The Phillies' offense has settled into a productive groove with every passing game, while trade targets like Vance Worley and Domonic Brown are proving the Phillies can blend winning with building toward the future.
Nobody would call Ruben Amaro Jr.'s job easy. The Phillies' GM has five days to determine whether to sacrifice the future for the present, or even decide if such measures are necessary at all. Since Chase Utley's return, the offensive engine has motored along just fine, even with the on-and-off contributions of All-Stars Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco. Yanking Wilson Valdez's skinny rear end from the mix has been absolutely key, and this "need" for another bat, which many fans still feel, stems from those miserable early days when Valdez and unproductive catchers like Dane Sardinha sunk the bottom of the lineup, while our five-hole production was the worst in the league. The five hole is still in flux, but Charlie Manuel's current lineup iteration has eased the suffering.
Healthy bodies have helped, too. Since his return, Utley has injected about .310 more OPS points into the lineup, while benching Ben Francisco for Brown has added another .50 or so. The bottom of the lineup, with Brown and John Mayberry, has added a second wave of RBI punch. Raul Ibanez has been hot and cold on a month-to-month basis. He's currently hot. So is Carlos Ruiz, who's working on a .972 July OPS.
Their hot streak isn't the only reason why the waters have muddied. Have you seen Jarred Cosart's numbers lately? He's striking out no one and walking the house. Jonathan Singleton is having a decent month (.772 OPS), but his value figures to go higher when he's a little older and more established. And are we so sure Worley is pitching so far over his head that he'll never have more value than now? When was the last time Roy Oswalt went the distance with the Phils? Once, back on Sept. 12. How about Joe Blanton? Try never.