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Inside the Phillies: Amaro has options in getting a bat

The general manager still has time to trade for the offensive help the team needs.

The Phillies have scored three runs or less in their last eight games. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)
The Phillies have scored three runs or less in their last eight games. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)Read more

If you are reading this, it's nearing the end of May and not the end of the world, the end of July, or even the beginning of October.

As shortstop Jimmy Rollins noted Thursday after another silent offensive night at the ballpark, the Phillies are still in first place.

Cue Chip Diller, actor Kevin Bacon's overly optimistic character during the chaotic parade scene near the end of Animal House:

Remain calm. All is well. All is well!

YouTube it if you've never seen it.

Diller, of course, ended up flattened on the sidewalk, but he recovered to become a born-again Christian missionary in Africa. What a happy ending for him. It remains to be seen if the Phillies' 2011 offense can be born again and go on to win a World Series, as was forecast when general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. cornered the market on starting pitching over the winter.

Offensive help should be on the way soon in the form of second baseman Chase Utley, and now we are about to find out whether Domonic Brown either is or is not worthy of the top-prospect status he gained as he climbed through the minors.

Remain calm. All is well. All is well!

We cannot guarantee that all will end well or that the anemic offense will soon spring to life, but we can assure you that plenty of options will be exhausted to prevent the doomsday scenario in which the Phillies do not win the National League East or are eliminated early from postseason play.

It's possible, even probable, that Amaro will have to make a trade in order to revive an offense that has tracked south since the end of the 2009 season.

The general manager has obviously been well-qualified to make mega-trades for starting pitchers at the trade deadline in his first two seasons as general manager, but this time he will have to switch his focus.

The two big questions: Who will be available who is worth acquiring and who will the Phillies be willing to trade?

Let's address the former issue first.

It's safe to assume that if Amaro goes in search of a bat that he is going to want a righthanded hitter who can play a corner outfield position.

Without question, the most interesting potential 2012 free agent who could be available via trade is San Diego leftfielder Ryan Ludwick. He went into Saturday hitting .241 with seven doubles, eight home runs, and 29 RBIs. The batting average obviously is not that impressive - it was five points higher than Raul Ibanez's - but those power numbers are attractive, especially when you factor in that he plays in the unfriendly-to-hitters confines of Petco Park.

When focusing on another team's player, it always helps when a team is in last place, as the Padres are. San Diego, however, has a solid pitching staff and is more in need of hitters, so it may be reluctant to part with a 32-year-old player who is only three years removed from hitting 37 home runs.

Other interesting potential free-agent outfielders include Carlos Beltran, a switch-hitter who has shown a resurgence with the New York Mets; Oakland leftfielder Conor Jackson, a career .275 hitter with a .358 on-base percentage; San Francisco's Cody Ross, the 2010 postseason hero; and Vladimir Guerrero, a future Hall of Famer who is hitting better than .300 in Baltimore but now is considered a designated hitter.

All of the above players would likely improve the Phillies lineup. The cost in terms of money and players varies with each. Ludwick would likely cost the most in terms of players because he is only 32 years old. Beltran is making $18.5 million and the financially troubled and going-nowhere Mets would gladly dump that salary. The more you pay, the less you have to give up in terms of players.

It's hard to imagine the Giants trading Ross, especially to the Phillies, although they would certainly be willing to let go of Aaron Rowand, who has two years at $12 million per year left on his contract. Rowand's game has been in decline, but a move back to Philadelphia may be just the thing to reinvigorate him.

Help will be available, and the Phillies have more than enough minor-league talent to make a trade. Some of the players opposing clubs will seek are outfielder/first baseman Jonathan Singleton, catcher Sebastian Valle, and pitchers Jon Pettibone, Jarred Cosart, Trevor May, and Brody Colvin, all of whom are at single-A Clearwater.

Phillippe Aumont and J.C. Ramirez, both acquired in the 2009 Cliff Lee trade with Seattle and now pitching well at double-A Reading, have also resurfaced as attractive prospects. Teams are sure to also ask about guys such as Vance Worley, Michael Stutes, and Antonio Bastardo, all of whom are big-league ready.

For now, the sky is not falling, the world is not ending, and there is still a considerable amount of time to draw up a blueprint to acquire offensive help.

Remain calm. All is well. All is well!