By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
It’s on now.
After the defending world champion San Francisco Giants added the switch-hitting Carlos Beltran via trade with the New York Mets, all eyes will be focused on what moves the Philadelphia Phillies will make heading down the stretch of the July 31st trade deadline.
The Giants acquisition of Beltran, who currently batting .289 with 15 homeruns and 66 runs batted in,sends a clear signal to the Phillies that they are not going to let get of their World Series title without a fight.
Oddly enough, Beltran’s bat didn’t make much of a difference for the Giants, at least for tonight, as went 0-for-4.
“He’s going to make a difference, he’s a good hitter,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “He’s a switch hitter and he’s got power and he’s a consistent hitter. He’s definitely going to help.”
For a San Francisco team that ranks 13th in batting among 16 other teams in the National League, Beltran might be the spark they need to jump their offense, which usually relies on playing small ball and playing station-to-station baseball to go along with their strong pitching. With Beltran, the Giants have someone with more power than they have in current starting lineup.
With all the hype in the Beltran deal, the Phillies are no doubt looking for a right-handed bat to provide some balance to a lineup full of left-handed hitters, some of whom are struggling against left-handed pitching.
After scoring seven runs in the first game of the series against the Giants, the Phillies managed to score just two the rest of the way. It many respects it was reminiscent of their struggles against the Giants in the National League Championship Series when they batted just .216. In Thursday night’s loss the Phillies were 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. They left 10 men on base.
During the postgame press conference, Manuel said while it would be nice to have that right-handed bat, the guys he has namely, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, who went a combined 1-for-16 in the last two games of the series.
“The guys we have gotta hit and be around their typical years,” Manuel said. “They don’t want to struggle
Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Giants right-handed hurler Matt Cain, who allowed just one run on four hits, was a grim reminder of how their lack of hitting prowess has killed their last two trips to the postseason. In that game, Cain shut out the Phillies in Game 3 of last year’s National League Championship Series.
Right now, all the so-called experts are saying the Phillies should trade Vance Worley or Domonic Brown along with a few prospects from their farm system for Houston Astros rightfielder Hunter Pence, currently hitting .307 with 11 homeruns and 62 RBI, or Chicago White Sox outfielder Carlos Quentin, who’s batting .262 with 20 homeruns and 62 runs batted in.
Another right-handed bat that’s been mentioned has been Tampa Bay Rays outfielder BJ Upton. The downside with Upton is that he is batting .227, but he has 15 homeruns with 53 runs batted in. There have been times throughout his tenure Tampa Bay where he hasn’t given his best effort in certain situations. But who knows? Maybe a change of scenery for Upton might just be the tonic he needs to be in position to help the Phillies down the stretch.
ESPN.com recently reported that Houston general manager Ed Wade walked away from a deal for minor league prospects right-handed pitcher Jarrad Cosart and first baseman Jonathan Singleton, who are playing for the Phillies Class A affiliate Clearwater (Fla.).
If the Phillies can’t get the big names, they may have to settle for lesser players like Oakland’s Josh Willingham, Colorado’s Ryan Spilborghs and San Diego’s Ryan Ludwick have been mentioned as possibilities. Back in 2008, it was a small move in picking up Matt Stairs who hit a big home run in Game 4 of the NLCS.
Even though the Phillies lost this series, their first since early June, Manuel is not convinced the Giants are in his teams collective heads or that San Francisco has their number.
“I think we can get ’em,” Manuel said. “I know we get ’em. I think it’s just a matter of us putting it together and for us to play the right way and that’s to pitch, hit and play good defense …It’s just a matter of us outplaying them.”