It must have been agonizing coming to work while taking the mound every fifth day, but this is what happened to a notable ace on a formidable roster in Houston, realizing misery reducing the reliance and excitement. They are a perfect landing spot for the disgruntled Roy Oswalt, a veteran right-hander who needed a change of scenery and a chance to contend for a championship.
The trade was bound to happen as the non-waiver trade deadline loomed ever so closer, but the Philadelphia Phillies weren’t the frontrunners in grabbing a stud pitcher to strengthen a depleted and wobbly rotation.
Philadelphia though is a town that can use a pitching tandem to solidify the starting rotation and take the pressure off Roy Halladay, a dominant strikeout specialist who easily can reach a historic milestone and shatter the 3,000 strikeout plateau.
At the moment, the Phillies benefit at the trade deadline, acquiring the necessary and impressive prize in retooling an essential department during a tight, tense pennant race. As we all know now, Phillies fans are thrilled and fortunate to witness the shrewd skills of Philies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr., who has a knack for stealing the biggest prizes on the market.
The brand of the Phillies is remodeling in the midsummer, a time when rumors run rampant, but it's also a time Amaro revitalizes the pitching department. His blockbuster trades have become a habit each summer. He brought in Cliff Lee a year ago but later foolishly traded the former Cy Young winner to Seattle.
Months later, the Phillies were gusty buyers after landing Roy Halladay in the Cliff Lee-to-Seattle exchange. Amaro, Jr., has proven to be the smartest executive in a draining, complex business in positioning the Phillies as the favorite for a third straight World Series appearance in October.
Land an elite hurler and he’s referred as Mr. October, nothing more than an executive erecting prosperity to enrich the Phillies’ capacity and amass postseason supremacy. In the past year, no team has had much success as the Phillies, also in the past year, no team has pulled off the inconceivable moves like the Phillies.
All the busy days were a boon, when the Phillies were aggressive and intrigued an unhappy pitcher after he pleaded for a new home with postseason implications. He carefully weighed options and waived his no-trade clause Thursday to be dealt for left-handed starter J.A. Happ and two prospects, outfielder Anthony Gose and shortstop Jonathan Villar.
“I’m glad it worked out for both of us. I wanted to go to a contender, and Houston gets some good prospects in return who will hopefully allow them to build a winning team,” Oswalt said. “The hardest part about it is cleaning out my locker. I’ve been in the same place for 10 years and having to say goodbye and clean out the locker is the toughest part."
The acquisition of Oswalt gives the Phillies an additional ace needed for a successful chase for the pennant.
“We’re trying to do what we can to get back to the World Series and win it,” Amaro said whose usual trend as general manager is reforming a much-improved club into World Series champs.
“He’s pretty excited about coming here,” Amaro said.
In the end, apparently, the Phillies benefit in a convenient deal, collecting sizable cash and a three-time All-Star who has a 143-82 record in nearly 10 seasons with Houston, where he arrived after being selected in the 23rd round of the 1996 amateur draft.
“I’m at a point in my career where I just want a chance to get back to the World Series like I did in ’05 with Houston,” he told ESPN.com. “I’m excited to be going to Philly. I love watching Roy Halladay pitch, and I think with him and (Cole) Hamels, the three of us can feed off each other.”
By trading for Oswalt, the Phillies, who currently trail the Atlanta Braves by 3.5 games, instantly rise into contention and can easily make a run at a third straight World Series appearance.
If the Phillies revitalize and return to championship form with good health and consistency, they could very well be a tough out in the postseason. But right now, the Phillies are anything but cohesive and healthy. They're missing second baseman Chase Utley and outfielder Shane Victorino, two essential ingredients necessary for their postseason run.
In Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels, the Phillies now have arguably the best 1-2-3 pitching combo in baseball. That means the expectations are higher than ever, and now they hope to reclaim sole possession of first place in the NL East.
Come on, it seems logical. When a team has an intimidating pitching staff, especially when there are two strikeout experts, that team—in this case, the Phillies—should be favored. Baseball is a game built around sturdy pitching staffs and durable bullpens.
Haven’t you noticed five pitchers have thrown no-hitters this season, including the hard-throwing Halladay? Of course, he’s now relieved with the reinforcement of Hamels and Oswalt. It’s almost surprising but amazing how Amaro has built a winning franchise.
The Phillies get to experience the excitement and jubilation of postseason success almost every fall because of management's desire and hunger to make the necessary moves to stay in the pennant race. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be, a team willing to win year after year after year?
In Philly, a franchise residing in the community is suddenly becoming buyers and taking notice of the Yankees traits in purchasing a primary slugger or pitcher at the deadline. That’s exactly how the Phillies are conducting themselves—as a high-marketed franchise with a dauntless psyche in dealing unheard-of prospects for ultimate players to win. In other words, the Phillies have grabbed brilliant ideas from the Yankees.
It’s just a thought.
It’s entirely a no-brainer that Philly is on an earnest pursuit. Still, a significant portion of players are signed to long-term deals, at least through 2011. Maybe that explains why Ryan Howard was given a contract extension, but rather surprisingly, his teammate and longtime shortstop Jimmy Rollins never was offered an extension. Oh, trust me he’ll be given an eventual extension.
By committing a silly blunder for dealing Lee, Amaro learned to appreciate the value and players’ contributions within the franchise. It’s unlikely that he’ll ever make such a clumsy mistake, one that had the Phillies fans gagging each time they’d bite into a Philly cheesesteak sandwich. But really soon, the fans will be enjoying those cheesesteaks while watching three top-tier pitchers dissect the strike zone.
Mark my words.
The Phillies can win it all this year, I wouldn’t doubt it.