Phillies beat Mets as trade buzz picks up



NEW YORKThe all-star break is over and the second half of the season is upon us.

That means two things if recent years are any indication:

The Phillies will likely keep on winning.

And trades could be brewing.

The Phils are the best second-half team in the National League the last six years. They carried a .610 post-all-star break winning percentage into Friday nights game against the New York Mets and bettered that mark with a 7-2 win at Citi Field.

Winning hasnt been the Phillies only second-half tradition in recent seasons. From Joe Blanton to Cliff Lee to Roy Oswalt, the team has made significant July trades that have fortified recent playoff runs. And while it does not appear that the Phils have the payroll flexibility to make another blockbuster movewith a major-league-best 58 wins they may not need tothey may be gearing up to trade for a complementary piece or two as they try to win a fifth straight NL East title and march deep into October in this World-Series-or-bust season.

The Phillies received two major rays of hope in Friday nights win. One was John Mayberry Jr., who continued to swing a hot bat in his return to the majors. He drove in five runs and still may end up being the right-handed bat that this team craves. The other was reliever Ryan Madson, who came off the disabled list and powered through three Mets hitters, two on strikeouts, in the seventh inning. Madson, who hit 96 mph on the radar gun, showed hes ready to return to the closers role and that could come as soon as Saturday.

If thats the case, Im ready, he said.

With Madson back, manager Charlie Manuel now has three relievers that he seems to trustMadson, Mike Stutes and Antonio Bastardo. It remains to be seen if Brad Lidge can work his way into that group when he comes off the disabled list in the coming weeks.

Stutes is a rookie and Bastardo is in his first full season in the majors. Pitching in pressure situations in a pennant race will be new to Stutes, and Bastardo has just limited experience in those roles. Thats why Phils officials are glad that Madson is back. Its also why they are out looking for relief helpin addition to a right-handed hitter that can help at the corner outfield spots.

The trade grapevine has begun to shake with reports that the Phillies are eyeing the San Diego Padres as a possible trade partner. The Padres have a pair of available relievers in Mike Adams and Heath Bell, and they have a right-handed bat for sale in Ryan Ludwick, as well. A major league source with knowledge of the Phillies thinking confirmed that the team does indeed have interest Adams and Bell, but nothing appears imminent. The Phils still appear to want a right-handed bat as much, if not more, than a reliever, so Ludwick could be an intriguing piece of the puzzle.

With a payroll over 175 million, the Phils dont have much wiggle room before hitting the 178 million luxury-tax threshold, but with big World Series dreams, the Phils might be willing to stretch themselves a little. Adams is owed about 1.25 million for the remainder of the season, Bell about 3.7 million, and Ludwick about 3.3 million. None of those numbers will be easy to digest for the Phils, but theres always the chance a potential trade partner would eat some salary if the return on the deal was good enough. Phils general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has been scouting his own system lately. He has spent time watching Single A Clearwaters prospect-laden pitching staff. Its likely he has been trying to separate the touchables from the untouchables.

Mayberry had a two-run single and a three-run double Friday night. He is hitting .348 (8 for 23) since coming back from Triple A on July 5. He has 12 RBIs in that span and 11 of them have come against right-handed pitching, which has been a weakness. Mayberrys hot streak has coincided with an adjustment in his stance. Hes using a slight crouch with a more open stance and he says that has helped the quickness and athleticism of his swing.

I feel relaxed and confident, he said. It was great to come up tonight with some runners on base and even better to get a couple of hits.

Mayberry has heard the rumblings that the Phils are looking for a right-handed bat. He would love to make that search unnecessary.

Im aware of it, he said. I just try to go out and perform well and let the higher-ups make those decisions.

I feel like this is a great opportunity for me right now. Im trying to put my best foot forward and contribute.

He certainly did that Friday night as the Phils did what they do so well: Win in the second half.

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