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 firstname.lastname@example.org