It was only a few years ago, but it now seems like forever that GM Ed Wade proclaimed that the Philadelphia Phillies were a small market team. My, how the Phillies have grown. These days, not only are the Phillies a big market club, but they are now front runners for acquiring one of the best pitchers in all of baseball.
GM Ruben Amaro has been outspoken about his intentions to improve his ball club. He has said all of the right things to the media, including the statement that the Phillies can add payroll and also that he has contacted numerous teams about acquiring players to make his already strong team stronger. Amaro seems as if he is not the type to sit on his hands and that is great for a Phillies fan. However, has Amaro along with the rest of the Phillies faithful been too blinded by the gold that is Roy Halladay, to see the other pressing needs that may almost be as important as acquiring the top of the line starting pitcher?
As far as our starting eight position players are concerned, we have no needs. Our line-up is solid through and through and may be one of the best in all of baseball. We have a prolific offense that can score runs at will. Sure, they can be streaky at times, but we may have seen the worst drought this year through a terrible stretch in June. They survived that stretch and came out relatively unscathed.
Look past our starting eight and we start to see where the problem lies, The Phillies are seriously lacking in the depth department. Although infielder Greg Dobbs has been better of late, he has certainly not been the same player as last year. Lack of playing time could account for his struggles as his average improved with the absence of Raul Ibanez.
The Phillies other back-up infielder Eric Brunlett has been awful at the plate this season batting a weak .139 this year. Defensively Brunlett has been o.k., but with outfielder Pat Burrell now gone, his services as a defensive replacement have not been as needed. If either Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins go down with an injury this season, Brunlett will be a canyon sized hole in the line-up.
Rookie outfielder John Mayberry Jr. has been equally as bad. Batting .180 so far this year, Mayberry has shown so far that pinch hitting is not his forte’. Although he adds power from the right side, his inability to hit a breaking pitch has been his ultimate downfall. Furthermore, Mayberry doesn’t seem to be crisp as a defensive outfielder either.
One bright spot has been outfielder Matt Stairs. So far this season in 60 at bats, he is batting .283 with four home runs and 13 runs batted in. Even though his defense is suspect, he does offer Charlie Manuel a nice left handed power option coming off the bench.
It doesn’t take a master of sabermetrics to see the Phillies offensive numbers dropped dramatically in Ibanez’s absence. Overall as a team they struggled. If Utley or Rollins were to go down with an injury, using Brunlett as a replacement is a scary proposition.
Ruben Amaro cannot get lost in his pursuit of Halladay. He needs to realize that the depth of this team is shallow and needs to be deeper. Moves need to be made. I am not in the business of speculating who the Phillies may get to strengthen the bench, but I hold out hope that Amaro is already in the process of acquiring help. Amaro certainly has minor league options to look at but as the post season nears the Phillies will need a player with big league experience. As it stands now, the Phillies bench is woefully inadequate and Amaro needs to improve upon it.