I wanted to write something where I put down my thoughts on how the Phillies should operate this offseason. I want to talk to the other fans who I communicate with every day. I want to talk to the die-hards, the bandwagoners and everyone in between about just how the Phillies should approach this offseason.
Note, this is only my opinion, not what is going to happen, and as of Dec. 2, based on what we know for fact so far, this is how I would assemble a team for 2013.
After taking about a month off from the blog, this is my offseason wish list – with some obvious adjustments due to some already complete signings – and this is my master plan.
I’ve seen quite a few of these, most recently from Phillies beat writer Kevin Cooney from the Bucks County Courier Times/Doylestown Intelligencer. I want to state now that I do agree with nearly all of his points but while my reasons are similar, my explanations will be far different from his.
So here are some of the things I would do.
At centerfield, sign Angel Pagan. There are two reasons for this: one, he’s cheaper and two, he’s the best outfielder out there for that price. I’m sick of listening to fans talking about Josh Hamilton like he’s superhuman. He’s hardly that.
I had one fan tell me a Top 4 featuring Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Hamilton and Ryan Howard would be the best in baseball. Problem is this is not 2007 anymore. Howard and Utley are major health concerns and adding Hamilton would just add to the stress. Additionally, for seasons on end, all I remember hearing was about how the Phillies needed to break up the lefties in the lineup. So the solution this season is to sign another lefty to the lineup and overload the left-handed hitters in the order?
Additionally, I think signing Pagan opens the door for another deal to be made. The Phillies haven’t been linked to Cody Ross or Nick Swisher – two outfielders with more power in their bats – but perhaps they increase their interest so they sign two outfielders for the price it would take to sign Hamilton.
Or perhaps you sign a player like Pagan and just see what you get out of young, up-and-comers on this team. Domonic Brown needs to get regular starts sooner or later. The Phillies started to do that last season. This season, he’ll likely get a chance on Opening Day. The same goes for Darin Ruf. His first month of major-league action was solid but a small sample size. If the spring goes well for the 26-year-old, he’s worth a shot in left field.
Cooney added a point about possibly trading for Michael Cuddyer from the Rockies or Josh Willingham from the Athletics. If prices are not too high, I’d shop for reasonably-priced players. Even Alfonso Soriano sounds appealing if for the right price. But if he costs the farm, he’s not worth. Nothing is for the Phillies at this point.
In terms of relief pitching, the Phillies must sign either Mike Adams, Koji Uehara or Joakim Soria. Any one of the names will do because the hole that needs to be filled in the bullpen is set-up. The Phillies really don’t need to remodel the bullpen. They need a bonafide set-up man. Antonio Bastardo will be back as the lefty specialist. Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst and Michael Stutes – if healthy – are expected to be possible bullpen guys as well. Jonathan Papelbon obviously returns as the closer.
At third base, I agree with Cooney’s idea that the Phillies stick with Kevin Frandsen and/or Freddy Galvis for now until the trade deadline where a rental player may be available or Cody Asche may be ready to play in the majors. With Asche, it’s a waiting game. With the third-base market, it’s the same waiting game.
Recently non-tendered DH/first baseman Mark Reynolds played several seasons at third base in previous years. While he is not a strong defensive infielder and his strikeout total is alarming, he could be a decent right-handed power bat. Again, much like a lot of the Phillies’ offseason targets, he’s worth a look and an offer if the price is right.
What people seem to forget is that the Phillies were not actually as bad as their 81-81 record last season indicated. They were without Chase Utley until the last week of June. They were without Ryan Howard until the first week of July. They won 81 games with a rotation that featured an injured Roy Halladay and a snake-bitten Cliff Lee.
One bad season doesn’t make or break a player, and the good years far outweigh the bad for pitchers like Halladay and Lee. If not for the health of Utley, Howard and Halladay, in addition to the bullpen’s struggles, the Phillies would have been a 90-95 win team in 2012.
So instead of thinking the Phillies are miles away from success and therefore need to make as big a splash as possible, think about the real problem areas of 2012. Think about how the Phillies didn’t have the tools to replace the holes in the field discombobulated roster while players who truly played the positions a bunch of role players were being asked to fill were doing their best to fill.
The Phillies are trying to come up with a plan that works both economically and systematically. And in doing that, no stone is going unturned.
So in the next week, we’ll see just how much the Phillies are trying to win a money war or go after talent that fits the current state of the team more.