Philadelphia has gone crazy, folks, and it's all Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Vance Worley's fault. Ruben Amaro's, too.
Listening to the Philly masses lately you'd have thought the Phillies were struggling to keep above .500. Everywhere you go it's, "Who should they go after at the trade deadline?" and "The Phils need a right-handed bat desperately to balance out their lefty-filled line-up."
Call me crazy, but since when does the team with the best record in all of baseball desperately need anything?
Every year Philadelphians are used to having something to complain about this time of year. Now that the Fightin's are sitting atop the National League East with the largest division lead in the majors, nobody knows what to do with themselves.
This lost feeling of "What do we do now?" has virtually created the idea that the Phillies have the worst offense in the history of baseball (at least that's how it seems), when in actuality they're seventh in the National League and 14th overall in runs per game.
While the seventh best offense in the NL isn't something you'll be telling to your grandchildren someday, you can win with that type of production, especially in 2011. We saw it last year when the San Francisco Giants won the World Series, mostly off of stellar pitching with a few offensive heroics coming from players who stepped up when it mattered (Cody Ross, Edgar Renteria, Pat Burrell, etc.)
Yet, everyday we continue to see the rumors swirling that involve the Phillies looking to pick up a right-handed outfielder or extra bullpen help. Carlos Beltran has been the name most frequently mentioned, with Hunter Pence and Michael Cuddyer popping up every so often, as well.
While a trade to acquire a needed right-handed bat or an extra reliever would certainly help the team, it isn't as necessary as it has been perceived.
Carlos Beltran, if acquired, could not make any less sense for the Phillies. While he is a switch hitter that can add some more power into the middle of the order and play in right field where they need the most help, Cuddyer and Pence are far better options.
To begin with, the 34-year-old Beltran is far worse from the right side of the plate than he is from the left. Hitting right-handed this season he is .227, compared to .315 hitting lefty.
Using him to "balance" out the line-up could prove to be a liability more than an improvement. Opposing teams could use special relievers to force him to the right side of the plate, where he simply doesn't produce as much.
Add to that his age, long history of injuries and the fact that he would only be a rental player for the rest of this season, and it's clear that Beltran shouldn't even be in consideration for the Phillies.
Pence and Cuddyer would both be suitable options for the Phils' line-up. Both hit right-handed, both play right field, and both have shown a consistent ability to produce this season. Cuddyer has hit for a .299 average with 14 home runs and 47 RBI, while Pence has a .312 average with 11 HR's and 61 RBI.
Pence would be the ideal player to go after, considering he's only 28 and has another year left on his contract, meaning he would be able to replace Raul Ibanez in left after his contract expires at the end of the season. The snag in the deal is the price just might be too far out of Ruben Amaro Jr.'s reach.
Ed Wade, ex-Phillies general manager and current GM of the Astros, probably wouldn't give Amaro any hometown discount considering Pence is by far the most talented and most popular player in Houston.
That's where they could turn to Cuddyer, who even though is on the last year of his contract, wouldn't demand so much that he couldn't be re-signed after the season. He's a slight drop-off from Pence in production, but his experience and reputation of being a great clubhouse guy and fan favorite is something the Astros outfielder lacks.
The main thing to remember is that the Phillies don't need anything.
An extra arm in the bullpen wouldn't hurt, but they've managed to roll along through the first half of the season as one of the best bullpens in the league. Up until last week, they had been in the top two in bullpen ERA with division foe the Atlanta Braves for most of the season.
Who would you like to see the Phillies trade for?
Michael Stutes has hit a slight bump in the road, but he's been consistent and reliable since day one. The fact that Antonia Bastardo didn't make the NL All-Star team is a travesty, and it's even worse that seemingly nobody noticed.
Ryan Madson continues to be the team's most intimidating and dominating reliever, and Brad Lidge is just now coming off the disabled list. Once Jose Contreras returns to the team, the Phillies will be locked and loaded on arms.
And while they could use another right-handed bat in the middle of the line-up, it won't make or break them. This team can survive with an average line-up because of the consistent support from their stellar pitching staff.
The perception is that their offense is dreadful, when truly if the season ended today, they'd have scored the most runs of any NL playoff team. They have the best run differential in the NL by far, and the third best overall. In July they've averaged 5.7 runs per game with the best average in the NL.
Philadelphians are so instinctively used to needing something more to put the team over the top that we find the smallest holes and make them seem bigger. We should just be thankful for having so few needs rather than magnifying every little one we find.
If the Phillies pull off a deal to bring in Hunter Pence or Michael Cuddyer, even Carlos Beltran, that's great as long as they don't sell the farm system they've managed to rebuild. In no way am I saying these players would hurt the team.
But keep in mind that often enough it's the Cody Ross's of the world that step up come October, not the big name mid-season acquisitions. Role players down the stretch and in the playoffs are just as important as your stars.
What's going to decide this team's fate is how well they decide to hit in the postseason. One right-handed bat isn't going to greatly change anything. The other eight guys in the order still have to produce. The Phillies can win with the team they have assembled now, everything just needs to come together when it counts.
I know it may be a tad boring, Philly fans, but how about we sit out the trade deadline hoopla for just one year? We have the best team in baseball right now. Let's just enjoy it for a while.