The Phillies are last team standing on top at the trade deadline. Again.
This time last year, the Phillies added hot pitcher Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians, a grizzled lefty coming off a 2008 Cy Young Award. In the process, the Phillies dumped future prospects while bolstering an already decent rotation with 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels.
Lee added to his legend by posting a 5–0 record, 39 strikeouts in 40 innings pitched, and a 0.68 ERA in his first five Phillies' games down the stretch to a stellar 2009 World Series performance.
The problem, to most diehards, was no World Series. Ruben Amaro Jr., the Phillies' general manager, wanted to supplant the struggling Cole Hamels and helped set up a lethal rotation for years to come.
Another problem, was dealing with money. Aging veteran Jamie Moyer was owed $9 million dollars in 2010, and contracts wavering over hitters Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth put the organization into a corner negotiating the future of Lee.
Amaro solved his problems instantly by hooking his main fish--Roy Halladay, another AL Cy Young Award winner (2003) of the Toronto Blue Jays. The cost? Dealing more minor leaguers including first round pick Kyle Drabek.
The story of 2010 has been the roller coaster standings ride, frustrating fans and the Philadelphia media, entering the season with heavy expectations from two-time defending National League Champions. Aside from a subpar offense this year, the injuries to Jamie Moyer, J.A. Happ, and Ryan Madson have plagued the pitching. With Chase Utley shelved until Labor Day, they've been on brink of going over the edge in the standings or going overboard on selling the house, such as Jayson Werth, who becomes a free agent after 2010.
Now Amaro is going big or going home with this deal. Oswalt solidifies the rotation, and with the positive numbers on his career in the second half of the season, (56-16), there are reasons to get amped for a top of the line pitcher. He's a few months younger than Halladay, and with playoff experience under his belt with teammate Brad Lidge, the locker room should gel in competing for that coveted third straight National League crown.
Questions will linger off of Oswalt and his endurance heading into the future. With his last 'reported' shot July 7, it seems coincidental that he pitched a one hit shutout against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
If fans want this chapter to close on a good note, look toward the near future. Chase Utley will return, Jayson Werth may pick up slack after a sluggish mid-summer form, bench players are collecting at bats, and the production of young Domonic Brown might be the best timing in energizing the offense that is now carrying the load for an impressive rotation, just a mere three games out of the NL East and Wildcard.