Northeast Times

Good health better than a deadline deal for Phils

For ma­jor-league base­ball teams look­ing to make a run at the World Series this year, Ju­ly 31 could be an im­port­ant date. 

That’s what is of­fi­cially called the “non-waiver trade dead­line” or, in lay­man’s terms, simply the trade dead­line.

There still are ways for teams to add play­ers throughout Au­gust who would be eli­gible to play in the post­season, but Ju­ly 31 is es­sen­tially the easi­est way for them to do so should they de­cide they need an­oth­er piece or two.

For the Phil­lies, pop­u­lar opin­ion is that they are look­ing for a right-handed bat to play the out­field, and at least one arm to add some re­lief-pitch­ing depth to their bull­pen.

The di­lemma for the Phil­lies this year is that, due to trades for guys like Roy Hal­laday, Roy Os­walt and Cliff Lee over the past few sea­sons, their minor league sys­tem is not ex­actly burst­ing with play­ers to of­fer teams.

Also, the guys they have are guys that they really seem to want to hold on to. 

Now that does not mean noth­ing will hap­pen.

The Cliff Lee sign­ing this past off-sea­son should tell you just how poker-faced Ruben Am­aro Jr. can be when it comes to up­grad­ing this ballclub.

But what if the Phil­lies could add an ace pitch­er, a few sol­id bull­pen arms and more than one big-league-tested bat without los­ing a single play­er from their farm sys­tem? 

Well, that’s ex­actly what could hap­pen — and that might be the ex­tent of what does hap­pen — for the Phil­lies this year.

The best part is that some of these pieces might be here be­fore you even get a chance to read this, as long as their re­habs go well.

Just take a look at the team’s dis­abled list.

As far as the “right-handed bat” goes, how about not one, but two guys voted in­to this year’s all-star game?

Both Shane Vic­torino and Pla­cido Po­lanco are sched­uled to re­turn some­time this week, po­ten­tially giv­ing the of­fense a much-needed boost of con­sist­ency that they have lacked most of the sea­son be­cause of in­jur­ies. 

Vic­torino re­portedly is closer to re­turn­ing than Po­lanco, who was still feel­ing dis­com­fort in his back after two con­sec­ut­ive days of bat­ting prac­tice last week­end.

As we went to press this week, Vic­torino was sched­uled to re­turn on Tues­day while Po­lanco was slated to be back on Wed­nes­day, but Po­lanco’s re­turn is ques­tion­able.

As far as re­lief help goes, there are a few arms that could be back in the very near fu­ture.

Ry­an Mad­son already is here, but how about a guy named Brad Lidge? Re­mem­ber him?

The Phil­lies’ “per­fect closer” from the 2008 sea­son has been work­ing through a shoulder in­jury he suffered just be­fore the sea­son star­ted, and he ap­pears to be pretty close to fi­nally mak­ing his 2011 sea­son de­but.

While his ve­lo­city is not ex­actly where the team wants it just yet, he has been feel­ing good throughout his re­hab ap­pear­ances. 

The Phil­lies also have Jose Contreras work­ing through a right-fore­arm strain and ex­pect him back be­fore the end of the month.

What could also be a boost for the bull­pen is that the Phil­lies have starters Roy Os­walt and Joe Blan­ton near­ing re­turns from in­jury that could put them back in­to a start­ing ro­ta­tion that has not faltered in their ab­sence.

If one or both re­turn to form over the next few weeks, then Kyle Kendrick — who turned in a stel­lar per­form­ance on Sunday against the New York Mets — and Vance Wor­ley — who has been im­press­ive all sea­son — could be moved to the bull­pen. 

While Kendrick al­most def­in­itely would go to the pen, Wor­ley would prob­ably head to Triple A to keep work­ing as a starter should the Phil­lies suf­fer any more in­jur­ies.

This is not to say that Am­aro and the Phil­lies will not be adding any new faces to the or­gan­iz­a­tion come the trade dead­line.

Their strongest move, though, just might be get­ting healthy. •• 

Colum­nist Matt God­frey can be reached at mgod­frey@bsmphilly.com

You can reach at mgodfrey@bsmphilly.com.

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