Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Second Half Already Under Way

Baseball may officially maintain the second half of the season begins immediately after the All Star game but in Philadelphia we prefer to think it began with the four-game sweep of Cincinnati coming just prior to the "mid summer classic." After all, that highly entertaining series provided desperately needed life for the defending NL champs, who were on the verge of falling hopelessly behind the Braves.

The Phils will still be running out a makeshift lineup when they take on the Cubs at Wrigley Field Thursday. Placido Polanco should be on the verge of returning very soon and Chad Durbin may not be far behind, but Chase Utley is by most estimations at least six weeks from coming off the DL.

The biggest question facing the Phils at this juncture is whether or not they will play the hand they were dealt or make an attempt to land either a starting pitcher, closer or another bat for the bench who can also play some infield. The guess here is they stand pat. The starting rotation with the exception of Joe Blanton has pitched effectively of late. Blanton is a notorious second-half guy and the brass are probably counting on his reversion to the mean. It's hard to imagine a quality closer is out there and even more difficult to imagine whom the Phils might dangle to acquire one. As for another bat off the bench, most of the journeymen out there don't excite and the few good players who might be available would probably come at too high a price.

The Phils are not going to part with their top prospects Dominic Brown or Jarre Cosart. They are also unlikely to give up on Scott Mathieson, who is just returning to form after two Tommy John surgeries. The only farm hand who might be available is Anthony Gose, and management still likes his future.

If the Phils do engineer a deal, it might include Jayson Werth, who seems destined to depart when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. The Phils are really a team that was built to win now, but Ruben Amaro forgot that when he traded Cliff Lee. If he trades Werth, he might fill one of his big needs, but in all likelihood the GM is not going to make the same mistake twice in one season. Werth probably stays and the Phils get draft picks when he signs elsewhere.

One thing seems certain: no savior like Cliff Lee in 2009 is out there.

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