Phils Stay Still While Foes Reload

Don't look now, but the picture in the National League East is changing. Actually, all over baseball, teams are jockeying for position and contemplating changes that will best help them rise to the top. While many teams are contemplating, for <i>some</i> teams in the NL East, the actual work has already begun.

Don't worry. Nobody in the NL East dealt for Carlos Beltran, who figures to be a hot commodity by this time next month. The Phillies will have their hands full with Beltran this weekend with the Royals in town and the last thing they need is him taking up residence - even temporary residence - in the NL East.

Still, three teams made moves that they figure will help. See if you can guess which two teams did not make any moves to help themselves.

The first shot came from The Big Apple. The Mets sent disgruntled reliever David Weathers to Houston for outfielder Richard Hidalgo. As a member of the Astros, Hidalgo was feeling the heat from a poor start. You might say this was one disgruntled player being dealt for another disgruntled player. Many times though, these deals provide a change of scenery and enough of a spark to make a difference.

An article on, the Mets believe that they have already identified a flaw in Hidalgo's mechanics that interim hitting coach Don Baylor can remedy and return Hidalgo to form. If that happens, the Mets added a huge piece of the puzzle.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the Marlins have a project of their own to work on. The fish picked up White Sox reliever Billy Koch for minor league shortstop Wilson Valdez. Now Koch is a major project, since he has struggled mightily in Chicago. Koch notched a 5.40 ERA with the Sox and had three blown saves. Last season, he had a 5.77 ERA with four blown saves. The good news is that in Florida, Koch will work as a setup man, taking the place of the injured Chad Fox. That move alone might take some pressure off of him and make him a key part of the Marlins bullpen. Again, the change of scenery - and coaches - theory comes into play.

Team number three is none other than the Atlanta Braves.

Former Phillie Paul Byrd is set to start for the Braves Saturday night against Cleveland. Byrd hasn't been overly impressive in his minor league rehab starts. Odds are that his impact - if any - will be small for Atlanta. An article on even goes so far as to point out that; "There is precious little reason to expect Byrd to actually pitch well for the Braves, not this season."

Of course, another article on points out that the Braves are also interested in Curtis Leskanic. Again, this might not be an earth-shattering move if the Braves were to sign Leskanic, but it's a move. It's not stagnation.

So, a recurring theme is teams making moves to help themselves. Novel idea. Notice too, that in the case of the Marlins, they have made a move to help cover an injury to one of the key members of their pitching staff. Again, what a thought, huh? Let's see, who else in the NL East could stand to make a move to help themselves and cover an injury? Well, actually, both Montreal and the Phillies are in that boat, but since the Expos boat is pretty well sunk, let's focus on Philadelphia.

Make a freakin' move!

The Phillies need to be active. They need to show their players that they're going to do things to get them the players that they need to win. The sorry part is that the moves that the Phillies have made have been mostly negative. Sending Shawn Wooten to AAA Scranton has him brooding and so down on signing with the Phillies, that he's close to forming a Tyler Houston fan club. Chase Utley has been sent out twice this season even though the Phillies admit that he could help their club. They're looking "long term" according to GM Ed Wade. Yes, Wade went so far as to say "we know he could help us," when talking about sending Utley back to Scranton.

There is one move that the Phillies could make that would send a message. If they want to send a real loud message, they could make two. Neither move would require a phone call to another team or the sacrifice of even one prospect.

The secondary move would be the demotion of Marlon Byrd. It could put Jason Michaels hot bat into the lineup and would also clear a spot to bring Chase Utley back from AAA.

The bigger move would be to bring up Gavin Floyd. This move should have been made earlier, but better late than never. The Phillies are talking about getting Vicente Padilla back in the rotation for next Friday and Randy Wolf back for the following Sunday. Who's going to start on Saturday? Brian Powell? Paul Abbott? How about Gavin Floyd? It generates some excitement, gives the kid a little exposure and you can say it's truly just for one start since the rotation would be back at full strength after his start. The pressure to keep him in the majors wouldn't be there. Of course, if either Padilla or Wolf aren't ready, you have the kid around to fill in their spot in the rotation.

Ed Wade's reputation is not filled with a history of making key in-season trades. He's more of an offseason kind of wheeler-dealer. Remember last year when he professed to the very end that "this team can win now"? Then, the day after the Phillies were eliminated, he said "we thought this team could win now." The biggest deals that Wade has made during a season was the one that sent Curt Schilling to Arizona and Scott Rolen to St.Louis. Both of those trades were made out of necessity, brought on at least in part by the players that the Phillies shipped out of town. Wade needs to show a new way of thinking and do something to help his club out.

The divisional portrait has changed. A full three-quarters of the Phillies division rivals made moves to improve themselves and that was just in the space of a few days. It almost feels like everyone is waiting and watching for the Phillies to make a move. As fans, we can only hope.

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