With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline now just three days away, the Philadelphia Phillies will have to make a tough decision or two.
The Phillies are in need of players at two positions: they need a relief pitcher, but more importantly, they need an impact right-handed hitting outfielder.
Today could be the day the Phillies acquire one of these players. But why today?
It is often said that history repeats itself. A famous case includes United States presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, and if you look at their comparisons, some of them are eerily similar.
However, in this case, July 29 has been a day to remember for the Phillies in each of the last two seasons.
July 29 is a special day for the Philadelphia Phillies. In 2009, it was the day that they finalized a deal with the Cleveland Indians that sent prospects Jason Donald, Jason Knapp, Carlos Carrasco and Lou Marson to the Indians in exchange for outfielder Ben Francisco and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee.
Lee ended up being the ace the team needed down the stretch, and he led them to their second straight World Series appearance. Unfortunately, they lost to the New York Yankees in six games, but the two games the Phillies won were both started by Lee, including a shutout in Game 1.
It was also the period of time in which Cliff Lee discovered his love for the city of Philadelphia and the Phillies, a huge factor in his decision to re-sign with the team this past offseason, snubbing both the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees, both considered to be the front-runners for his services.
July 29 is also the day that the Phillies acquired Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt for left-handed starting pitcher J.A. Happ and prospects Jonathan Villar and Anthony Gose.
Oswalt ended up being the recuperation for losing Lee last year, going 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA in his starts through the end of the regular season and he was a big reason why the Phillies retook the lead in the NL East over the Atlanta Braves and captured their fourth straight NL East division title.
Oswalt was also one of the Phillies' most reliable starters in the postseason last year, especially in the NLCS, which the Phillies ended up losing in six games to the eventual World Series champion San Francisco Giants.
July 29 has shown to be a good day in the recent past for the Phillies, and such a trend could possibly continue. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has publicly stated his shopping list for this year's trade deadline, and his top targets are Houston Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, Chicago White Sox right fielder Carlos Quentin and San Diego Padres setup man Mike Adams.
Pence, who is the biggest offensive name on the trade market since New York Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran was officially traded to the San Francisco Giants yesterday, has been speculated to be a trade target by the Phillies at the deadline since the beginning of the season, but it hasn't been until the last few days that talks for Pence at all have surfaced. They're starting to heat up fast.
However, it won't be easy to acquire him. The Phillies have already offered their two best prospects in Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart, along with another prospect, and the Astros declined the Phillies' offer.
Among the other teams in the hunt for Pence are the Atlanta Braves (who have tons of pitching depth in the minors, which could be very attractive to the Astros), the Cincinnati Reds, the Boston Red Sox, the Cleveland Indians, and the Texas Rangers (who are pursuing Padres closer Heath Bell much more than Pence). The Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have also been in the mix.
Quentin has been linked to the Phillies for a few days now, but White Sox GM Kenny Williams has stated that Quentin might be off the market. However, recent reports have surfaced that he might be on the market again, with the Phillies' division rivals, the Atlanta Braves, being considered the front-runners due to their huge minor league depth.
Adams is the Phillies' top target in the bullpen department, but he would be difficult to get given the fact that the Padres have little interest in moving him, especially since he's inexpensive and is under team control through next season. He could be a good fit in Philadelphia, and if all else fails with Pence and Quentin, the Phillies could also try to get Padres left fielder Ryan Ludwick in a deal along with Adams.
It is often said that history repeats itself. But will that be the case with the Philadelphia Phillies? They have made big trades in the last two years on July 29, acquiring aces Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt in 2009 and 2010 respectively. And while the Phillies aren't pursuing a starting pitcher this season, they are still going after the top names on the trade market in Hunter Pence, Carlos Quentin, and Mike Adams.
But will the Phillies get who they covet most, or will they have to settle for less than what they would like? Or, if nothing goes according to plan, will the Phillies ultimately stand pat at the deadline this season?
If the past has been an indicator, which it seemingly has, then the Phillies will go all-in and try to get Hunter Pence from the Houston Astros.
And today, July 29, could be the day that such a trade could happen.