Philadelphia Phillies: State of the Phils at the 2011 All-Star Break
We are more than half-way through the most anticipated Philadelphia Phillies season ever and technically, we are where we expected to be.
The Phillies have the best record in the majors, the team is beating the teams they are suppose to beat and beating the teams that are on their level, and Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are all living up to the hype.
But the way they have gotten to their record leaves many Phillies fans scratching their heads.
If you're a glass half full kind of person, this shows that Phightin' Phils spirit we love about the team.
But if you're from Philadelphia, you're wondering what it takes to have your glass completely full.
Here are five concerns with the team that could stop their run at a third World Series title.
Will the Phillies Ever Have a Healthy Closer?
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That guy in the photo, he was SUPPOSED to be our closer. Yet Brad Lidge has yet to pitch an inning this year.
Jose Contreras did a great job filling in, but then he got hurt. Ryan Madson did an even BETTER job filling in, and now he's on the DL.
It's great to have options but the question is, who do you go to once everyone is healthy?
I personally feel it's Madson's job to lose, but Charlie Manuel is a loyal guy who might give Lidge a chance to regain his spot. If that happens and Lidge falters, it could also knock Madson out of the groove he's been in too.
Closers are like quarterbacks; if you have two or three, really you have none.
Which Raul Ibanez Is Going to Show Up?
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This is a tough one. Raul seems like he's heating up, and yet I feel like as soon as we say that he goes on another cold streak.
Here are the facts. He's batting .241 with 12 home runs and 47 RBI. Only seven left fielders have more RBI than him, and he is second on the team with 12 home runs.
However, we don't know if Raul will start playing up to his career .281 batting average or if he will go cold and stay cold. With Domonic Brown getting better and John Mayberry Jr. proving he belongs on the big league club, time is running short, and patience is thin for Raul.
Which leads us to our next question....
Who Do the Phillies Trade for at the Trade Deadline?
Could this be the answer to the Phillies offensive troubles?
Bob Levey/Getty Images
It's an odd season where it is still very unclear who is buying and who is selling. The Phillies may not even make a trade at the deadline.
But one thing is sure, the Phils need a big bat in their lineup besides Ryan Howard, especially from the right side of the plate.
Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp may be out of the Phillies reach, but a Carlos Quentin or Hunter Pence I think is possible.
This would mean Raul Ibanez would have to platoon a position with Domonic Brown for the rest of the year, but this is a team who is 20th in batting average and only hit .216 against the Giants in the NLCS last year WITH Jason Werth.
It is something for GM Ruben Amaro Jr. to think about
What Do the Phillies Do With Vance Worley and Roy Oswalt?
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Pop quiz: who has the lowest ERA of any of the Phillies starters? That would be the 2.20 ERA of one Vance Worley ladies and gentlemen!
With the exception of one bad start, Vance has been nothing short of amazing. He also has more starts then Joe Blanton or Kyle Kendrick this year and only has five fewer starts then Roy Oswalt.
And speaking of Roy Oswalt, will his back ever be the same?
It's obvious that you have to put him back into the rotation once he comes back but at what cost? And Vance looks like he can be the guy who takes Oswalt's place next season if Roy decides to walk away after this season.
Here's the hard part, if Oswalt is still pitching so-so come playoff time, who do you hand the ball to in Game 4?
Charlie Manuel is a very loyal guy to his veterans, but it's hard to pass on Vance pitching right now.
Will This Team Ever Have a Chance to Gel.
This bullpen picture is missing all the big names due to injury.
Hunter Martin/Getty Images
The Phillies have only put out on the field their expected Opening Day line up five times this year. It seems once one person gets healthy, another one goes down.
This could be why the Phillies have been non-existent in certain games on the offensive side. This could also be why a move may not be made with the Phillies at the trade deadline.
But if nothing is done, the training staff has got to find a way to keep these guys healthy. David Herdon and Michael Stutes have done an excellent job and Antonio Bastrado has the lowest ERA of any reliever in the game.
But Lidge, Madson and Contreras are the guys we trust in those big spots. Michael Martinez and Wilson Valdez have been great filling in, but we can't depend on them to be consistent.
I guess all Phillies nation can do is hope the All-Star break will do this team some good and the injury bug is done biting on the team.
One thing is for sure, it's going to be a very fun second half of the season for this team and Philadelphia.