Balls, Sticks, & Stuff
The Peggy Lee
Former Phillies closer Tug McGraw used to name his pitches. There was the Jamison fastball, which was "hard and straight", just like the Irish whiskey of the same name. There was the Cutty Sark fastball, which sailed, named because of the sailboat on the label of a Cutty Sark bottle (notice a trend?). In distilling a nickname for his change-up, McGraw chose the "Peggy Lee", because of the Peggy Lee song "Is That All There Is?". As the story goes, McGraw would throw a change-up to a batter who would swing (expecting a fastball) and miss, and the batter would ask, "is that all there is?"

On Saturday afternoon as reports filtered in regarding trades around the league, I stayed alert for news of a Phillies trade, surfing XM Radio while making my way downtown to the Red Barons/R-Braves game. In trading Ricky Ledee on Friday, I suspected the Phillies might make a deal for a championship quality centerfielder. As the 4 o'clock trade deadline came and went, I couldn't help but think of Tugger's change-up. Is that all there is? No Beltran? No Lofton? No Laynce Nix? The Phillies did phill one whole, the bullpen, with trades for Felix Rodriguez and Todd Jones, but more was expected from the Phillies brass who had hunkered down in Clearwater, Florida to create, make, field, and study trade offers from around baseball. But in the end, Ed Wade doesn't have an arbitrary deadline to address the Phillies biggest hole (or holes, plural), he can do it as soon as he comes to his senses. So in lieu of any big Phillies moves that will affect their roster, lets take a look at some of the deals that transpired around baseball that may affect whether or not the Phils make the playoffs (for a report of all the trades, has a nice synopsis):
Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs in a four-team deal with the Twins, Red Sox, and Expos.

This is a big trade for the Cubs. They significantly strengthen their offense without touching the core of their team. This gives the Cubs a huge advantage in the wild card race (they are too far out of touch with the Cardinals). Through Saturday's games, the Cubs were only 2 games behind San Diego (who did not make any significant improvements) in the wild card standings, and 3 games ahead of the Phillies. The trade certainly won't help the Cubs catch the Cardinals, but it may have won them the wild card slot.
The Marlins acquire C Paul Lo Duca, OF Juan Encarnacion, and RP Guillermo Mota in return for Brad Penny, Hee Sop Choi, and minor league LHP Bill Murphy.

On paper, the Marlins were able to address several needs, bolstering their offense from the outfield and catcher positions, and add one of this year's best set-up men to bridge the gap between their starters and Armando Benitez. Despite imroving the team overall, the Marlins may have weakened their rotation if Josh Beckett can not come back from blister problems and pitch effectively. However, at 5.5 games in back of Atlanta in the NL East race and 6 games back of San Diego in the wild card (through July 31), it may already be too late for the Marlins.
The Atlanta Braves acquire LHP Tom Martin from the Dodgers for class A minor league pitcher Matt Merricks.

Certainly, this is one of the least glamourous deals fo the day. Martin has a 4.13 ERA with a 18/14 K/BB ratio. But in 2003, Martin was one of the better set-up men in the league and given Atlanta's ability to resurrect the careers of pitchers (see Denny Neagle, John Burkett, Chris Hammond, Jaret Wright, need I go on?) it isn't out of the realm of possibility for Martin to end up getting key outs against Abreu and Thome to lock down the division.

Some significant moves were made by National League rivals to upgrade their teams, and with history not on their side, the Phillies need to start playing like the team that Ed Wade (and the rest of us) thought he had in March and not like the team that finds itself 5.5 games back of Atlanta on August 1st.

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