The calendar has turned to June and the Phillies are in first place in the National League East.
Once upon a time, this might have brought a level of contentment to the organization. First place in June. Let's ride it and see where it takes us.
The philosophy changed last year - for the better - when the Phils won the World Series. The core of that team is still intact and organization leaders are still very much in a win-now mode. That's why the team is out there looking for another starting pitcher.
There's a chance the Phils could get to the postseason with the pitching they have. But they can't take the chance of coming up short, not with this ripened nucleus of players. And beyond the regular season, the Phils have to think of what their postseason rotation might look like. Having a strong 1-2 combo at the top of the rotation is crucial in the postseason, and the Phils have been weakened by the loss of Brett Myers.
So the Phils are hunting for another pitcher, and from the sound of it, they're not just looking for an off-the-rack arm. They want someone that will make them better, an upgrade on what they have. Jake Peavy interests them, but he doesn't want to leave San Diego. The Astros' Roy Oswalt and the Blue Jays' Roy Halladay would interest the Phils - if their teams were to make them available. Ditto for Erik Bedard, if the Mariners put up the "For Sale" sign.
To get the pitcher they want, the Phils will have to give up something, most likely young, talented, inexpensive prospects. Let's take a look at some of the names that other clubs are likely to ask for and explore the Phillies' willingness to deal them.
Teams will ask about these guys, but they aren't going anywhere.
Kyle Drabek, RHP, 21 - A hard-nosed competitor with a power fastball and power curveball. He projects as a top-of-the-rotation starter or a closer. He could arrive in Philly late this season.
Jason Knapp, RHP, 18 - He threw 98 m.p.h. in a predraft workout at Yankee Stadium last year. He has the type of power arm you don't see often and has shown progress with his off-speed stuff in his first full pro season at single-A Lakewood.
Dominic Brown, OF, 21 - A five-tool talent often compared to a young Darryl Strawberry because of his 6-5 frame and whippy lefthanded swing. The Florida State League all-star has the ingredients to be a major-league all-star if he keeps progressing.
For the right price, maybe
The Phils would probably listen to offers on these guys, but the return had better be significant.
J.A. Happ, LHP, 26 - Just about untouchable because he's so important to the current rotation. Other teams will ask about him because he's inexpensive and far away from free agency. If the offer is anything short of Halladay, hang up the phone.
Carlos Carrasco, RHP, 22 - Yes, he's had some growing pains at triple A, but most pitchers do. He still projects as a big-league starter with good stuff across the board. Phils must be judicious because this guy has good value.
Antonio Bastardo, LHP, 23 - His value is soaring as a starter but scouts who have seen him frequently believe he needs a consistent breaking ball. His fastball and change-up are both excellent. He could be the next J.C. Romero, and there's great value in that.
Freddy Galvis, SS, 19 - His critics say he is a one-tool guy. His supporters say that tool (fielding) is so impressive that it rivals Jimmy Rollins' and they're willing to wait to see if the bat comes around.
Zach Collier, OF, 18 - He was the 34th overall pick in last year's draft, got $1.02 million to sign, and projects as a good major-league hitter.
Anthony Gose, OF, 18 - He leads all of minor-league baseball with 36 steals (through Thursday) at single-A Lakewood. Athletic player could be team's centerfielder of the future.
You'd think about it
The Phils might be a little more receptive to dealing one of these guys, but only for something that will upgrade the big-league team.
Lou Marson, C, 22 - The jury is very much split on whether he'll be a frontline catcher or backup. Either way, he projects as big-leaguer, and there's value in that. With Carlos Ruiz set in the majors, the Phils might sacrifice some depth and deal Marson for a significant piece.
Jason Donald, SS, 24 - Will he be an everyday player or a super-utility man? Could he be the Phils' third baseman next year? Are his struggles with the bat at triple A just normal growing pains? These are questions the Phils must weigh. The Red Sox, thirsty for a shortstop, are doing a lot of homework on Donald, and they might deal Brad Penny for him. Is that enough of an upgrade for the Phils?
Michael Taylor, OF, 23 - Excellent hitter with soaring value. The Phils would not be eager to move him, but he's behind Brown on the prospect chart and he would bring a nice price.
John Mayberry Jr., OF, 25 - He's a better all-around player than Taylor, but not as a good a hitter. The corner-outfield depth that he and Taylor provide could mean one of them gets dealt.
Vance Worley, RHP, 21 - He might not have the sizzle of some prospects, but he's a man on the mound and should pitch in the middle of someone's rotation someday. The Phils need to think before they give him up, but if he provides an upgrade that will help the 2009 team win, well, they might have to do it.
Sergio Escalona, LHP, 24 - His value has risen, but he might be Scott Eyre next year.
The Phils would probably be most willing to talk about this group of prospects, but the returns might not be as high. Still, no one from this group would be given away.
Drew Carpenter, RHP, 24 - Something about him makes us think "big-league pitcher."
Joe Savery, LHP, 23 - Former No. 1 pick has not become a dynamic prospect, but he's winning at double A.
Mike Stutes, RHP, 22 - Projects as a big-leaguer, role to be determined.
Kyle Kendrick, RHP, 24 - He's got experience and 21 big-league wins.
Heitor Correa, RHP, 19 - The Brazilian is a long way away, but scouts like his arm.
Yohan Flande, LHP, 23 - Late bloomer has a good enough fastball and change-up to be intriguing.
Travis D'Arnaud, C, 20 - He has upside and plays a premium position.