It's July 2 and the Phillies are eight games over .500. The season is more than halfway over, so the "It's still (insert date)" comments really don't apply anymore.
As Andrew Knapp said Sunday after hitting a walk-off homer to give the Phils a series win over the Nationals for the second straight weekend: "It shows we're here to stay."
Everything said and indicated by GM Matt Klentak lately leads us to believe the Phillies will make an addition or two before the trade deadline. They definitely should. It would improve the team, provide a jolt of energy and be a sign to the entire city that the Phillies are legitimately interested in seeing how far they can take this thing in 2018.
On MLB Network Radio Monday, former Mets GM Jim Duquette spelled out why the front office must add this month.
"Going into the series this weekend I expected this to play out a little differently. I expected the Nationals to rise to the occasion. But, in fact, it was the other way around," Duquette began.
"I was talking to a couple of evaluators the other day, separately, about the Phillies. And it was a question mark, does the front office realize how good this team is? This is a legit good team. Surprisingly so.
"They need to add something and I hope they're not holding back thinking next year is our year. This team is good enough to get to the postseason this year and compete for the division this year."
Both points are accurate. The National League is wide open. Take a second to consider who you think the best team in the NL currently is. The Braves? The Cubs? The Brewers? None of those teams have played markedly better baseball this season than the Phillies.
The Nats could take off in the second half, but it just doesn't look like their year. Stephen Strasburg is on the DL, Gio Gonzalez is regressing, Bryce Harper has the power numbers and walks but not much else, Adam Eaton and Daniel Murphy don't look completely healthy, and they lack a catcher.
Yeah, 2019 or 2020 could be even better years for the Phils, but the division might not be as winnable in those years with improvements the other clubs can make.
"Whether it's going after (Manny) Machado, which has been rumored, or Machado and pitching, this is a much better team than ... the Braves get all the talk, but the Phillies are a pretty darn good team," Duquette said.
A key player at a position of need to keep an eye on is Royals 3B Mike Moustakas. Teammate Jim Salisbury reported over the weekend that the Phillies and Royals have had discussions about Moustakas and Kansas City's scouts have been eying the Phillies' minor-league system.
Moustakas would be a definite upgrade at third base, even though he and Maikel Franco do have a similar batting average (.258 vs. 250) and OBP (.313 vs. 300) this season.
The difference is that Moustakas' power is much more consistent. He hit 38 home runs last season, and from 2015-18 he has a .816 OPS. Over that same timeframe, Franco has a .739 OPS. A 77-point difference is meaningful.
Moustakas is a free agent after the season so he'd be a two- or three-month rental. That will decrease what the Royals can realistically seek in a trade.