Without a doubt, the Phillies (80-42) have more answers than questions at this point of the season. Still, there are questions to be answered over the final 40 games. Here is a look at 40 of them, rapid-fire style:
(1) Is Cole Hamels’ shoulder injury more serious than the team is letting on? … (2) Would the team be better off letting Hamels sit out a few weeks to get fully healthy? … (3) Are Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee pitching too many innings? … (4) Should the team consider a six-man rotation over the last six weeks? … (5) Should Vance Worley or Roy Oswalt be the team’s fourth starter in the playoffs? ... (6) Is there any chance Joe Blanton returns down the stretch? … (7) Do we even want Joe Blanton to return down the stretch? … (8) What about Jose Contreras, what can he contribute at this point? … (9) Is Brad Lidge someone that Charlie Manuel can count on in the postseason? … (10) Is Michael Stutes leaking oil at this point? … (11) How much confidence do you have in Ryan Madson in a big spot in a playoff game? … (12) If Madson starts to struggle, who would be next in line to inherit the closer’s job? … (13) Can the team get by with Antonio Bastardo as the only lefty in the ‘pen? … (14) Who else is even out there? … (15) Is there any value in having both Worley and Kyle Kendrick in the bullpen during the playoffs? … (16) Given the team’s starting pitching depth, how many relievers do the Phils even need in the postseason?
(17) Is a Raul Ibanez/John Mayberry Jr. platoon definitely the way to go? … (18) Or should Mayberry be playing two-thirds of the time, including starts against right-handed pitching? … (19) Given the Phillies’ lead in the division, should players like Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley get an extra day off here and there? … (20) Did the Phillies mishandle the Placido Polanco sports hernia injury? … (21) Should Polanco have undergone surgery already, putting him back on track to return potentially in mid-to-late September? … (22) If Polanco is unable to play in October, should Wilson Valdez or Michael Martinez see the bulk of the playing time at third base? … (23) Any consideration to splitting up Utley and Howard with the right-handed Hunter Pence? ... (24) If they go with that strategy, should Utley-Pence-Howard bat 2-3-4 in the order? ... (25) What does Ben Francisco offer this team that Mayberry doesn’t? … (26) What does Ross Gload still offer the team if he’s not hitting well? ... (27) Is Shane Victorino, more than Utley, Howard or Rollins, the key to the offense down the stretch? … (28)How will Pence fare in his first pennant chase and his first postseason? … (29) In a big spot, is there anyone you’d rather have at the plate than Carlos Ruiz?
(30) What moves will Ruben Amaro Jr. make between now and August 31? … (31) Is there any chance that Jim Thome or Jason Giambi could make it all the way through to the Phillies on the waiver wire? … (32) What about Johnny Damon or Hideki Matsui? … (33) Are there any September call-ups capable of helping this team down the stretch? … (34) Who will the Phillies end up playing in the NLDS? … (35) Even though the Giants are injured and scuffling, would the Phillies be better off if the defending World Series champions missed the playoffs? … (36) Are the Brewers or the Braves the team that the Phillies need to avoid in the postseason? … (37) What Phillies will win a Gold Glove? … (38) Will one of the Phillies’ starting pitchers end up winning the NL Cy Young Award? … (39) What about the Vanimal for Rookie of the Year? … (40) And finally, is there any support out there for Charlie Manuel for Manager of the Year in the National League?