The fact that they signed the shell of what used to be Pedro Martinez on the day after the All-Star Game tells you the Phillies' biggest second-half need is starting pitching. The fact that they immediately placed him on the 15-day disabled list tells you they're still looking.
The Phillies are in a good spot, sitting atop the NL East in front of teams far more flawed than they are. Buoyed by their champion's confidence, they should be considered the co-favorites, along with Joe Torre's Dodgers, to represent the National League in the World Series – even if they don't do a thing before the trade deadline to augment their roster.
The big question for the Phillies as the second half of the baseball season gets underway seems to be whether to make an all-out push for Toronto ace Roy Halladay or not.In the past few days, I've spoken with people familiar with the Phillies' front office, and they paint a picture of an organization in the midst of a philosophical debate. Some want to push hard for Halladay, seeing him as an opportunity to separate them from the rest of the league and make a run at a very rare World Series repeat.
But others wonder if the smarter move, in light of having reached the pinnacle in 2008, would be to pull back a little bit, hold onto the top prospects they'd need to send the Blue Jays in a Halladay deal and focus on keeping their farm system deep and stocked so they can remain competitive long into the future.
Make no mistake; the Phillies have every intention of trying to repeat as World Series champs. If they decide not to go after Halladay (or if they go after him and fail to land him), they're likely to make a play for starter such as Seattle's Erik Bedard or Jarrod Washburn, or Arizona's Doug Davis or Jon Garland.
They have a justifiable fear that their pitching staff could wear down in the second half, as the pitching staffs of World Series teams usually do the following season. And with Brett Myers out, Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer struggling and young J.A. Happ contributing meaningful innings, they have reason to wonder if their staff is deep enough even if it stays healthy.
The question the Phillies will confront in the next couple of weeks is whether they want to make the killer move that stomps on the collective throat of the rest of the division, or whether they want to keep the status quo (and their best prospects) and try and repeat with basically the same group that won it all last year and finds itself in first place at the 2009 turn.
They have what it takes to get Roy Halladay. They just have to decide whether they want to go for it or not.
Dan Graziano is a sports writer for newjerseynewsroom.com and FanHouse.com.