I am not sure exactly how it happened, but September is here.
The summer months are behind us, and it is time to get organized for the fall.
As far as the Phillies go, they find themselves on the perch of another postseason run toward a World Series crown, but like most, they have a “to-do” list of their own that they need to take care of between now and the end of the season.
Let’s take a look at the major items they need to address:
Hamels must be healthy
Cole Hamels made his return from the 15-day disabled list on Monday (a Phils’ win over the Reds, though he didn’t get the decision), having coped with a “dead arm” since early August.
A healthy Hamels, paired with a now-healthy Roy Oswalt as well, puts the Phillies “Four Aces’ back on the table and lets the team turns its attention to getting the bullpen in order.
about that bullpen …
During the last few weeks, we have seen what can happen when Antonio Bastardo, Michael Stutes and Ryan Madson cannot close games.
For much of the season, fans haven’t had to worry about the back end of the bullpen. But over the last few weeks, the trio have imploded to varying degrees.
The Phils have roughly four weeks to figure out how to get those three relievers — along with bullpen pitchers Brad Lidge and David Herndon — back in sync if they hope to make a legitimate run for another trophy.
Who plays leftfield?
All year, the big question for the Phillies’ outfield focused on who’d be the starter in rightfield. The trade for Hunter Pence has answered that question, so leftfield is under scrutiny now.
The position has been Raul Ibanez’s all season, and it is his spot to lose, but John Mayberry Jr. is making a very loud argument for why he should be playing on an everyday basis.
The toughest decision the Phils will have to make over the next month just might be whether to bench Ibanez and play Mayberry.
Do you go with the veteran? Or do you go with the guy who’s producing?
Lefty on the bench
Remember Matt Stairs’ pinch-hit homer against the Dodgers in 2008? The one he hit in the National League Championship Series that helped propel the Phillies to the World Series?
That season could have turned out differently had Stairs not been in the mix, leaving the Phils to send a guy like Wilson Valdez or Michael Martinez to the plate to pinch-hit in that situation.
Nothing against Valdez or Martinez, but there was a reason for recent rumors that the Phillies were trying to get Jim Thome back in the fold for the final few weeks of the season.
Right now, their “big lefty bench bats” are Ross Gload, who has not hit a home run this season, and Brian Schneider, who most likely would not be used because he’s the only backup catcher for Carlos Ruiz.
There might be some way to rectify this situation and get a dependable lefthanded bat on the bench, but at this point it looks like the Phillies may be playing with the guys they have. ••
Columnist Matt Godfrey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org