Phillies: Pitching, Prospects, Pennants, and Post-Season Phireworks
A little more than a week ago the Phillies were returning from a road-trip in which the team won just two games while dropping six. A lot can change in a week.
The Fightins returned home to the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park and now are in the midst of a season long seven game win streak. They have cut the Braves seven game lead in the NL East down to just three and a half games. They have also pulled within a game and a half of the San Francisco Giants for the NL wild-card lead.
Ryan Howard, who is having an MVP type season (batting over .300, over 20 HR’s, and leading the NL in RBI) has been carrying the team offensively for some time now but the bats of Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth have really come to life as of recently too.
On Tuesday night the Phillies had to place center fielder Shane Victorino on the DL and they were forced to move Werth to center field and bring up their number one prospect, Domonic Brown, from AAA to play right field.
In Brown’s first major league game (last night) he recorded two hits, scored two runs, and drove in two more as the Phillies and ace Roy Halladay beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-1.
The Phillies who are playing without all-star second baseman Chase Utley (who will also miss all of August) have also been playing the past few games without shortstop Jimmy Rollins who is day-to-day with a hand injury. They also lost pitcher Jamie Moyer for what looks like the rest of the 2010 season. This has meant players like Wilson Valdez, Cody Ransom, and Greg Dobbs are seeing extended playing time at third base, second base, and shortstop.
Last season at the trade deadline, the Phillies pulled off a blockbuster deal to land Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians. Lee was by far their best pitcher down the stretch and into the post season (winning both of his World Series starts). In the off season the Phillies traded for Roy Halladay and sent Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for a less than exciting group of prospects. Many fans were upset that the Phillies did not keep Lee (who was under contract for the 2010 season) and pair him with Halladay at the top of the rotation.
Today the Phillies pulled off another blockbuster and landed another big time pitcher at the trade deadline. Reports from ESPN say that the Houston Astros are sending ace Roy Oswalt to the Phillies for pitcher JA Happ and two unnamed Phillies prospects. Oswalt is owed five million dollars this year, sixteen million next year, and has a club option for sixteen million for 2012. The Astros will reportedly pick up almost half of his salary for this season and next.
Will Oswalt be enough to send the Phillies back to the World Series? With Utley due back in September it just might be. The question on my mind is, why did the Phillies send Lee to Seattle in the first place? At the end of the day they are giving up more for Oswalt than they received for Lee. Lee was recently traded from the Mariners to the NL West leading Texas Rangers to help them make a post-season run.
One thing is for certain; the Phillies are a second half club. Seven games into the current win streak they seem poised to make another pennant (or at least wild-card) run and with Halladay, Oswalt, and Cole Hamels, they would be quite a force to be reckoned with in the post-season.