to believe there wouldn't be."

But in order to put together a run that would erase the season's disappointing first half, the Phillies won't just need a healthy Halladay, Howard and Utley. They'll need all 25 players on the roster, too.

"We all need to chip in where we can. I think that's important to look at it that way and realize that you're not going to do it yourself," Halladay said. "There's not one guy that's going to do it alone. It's important to keep in mind. We need everybody."

All of the pieces matter. But the biggest piece of all, the one that could shake the foundation of the clubhouse if it's moved before the July 31 trade deadline, is Cole Hamels.

The soon-to-be free agent and the Phillies are attempting to come to an agreement on a contract before the deadline. According to CBSsports.com, the Phils are on the verge of offering a six-year deal in the neighborhood of $130 million.

But if the two sides cannot come to an agreement, and the Phils feel they can't make a run at the postseason in 2012, the team could decide it's better in the long run to deal Hamels for a bounty of prospects now.

"I don't necessarily know if our clubhouse would take that too well," Papelbon said.

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