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Montgomery Taking Bull By Horns

Rich Hoffman talked with Phillies President Dave Montgomery, who wasn’t shy when speaking about the Phils prospects for 2008 and the possibility to strengthen the corps for a playoff run:

“The goal is always to improve the club. But I will say this: Shame on us if we sit back and say, ‘Everything is going fine. There’s no area where we can improve.’ That isn’t the nature of this business. That isn’t the nature of the general manager we have. He’s always looking, always challenging everyone in the organization, scouts, everyone. … You can’t stand still.”

“It’s a situational analysis. We might be in a place where we’re trying to improve a position instead of filling a need.”

The key point is “improve a position.” It seems as if the Phils think the 25-man roster assembled today is a good one, but might need some tweaking to get past the rest of the National League. What needs tweaking to me? They need a starter to slide toward the top of the rotation, and they need a bonafide LOOGY to allow JC Romero more of a setup role.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports writes the Phillies don’t have enough of a prospect package to grab a top-flight starter, such as CC Sabathia, but are looking hard for that LOOGY. MLB Trade Rumors doesn’t agree with Rosenthal’s assessment of the farm system, and neither do I. The Phils could package a few of their top guys, such as Carlos Carrasco and Adrian Cardenas, and get Sabathia for a few months. The Indians would be idiots not to give up a half year of CC for years of young prospects.

The other thing that strikes me when Montgomery says “improve a position” is it points to an external move, not anything from the farm system. I’d bet Montgomery thinks an RJ Swindle or a James Happ represents a direction change, not tweaking. That means this team is going for the strap now — World Series or death.

Frankly, I like it. This franchise only has so long before the foundation of Utley/Howard/Rollins/Hamels/Burrell is broken up (maybe after this season). You have to go for the ring now, even if it costs a couple pieces of the future. (Oh, and who would I look at? Besides Sabathia — Rich Harden, AJ Burnett, Gil Meche, Ben Sheets and maybe Paul Byrd.)

In fact, there could be a good reason the Phils picked Anthony Hewitt and Zach Collier to start this year’s draft. Maybe Cardenas, Greg Golson and Dominic Brown are more expendable than we think.

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