The Phillies are, no doubt, on pace to achieving their second consecutive league-leading season and subsequent home-field advantage throughout the postseason.
But the Phils know more than anybody that once entering the playoffs, it's a whole new ballgame. While the team remains the clear favorite in the NL, there are improvements to be made.
With the waiver wire deadline quickly approaching, the Phillies organization has little time to decide on possible moves. Additionally, the moves they may wish to make are near impossible due to their status as the best team in baseball (in terms of record). Although, some players are available and have already made it through waivers and are available to the Phillies to make an offer for.
Like any team, the Phillies have holes. Whether or not those holes come back to haunt them in October is anybody's guess.
Here are the top five players that can put the Phillies over the top (if aren't there yet anyway).
Jason Giambi was being talked about in Philadelphia even before the July 31 trade deadline. His injury, unfortunately, pushed trade talks aside.
Jack Cust was signed as a possible alternative, but he struggled with AAA Lehigh Valley and has since been released.
But now, since Giambi has since returned to his spot on the Rockies' roster, his name is again being tossed around as a potential candidate to be put on waivers. It could be tricky for the slugger to get all the way to the Phillies without being claimed, but there is a shot.
If he does get put on waivers and the Phils can make a move, it could greatly boost what has become an extremely depleted bench. Ross Gload had just one hit in the past month and is just not cutting it as a power left-handed hitter off the bench. With former-Phillie Jim Thome now officially out of the picture, Giambi could be the best fit to fill that slot.
The Phils' only left-handed reliever is Antonio Bastardo. Although he's having a breakout season in 2011, another lefty out of the bullpen would be a welcome addition to the team.
Arthur Rhodes seemed to be a pretty good fit, but was acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals last week. Fuentes has been placed on waivers, but has overall underperformed this year. However, as we all saw in 2008 with Scott Eyre, sometimes a change in scenery is all a player really needs to revive a hidden spark. This year, Fuentes could be that guy. To help, he has a 1.10 ERA over his past 18 appearances. Not too shabby.
Phillies fans are too familiar with veteran outfielder Johnny Damon, who helped break their hearts in the 2009 World Series with a .364 batting average in the series and a couple of key stolen bases.
Damon has declined since leaving New York in 2010, but his numbers are still good enough to give him a look. He has a .268 batting average and a .355 on-base percentage this year, and though his numbers are not great off the bench (the role he'd play with the Phillies), the sample size is far too small to make any rash judgements on how he would do in the role on a consistent basis.
He has played in seven postseasons, which could provide additional experience and leadership to a team already stacked with it.
Damon has already cleared waivers, so if the Phillies really want him, he's a guy they'll unquestionably be able to get.
Tom Gorzelanny was recently booted from the Nationals starting rotation and has been placed in the pen. The 29-year-old left-hander has impressive strikeout numbers and has an ERA just over 3.00.
He's not an ideal fit for this Phillies team. But an additional southpaw to join Bastardo in the pen could really help this team in the playoffs—especially against tough left-handed hitters. He was reportedly upset about his demotion from the rotation, but a World Series opportunity just might be able to change his thinking.
Another waiver candidate is former Phillies-killer Hideki Matsui, who has since landed Oakland Athletics. Matsui, who has had his struggles this year, is currently on a major hot streak with a batting average and on base percentage hovering near .400 since the All-Star Break.
Like Damon, Matsui is nowhere near the player he used to be. But he's just two years removed from a World Series MVP award, and as we all witnessed with Matt Stairs in 2008, all it takes is one at-bat to define the line between a win and a loss. Matsui can help define that line.