With 11 days to go until the trading deadline, the Philadelphia Phillies have quite a bit to think about as far as wheeling and dealing is concerned. Two weeks ago, the Phils were just swept by the Braves and had lost 14 of 18 games dropping to just two games over .500 at 39-37.
At that time, word came out that the Blue Jays All-World righty Roy Halladay could be available and immediately the Phillies jumped to the top of the list of potential suitors. Halladay made sense.
He's a right-handed sinker baller who would fit in perfectly in the left-handed heavy Phillies rotation and the HR friendly Citizens Bank Park. It appeared to be the perfect fit for both Halladay, who is hungry to pitch in October, and the defending World Champs.
Well, something happened after that Atlanta series. The Phillies have caught fire and have won 12 of 13 and are now 51-38 and hold a comfortable 6.5 game lead over the Braves (eight in the loss column).
Now, questions are being raised on whether the Phillies truly need Halladay to win the NL East for the third consecutive season. Do they sacrifice part of their future to attempt to win another championship in '09 & '10?
It makes all the sense in the world to do it. Although the Phillies are fresh off of a parade down Broad Street, they should understand how rare it is to get to the top and what's even harder in repeating. Two championships in 125 years shouldn't make this team content on trying to win with what they currently have.
This teams' core is in its prime. The age of the everyday players- Jimmy Rollins (30), Chase Utley (30), Jasyon Werth (30), Ryan Howard (29), Carlos Ruiz (29) & Shane Victorino (28) indicate the time is now to get another ring before the window closes. Only Raul Ibanez (37) is up there in years but he is arguably in his prime now too.
So then it comes down what do the Phils give up for Halladay? GM Ruben Amaro has indicated that their top prospects, RHP Kyle Drabek, OF Michael Taylor and OF Dominic Brown are untouchable. However, studs like Halladay do not become available everyday. Seriously, if anyone should be untouchable...it's Roy!
Lefty J.A. Happ who joined the rotation two months ago is 7-0 with a 2.68 ERA. The former third rounder took his time in the minors and is an older 27-year old rookie but his stock will never be higher.
The Blue Jays would certainly entertain talks that include Happ over the next week and a half for a left-hander starter that will be dirt cheap for the next three to four seasons sounds right up their ally.
The Phillies have an additional need they must address before the deadline. Last season, GM Pat Gillick struck gold by acquiring pinch hitter Matt Stairs to provide some left handed pop off the bench.
This season, they need pop from the other side of the plate. I'm sorry, Eric Bruntlett is probably a nice guy and has smarts and some speed and versatility...but a .132 average, a .207 on base percentage and a microscopic .197 slugging percentage has no business pinch hitting late in a game in a crucial situation.
Phils skipper Charlie Manuel would be better off sticking with a pitcher or Stairs/Greg Dobbs against a lefty. Bruntlett strikes fear in no one and the Phillies really need to grab a bat.
Rookie John Mayberry has knocked out 4 dingers in 51 AB's but with the groin concerns of Ibanez, he's coming in late in games to provide defense which leaves Bruntlett as the only non-catcher option. Look, without Matt Stairs, the Phillies might not have gotten by the Dodgers in the NLCS last season.
I'm certain Gillick taught Amaro enough to know that they need an upgrade there. So you look at teams that are out of it...in sales mode and then check out the possibilities. How about some of these names: Ryan Garko-CLE, Nomar Garciaparra-OAK, Austin Kearns-WAS, Ty Wigginton-BAL.
All would make sense for the right-handed thump the Phils need in the late innings.
The Phillies acquiring Halladay will all but lock up the NL East crown and will make them a formidable October contestant with a one-two punch of Halladay & last year's October hero Cole Hamels. As it stands right now, the Phillies would take on the Giants in the Wild Card round.
Halladay/Hamels facing the one-two punch of Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum and All Star Matt Cain looks much better than Hamels/Moyer...or Hamels/Blanton. GM Ruben Amaro has shown some aggressiveness with the brow-raising Raul Ibanez deal.
If he learned anything from Gillick, it's that the deals at the deadline whether a blockbuster or under the radar can be the difference between watching October games from home, or preparing for another ride down Broad Street.