For the first time in a long time, the Phillies' standing in the hierarchy of the National League is obvious. They are a front-runner, and right now look probably to remain that way as July and the trade deadline approaches.
Rich Hofmann's point of view is this: the further the Phillies cement themselves as a legit World Series contender, the more pressure there will be on them to ensure that they have a roster capable of winning the title. The question is no longer, "Is this team good enough to make the playoffs." It is, "Is this team good enough to win it all?"
David Montgomery doesn't necesarilly agree with Rich. But he also insists the Phillies can't stand still.
"I don't believe it's different," Montgomery, the Phillies' president, told Hofmann. "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 [Pat Gillick] we have. He's always looking, always challenging everyone in the organization, scouts, everyone.
"You can't stand still," Montgomery said.
Early reports seem to indicate there will be a ton of talent on the market this summer.
What could the Phillies need?
1) Obviously, everyone needs starting pitching. Phillies starters have been solid this season, but most World Series champions have a consistently formidable No. 2 starter behind their ace. And right now, the Phils don't have it. Problem is, they probably don't have the prospects to trade for someone like C.C. Sabathia, who is supposedly on the market. Interestingly enough, two former Phillies - Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla - could be available from the Rangers and Randy Wolf could be on the block in San Diego. John McGrath at the Tacoma News Tribune raises the possibility of the Phillies trading for Erik Bedard, but there is no evidence that the Mariners' marquee offseason acquisition is even on the trading block.
2) Let's say the Phillies can't upgrade the rotation. Another option is to make the bullpen even more lights-out than it is now. They've wanted to acquire another lefty reliever since spring training, but the Denver Post indicates that Rockies star Brian Fuentes isn't for sale yet.
3) How about another left-handed bat with some speed off of the bench? Greg Dobbs is a lefty, and when Jayson Werth starts in right, Geoff Jenkins is there. But on nights Jenkins starts, Dobbs is the only option. So Taguchi, Eric Bruntlett and either Chris Coste or Carlos Ruiz are all righties. The Phillies also miss Michael Bourn's speed off the bench. A glaring weakness? Probably not. But there is definitely room for improvement.
Last night: Home runs have hurt Myers this season.