It doesn’t matter how you look at it, there’s no way you could argue that the AL East doesn’t have three of the best 8 teams in baseball. The third place Red Sox would be leading 4 of the other 5 divisions, but right now they sit on the outside of the playoff picture. With such a competitive division, and in a year where the Rays think they are positioned to go all-in, I wonder how much the AL East’s maneuvering will impact the rest of baseball. Before the season started, before the Rays’ young arms had a brilliant first half there was some speculation that the Rays could be the biggest seller come the July 31st deadline. Would they think of moving Carl Crawford if they were out of the race? It seemed likely, given their previous moves, but considering where they stand and that they were rumored to be in the Cliff Lee race, you can forget about adding a piece from Tampa. In fact, you’ll have to out-bid them.
It could be a good summer to be a seller. Already we’ve seen Seattle add the highly regarded Justin Smoak in the Cliff Lee deal. The remaining pieces on the market, the ones that could make a difference could be hot commodities. Roy Oswalt? Dan Haren? Ben Sheets? These guys aren’t exactly Cliff Lee, but there are a lot of teams out there that need pitching. Bats might be even more difficult to come by. The shortage of help is causing teams to pull the trigger early. The Rangers already did, and yesterday you saw the Braves make a trade that I am lukewarm on, but a lot of people like. It seems like the last couple weeks before the deadline aren’t going to be available for evaluation. If you want to get better, and you don’t want to get beaten to the punch by someone in the overly competitive AL, you might need to get on it.
So, what does this mean for the Phillies? Well, considering there are rumors swirling in both directions: The Phils might add pitching, they might trade Jayson Werth, or both, you have to feel like the Phils will do something. I think they’d like to see how the next couple weeks go, but as I mentioned above, they might not have that luxury. Ideally you wait and see if Happ re-enters the rotation, you wait for Madson, and see how the offense does with Polanco back. That would give you a better idea of what these Phillies can be, but time is slipping away. Along with the trades, the Phillies must decide what to do with Dominic Brown, their prized AAA prospect. Is bringing him up part of the plan? Is it worth the risk to see if he jump starts the offense?
Phillies open the second half with the Cubs. They set the rotation up perfectly. Jamie Moyer on the hill tonight, Blanton tomorrow. Good stuff. The Cubs are down, but from there it’s Cardinals, and Rockies, and the momentum from that razor-thin sweep over Cincy needs to be maintained. Polanco back this weekend (thank god), and as far as healthy guys that need to step up? I think the list goes Rollins, Lidge, Blanton and Victorino.