"A tract of land completely surrounded by water, not large enough to be called a continent." The Phillies may very well be called an island. A good team, a decent nucleus: "a central part about which other parts are grouped or gathered around."
Unfortunately, the "other parts" that gather around it are sometimes suspect. The club may have the best nucleus it has had since Lee Thomas and chief boy scout leader Eddy Wade put together in the '91 and '92 seasons. Then '93 was a joy ride through the rapids. Unfortunately, that club fell apart faster than a barrel over the Niagara Falls. Let's take a look at the present day nucleus, or the so-called untouchables:
- Chase Utley
- Ryan Howard
- Jimmy Rollins
- Shane Victorino
- Cole Hammels
- Bret Myers
- Carlos Ruiz
I say, don't trade any of these players prior to July 31. That leaves a barrel full of players led by Aaron Rowand, who just might be the best card Gillick-an's Island can play. Rowand is a good ball player. He might be able to bring a middle inning reliver whose name isn't Jose Mesa and go on and help a team that needs an outfield bat and glove in mid-season.
That way, the Phillies can put Victorino in center where he belongs and move Greg Dobbs to right. Dobbs is hitting a respectable .284 with 6 HRs and 25 RBI, not bad for a part time player. This would open a spot on the bench for Chris Coste, who could help the club with his bat late in the game. I'm not saying Coste can push the island over the top, but he can hit, especially in pressure situations.
What else can they do? Are any of the other parts gathered around the nucleus worth enough to draw talent to Gillick-an's Island, to help push the team ahead of the Mets and Braves? Will clubs trade for Barajas, or the home run ripping-demon, Helms? Or any of the stiff arms out in the bullpen?
You're kidding right? I asked someone the other day, "what would you do to improve the team." He answered, "I'd trade for one or two good relief pitchers." Trade what? Trade one of the nucleus? Or one of the spare parts? Or perhaps empty the already depleted minor leagues?
So, unless I'm missing something here, a Mesa signing is about the best we can get excited about. Maybe Aaron Rowand bringing someone slightly better than a stiff. So get ready for the rest of the up and down Phillies season, because on this Gillick-an's Island, there are no rescue boats in sight.