Ruben Amaro and the rest of the Phillies alleged brain trust have decided this club really is built to win now. To that end they went out and secured the services of Houston's Roy Oswalt. The cost was a middling, back of the rotation starter and two toolsie kids who may or may not be stars one day.
The trade raised the question of what made the front office think their team of late July was any more built to win now than the one scheduled to take the field in April. The subtext, of course, is why trade Cliff Lee if the future is now? The subtext to that question is why argue you need to restock your farm system if you are going to move two of its potentially bright stars?
Left unsolved in all this maneuvering is the unreliable bullpen, on view again last night, and the absence of a lot of starters due to injuries, something no team can really plan for.
In the meantime, the patchwork Phillies, behind supersub Wilson Valdez, won their eighth straight game and third series sweep in a row at home, beating Arizona 3-2 in extra innings.
Raul Ibanez, pilloried in this space numerous times, continued his "comeback" by contributing a solo home run that gave the Phillies a lead in regulation time. Ryan Madson, whose role may be setup man, emergency closer and chief furniture arranger, continued to make manager Charlie Manuel's job harder by surrendering a leadoff double in the top of the ninth that eventually scored the tying run. Madson pitched the eight and Manuel tempted fate by letting him start the ninth. Never tempt the fates with Madson as your instrument, Charlie. NEVER.
The heart of the Phillies lineup was utterly futile all night with Ryan Howard striking out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth. The bottom of the order was potent all night with Carlos Ruiz and Valdez provided the most production.
To think the Phillies were a mere two games over .500 a week ago and seven games behind front-running Atlanta. If that doesn't give heart to the glass half empty crowd (yes, I am a charter member) I don't know what will. Accomplishing all this without Utley completely and Rollins and Victorino periodically is astonishing. But before I burn my membership card, let me remind you the current bullpen is not championship caliber by a long shot.