Yesterday, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. cemented himself as one of the greatest GMs in Philadelphia history with the acquisition of former Astros right fielder Hunter Pence.
Since taking over for former GM Pat Gillick, each July has produced a top tier non-rental talent for the Phillies.
Last year it was Roy Oswalt, the year before Cliff Lee, and now this season Hunter Pence.
With the acquisition of Pence, the Phillies—on paper—have one of the most beautiful team makeups I've witnessed since the Oakland A's of the late '80s and early '90s.
They have pitching in their four aces and a surprisingly effective bullpen.
They have speed in Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley, Pence, Dominic Brown and John Mayberry.
They have power with Howard, Utley, Pence, Rollins and Ibanez.
And the team already has the fewest errors committed defensively in the majors to this point in the 2011 season.
What Pence brings to the Phillies is invaluable.
When I think of a ballplayer like Pence, I compare his grittiness, work ethic and love of the game to that of Chase Utley's.
In my mind, the acquisition of Pence gives the Phillies virtually a second Chase Utley—only from the right side of the dish with a rifle arm in right field.
There was no other deal for Philadelphia to make that could have improved the overall everyday ability of the ball club.
Sure, it would be great if they were able to nab another bullpen piece, but the team's offense clearly needed an upgrade and with this move the Phillies plugged every offensive need they had with the acquisition of Pence.
Prior to the trade, I was a little concerned Pence might not be happy in Philadelphia because he seemed so happy and comfortable in Houston.
Pence going four for his last 31 at-bats concerned me.
After hearing his remarks following the trade, my disposition has changed—it seems Pence is genuinely excited to play for a great team and to get out of an organization clearly in a rebuilding phase.
With Polanco coming off the DL, Lidge pitching effectively from the bullpen and the arrival of Pence, the trade San Francisco made to acquire Beltran seems a whole lot less scary than it did for that one day in Philadelphia fan's minds.
More to come in a few days after watching this revamped lineup.
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