Brett MyersGoing into the season the Phillies had some obvious question marks, but none more glaring than the bullpen. Last year’s bullpen was bad. How bad? I won’t bore you with statistics, but suffice it to say that when you’re regularly pitching Jose Mesa and Antonio Alfonseca, you’ve got problems.

This season, Brad Lidge was given a shot to finish games. It was a gamble, handing over closing duties to a guy with a notoriously fragile psyche. Philadelphia, I’m told, isn’t the ideal place to rebuild one’s confidence. But so far this season, Lidge has been perfect. And the Phillies bullpen, amazingly, has been the best in the NL. Moreover, the team’s offense has been second only to the Chicago Cubs.

Yet all is not well in the City of Brotherly Shove, as the Phils find their lead over the dreaded New York Metropolitans shrinking by the day.

So what do the Phillies need to win the NL East, if not bullpen help or offense?


You heard me. The Phillies are good enough as assembled to win the NL East. The problem isn’t making the playoffs (not that anything is assured). The problem is what happens once they get there.

The Phillies simply don’t have the kind of dominant starting pitching that it takes to win in the playoffs. Cole Hamels is the real thing, for sure. But after Hamels the talent level drops off considerably.

Brett Myers was supposed to be the team’s no. 2, but right now he’s in the minors. He’s scheduled to rejoin the team this week, but it’s hardly a safe bet to assume he’s rediscovered what it takes to dominate hitters.

The popular rumor at the moment is that the Phillies will trade for Oakland SP Joe Blanton, who certainly has a solid track record. But you have to be nervous about trading for a guy with a 1.41 WHIP and an ERA just under 5.00.

Joe BlantonSuch is the tricky situation Phillies GM Pat Gillick finds himself in. He has a paper thin farm system that he doesn’t want to further deplete. Yet he needs to acquire a top-flight starter if this team has any chance of advancing in October. Moreover, the best starters – Sabathia and Harden – are off the market.

Blanton might be the Phils’ best bet. He’s young. He’s cheap. And he’ll remain under team control through the 2010 season, so he won’t be just a two month rental. Last season was Blanton’s break-out. He pitched 230 innings, recording 140 K’s, a 1.20 WHIP and a nearly 4:1 K/BB. He probably won’t repeat those numbers this season. But, because he has been pretty crappy so far, his price probably isn’t as high as it was in February, when it was rumored the A’s were asking for Homer Bailey and Joey Votto for Blanton.

There’s been a rumor that the Giants will shop Matt Cain, and that the Phillies could be buyers. But that seems highly unlikely. A.J. Burnett is available, but he’s also been very erratic this season – and he’s a total d-bag.

No, I suspect it’ll be Blanton. And that’ll be an upgrade over Kyle Kendrick, to be sure. But while Blanton might bolster the Phils’ thin staff, he isn’t the kind of pitcher who is likely to dominate in the postseason. He’s a groundball pitcher, and that will no doubt serve him well in Citizen Bank Park, but he’s no Johan Santana.

Unfortunately, the only strikeout pitcher the Phillies are likely to add between now and July 31 is Brett Myers. And that’s far from a safe bet.

UPDATE: The Phillies have traded for Joe Blanton.

– What They Need Index –

7 Responses to “What they Need: Philadelphia Phillies – A pitcher who throws hot, nasty, badass speed.”

  1. Paul Moro says:

    Ya got balls, Ward. Ya got balls. Already worried about the playoffs? Seriously?

  2. Coley Ward says:

    Paul, Ryan Howard and Rollins are both second half players. This is a team that, almost without exception, plays better in August than April. Plus, the Mets are going to choke, because they’re the Mets.

  3. Coley Ward says:

    I’m actually more worried about the Marlins, although I’m guessing Dan Uggla probably took a dive off the GW after Tuesday night’s game and they’ll probably need a new second baseman.

  4. melissa says:

    If Uggla didn’t take a dive off the GW bridge I hope someone pushed him.
    Do the Phillies have any interest in Bedard? He is another guy rumored to be available. If Seattle does want to unload him their former GM made it more difficult by trashing him.
    I also saw a rumor that Houston might be willing to deal Oswalt, it seems like he would be a guy the Phillies would want to pick up. I don’t know why Houston would do this but does Philly have the prospects to make this happen?
    I don’t think they can hold off the Mets if they don’t add a quality starter.

  5. Coley Ward says:

    Bedard is currently on the DL and I think most teams are worried about his injury history. Plus, he’s a dick, and I don’t think the Phils want to add that kind of negativity to their clubhouse.

    Oswalt didn’t get past the first inning in his last start – against the Washington Nationals. So, he’s far from a sure thing.

    I think the only sure thing pitcher on the market this summer was CC, and he’s gone. Of course Harden is dominant when healthy, but he’s just such an injury risk.

    It’s clear the Phillies need another top flight pitcher if they’re going to go deep in the playoffs, but I really don’t think there’s one available. It’s going to be all up to Myers, and that’s a scary thought.

  6. The 610 morning zoo people don’t like the Blanton deal – so I’ll bet it works out for the Phillies.
    I’m shocked they found time to discuss it – b/c I think the Eagles ordered new tupperware for training camp, which typically requires 3 straight hours of analysis and discussion.

    I will say I think the Phils need one thing – consistency – their offense is maddeningly hot and cold (as June showed). I’m fine with it taking a few games off, but that entire month it was dormant, and that is scary. That said, you can’t trade for consistency.

  7. is it weird that the title of this post kind of turned me on?

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