Do Phillies really have enough firepower to compete in the NL East?

As the MLB trade deadline came down to the wire on July 31st, it seemed as if the Philadelphia Phillies were watching more than dealing. A few teams, specifically teams that the Phillies have to be competitive with, did a lot more with next to no real casualties from the farm system. The additions to this team in the past week through the MLB trade deadline were Drew Smyly, Jason Vargas, Blake Parker, Jose Pirela, Mike Morin, and Corey Dickerson. This isn’t counting Jay Bruce and Brad Miller from June. There isn’t any real impact there, but the silver lining is that there is added depth.

Phillies addition: SP Drew Smyly

That’s just it though, it seems that the Philadelphia Phillies are making moves to have some sort of redeeming closure about this season. Matt Klentak, Andy MacPhail, and John Middleton were all in on winning before this season and yet, with these additions, they aren’t competing for a World Series. The Atlanta Braves acquired all-star CP Shane Greene and RP Mark Melancon. To successfully trade for Greene, the Braves traded Joey Wentz and Travis Demeritte. To land Melancon, Atlanta traded Tristan Beck and Daniel Winkler. Winkler was the only person to play in the MLB this season for what the Braves packaged in these trades.

Braves addition: CP Shane Greene

It isn’t just the Atlanta Braves, but the Washington Nationals made more of a leap into action with this trade deadline too. The Nationals, also ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies in the current NL East standings, acquired Daniel Hudson, Hunter Strickland, and Roenis Elias. All the Nationals gave up from their struggling farm system were RP Aaron Fletcher, OF Elvis Alvarado, and RP Taylor Guilbeau for Elias and Strickland. Those names that Washington acquired in that particular trade may not be on the marquee, but Elias is going to help that bullpen. That’s where the Phillies needed to be bolstered. SP Kyle Johnston isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, but getting Hudson may have been worth it for the push. There is more urgency from the teams Philadelphia is competing within their division.

Nationals addition: Roenis Elias

There is an opportunity to make a run at securing an NL East wildcard spot in the MLB playoffs, but that isn’t what the goal was. The Philadelphia Phillies spent money on players this year to give the added boost to make the playoffs and have a run. I think that for the Phillies organization to make decisions to acquire Drew Smyly and Jason Vargas helps alongside acquiring Corey Dickerson, but it’s like fixing something with duct tape. It’s temporary and not meant to be the finished product. The Atlanta Braves made additional moves, like adding Dallas Keuchel, earlier this season when it was obvious to every baseball fan that the Phillies should have. The Braves have the mentality to contend with teams like the Dodgers deep into the playoffs. Philadelphia is putting all of their eggs into the star players getting hot going into the post-season.

The best addition that the Philadelphia Phillies made before the 2019 trade deadline was Corey Dickerson. He is a former Gold Glove Award winner and he doesn’t have a bad bat at the plate. Having a steady glove and bat in Dickerson means less Nick Williams, which could help the Phillies with driving in runs and the overall batting average. My feeling after the end of the trade deadline is that Philadelphia is no longer in competition to win the NL East. It was going to be extremely tough to do before the deadline and afterward, the teams ahead are better than a “revamped” Phillies team. Philadelphia is playing the rest of this regular season to fit into the MLB NL Wildcard play-in spot for the MLB Playoffs.

The team that isn’t in the NL East that the Philadelphia Phillies are also competing with for that NL Wildcard spot are the Chicago Cubs. The Cubs traded SP Paul Richan, who looks good in the minor leagues, and SP Alex Lange, who is struggling in the minor leagues, for RF Nicholas Castellanos. Chicago also traded C Martin Maldonado for CF Tony Kemp, which is about as good when you compare the stats from this season. The Phillies have to be careful against a team like the Cubs because not only did Chicago have good bats when Philadelphia played them at Wrigley Stadium earlier this season, but Castellanos is a player that has his way at Citizens Bank Park. He, like Ryan Braun, seems to have great luck in Philadelphia at-bat. To be on a team that is now head to head for the NL East wildcard spot, it doesn’t make things any easier for the Phillies.

Cubs addition: Nicholas Castellanos

Matt Klentak said, “there is no player out there that we didn’t have the talent to acquire.” Like the rest of the Philadelphia Phillies faithful, my reaction is “okay, why wait.” Short of using Alec Bohm as a trade piece, I would have tried to ring in one more player for this season. That is the difference between teams like the Atlanta Braves, who lead the NL East, and the Phillies currently. When the opportunity presents itself, the trigger is pulled. Dallas Keuchel signed for less money than we all thought he would want to play for the Braves. If Philadelphia could get any player out there based on the talent available for trading, seeing is believing. That means that our front office is settling on the result of this season. The urgency to make a trade and take back the NL East wasn’t in the plans.

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

4 thoughts on “Do Phillies really have enough firepower to compete in the NL East?

  1. I really like what the Phillies have done. Klentak did a LOT over the off-season, and it hasn’t worked out, primarily because of the absurd number of injuries. I mean, 3/4 of the bullpen has had significant time on the IL — Hunter, Neshek, Robertson, Dominguez, Arano is a great set of relievers who have spent more time on the IL than off. That is very hard to plan for. So they went out and grabbed a couple of starting arms, so they could put the non-performers in the pen. All things considered, it isn’t a bad plan. Smyly looks like a steal, and Vargas might be too — cant’ be worse than what we’ve seen. And having a gold glove in Dickerson with a pretty good bad can’t hurt.

    1. Pat Neshek has been picking and choosing when he is “ready” to pitch all season. The Phillies practically just moved on from him. The injury bug with the pitching isn’t an excuse because of all the outfielders the Phillies grabbed, they hadn’t really acted on pitching when Keuchel was available. Smyly is working out in two starts this season. Before that, he had an 8.4ish ERA. I’m holding my breath on him because I would love to see him turn it all around for the sake of the team. The fact that we took these starting pitchers and made them bullpen guys is something that most fans of the Phillies saw coming a mile away for a couple of seasons now.

  2. As underwhelming as the deadline was, I’m not in favor of draining the prospect pool for a ‘maybe’ rental. That said, and this goes back to early in the season (or before), they soiled the bed on pitching. The fact that Arietta is holding his elbow together with fried clam strips says a ton about his drive, but that the FO & coaching staff are letting him go out there and not loading the stable with starters is a problem. Vargas may end up being a great move, but we needed him WITH a healthy Arietta. Naturally, I’m the armchair guy that yells at the TV when the HR doesn’t go 500′, and they do it for a living. But since I’m typing this on the internet, it must be true.

    1. I agree to an extent. I wouldn’t make Bohm a trade piece, but for the most part, our farm system is up for grabs. I’m hoping Vargas starts hot with the Phillies like Smyly unexpectedly did. For all the “stupid money” that the Phillies wanted to spend, they put money on a guy that played less than 10 innings the entire season in Robertson. That’s it for pitching. It’s not until the week before the deadline that they even revisited the idea of adding good depth. Klentak even said, “there is no player out there that we didn’t have the talent to acquire.” So make a move and act like you want to compete rather than settle for a wildcard. This is a very expensive wildcard roster at the end of the day. Even Realmuto believes the Phillies have underachieved.

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