NEW YORK - Four and a half years ago, the Phillies had a team chock-full of highly paid veterans but an organization lacking in near major league-ready talent on the farm.
So coming off back-to-back World Series appearances, Ruben Amaro Jr., who had worked out a deal to bring Roy Halladay to Philadelphia, traded Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for a package of three minor league prospects.
Yesterday, nearly a half-decade later, the lessons from that trade, an unmitigated disaster, were briefly on display at Citi Field, where the Phillies were on the wrong end of a 11-2 drubbing at the hands of the New York Mets on the eve of Major League Baseball's trade deadline.
Phillippe Aumont served up a two-run homer to Lucas Duda in the eighth inning. Aumont, now 25, arrived to the Phillies from Seattle with outfield prospect Tyson Gillies and fellow righthander J.C. Ramirez. Only Aumont remains in the organization, and he has a 5.87 ERA in 26 major league appearances in the last 2 years.
Aumont's contribution was minimal in a game that had already been decided, but it was worth noting since Amaro and the Phillies are expected to be sellers again, moving veteran parts for prospects, prior to today's 4 p.m. deadline.
"I can only speak from my perspective," said Ryan Howard, the most untradable veteran on a team of difficult-to-deal players, because of their hefty contracts, declining abilities and no-trade clauses. "The deadline talk has been going on since the beginning of the month . . . Guys have been through it before. It's something I don't really pay a whole lot of attention to until something happens."
Like Howard, Kyle Kendrick likely won't have to be worried about packing his bags to a contender in the next 24 hours.
Down 1-0, the Mets scored four times in the fifth inning against Kendrick to take control of the game. Kendrick, a free-agent-to-be with a 4.92 ERA, served up a three-run home run to Daniel Murphy.
"One pitch," Kendrick said. "One pitch and a tough loss."
One pitch . . . after another bad pitch that went for a wild pitch, tying the game. One pitch . . . after walking the bases loaded prior to the wild pitch. And one pitch . . . an inning after Ben Revere brought back a home run by climbing the fence to rob Duda.
Kendrick, who had shut out the Mets for the first four innings, became unraveled in the fifth and wasn't able to recover.
"It happened quick," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "He just wasn't able to keep it to one run, keep it at two runs there."
The bullpen, a bright spot since the season's first month, was unable to keep the game within reach after Kendrick's exit. Mario Hollands, Justin De Fratus and Aumont combined to allow five earned runs on eight hits in two innings.
"Part of the game and part of the trick is to do it for a full season," Sandberg said of his young relievers' struggles. "There's some growing to that and some learning as far as that goes, but as of late the stuff hasn't been as crisp."
But the core of the underperforming parts on the Phillies' roster remains in the lineup.
The Phillies scored one run in the fifth, on a two-out double by Howard, who entered the at-bat hitless in his last 12 at-bats. Another run came on a pinch-hit home run by Jimmy Rollins, his 15th home of the season, to begin the seventh.
But when the 3 1/2-hour game came to an end, those two runs were the summation of the Phillies' offense. The Phils have scored two runs or fewer in 41 of their 108 games this year (38 percent).
With the very real possibility of changes coming in the next day, Sandberg was asked if he saw pieces on his current team that were capable of being part of a winning club in the future.
"I think there are a lot of pieces here," Sandberg said. "We have some guys who are going to be here who are a part of the puzzle, who are going to be pieces going forward. No question about that."
It was just difficult to see in a series that was a microcosm of the team's season.
The Phillies were beat up on Monday, when A.J. Burnett gave up seven runs in five innings and the offense only avoided a shutout by scoring a single run in the eighth inning. After Cole Hamels churned out a dominant performance on Tuesday, and got rare run support to boot, the reality check returned in the form of a listless effort in the series finale.
"Just continue to battle," Sandberg said of the goals in the final third that remains of a lost season. "When you have a schedule, you just continue to battle. It becomes goals of catching the teams in front of you, playing better baseball to do that."
The Phillies played the team directly in front of them in the National League East standings this week in New York. In their two losses, the Phils were outscored 18-3.
On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21