Obviously, Ryan Howard's injury hurt the Phillies' run production a lot. Just having Howard in the lineup lent a much-needed jolt into the offense. In the 80 games Howard played with the team through July 5, the Phillies hit 85 homers. After that, the Phils hit 55 homers.
Yes, Howard's return will help a lot.
But with a lineup that gets its power from lefty hitters -- 56 homers came from three lefty hitters -- the Phillies need some help from the right side.
Is Darin Ruf that right-handed bat? He could be. With 14 homers in 73 games in 2013, Ruf has the power. The problem is it comes in spurts. Ruf had droughts of 13 and 11 games without a homer last season and hit just seven homers in 83 games at Triple-A in '13. Plus, it doesn't sound as if manager Ryne Sandberg or general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. are ready to hand over a job to Ruf.
It's not a deep free-agent market, but there are a few interesting right-handed hitting names out there. Mike Napoli, Carlos Beltran (switch), Nelson Cruz, Mike Morse, Corey Hart, Jason Bay and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (switch) could draw some interest from the Phillies. And of course, a trade for Giancarlo Stanton has been bandied about for a while.
Obviously, there is a ways to go until the free-agency period gets going and the Phillies say they have some more pressing needs to address first. But a right-handed power hitter could do wonders for the team. The Phillies used to have them. They need one again.