John Lannan has been taken off the disabled list and will start for the Philadelphia Phillies tonight against his former employer, the Washington Nationals. Carlos Ruiz is scheduled to return later this week and if all goes well, Chase Utley could be back at second base in the near future.
In past seasons, the return of three veterans would be very helpful. But, this season it’s likely that these enhancements won’t affect the odds of a real playoff push.
Aging teams don’t often recover from early-season injuries and remain healthy through the fall. Instead, they first send a steady stream of men to their medical staffs. After that, those broken bodies are put on the DL. Then, the process simply repeats itself until the season has been lost.
Despite a strong amount of quality starts this season, the Phillies’ entire pitching staff can’t be considered a team strength.
Jonathan Papelbon is having another strong year, but he’s barely used because the middle-relief corps is violently inconsistent. As long as that reality exists, this team will never play above .500 for long.
Team defense, another lost asset, has been no more than mediocre on a good day.
The offense remains dysfunctional and will not improve until numerous disciplined bats are added to the roster. Trading for one player before the trade deadline won’t be enough. By all reasonable accounts, two-thirds of this lineup needs to be permanently adjusted.
So, it’s nice that a decent veteran lefty will reclaim his starting pitching spot, that the starting catcher will put his mask on again and that the starting second baseman should be back soon.
But, the combination of those veteran upgrades still won’t alter the middling trajectory of general manager Ruben Amaro, Junior’s team.