After a disappointing 2012 season, the Phillies need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to get back to the playoffs.
They still possess one of the strongest starting rotations in baseball in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Last season they locked up Hamels with a 6 year deal to solidify the future of the rotation. However, the Phillies now have $56.5 million locked up in those three players.
Much attention has been given to the outfield this off-season. With a glaring hole in center field, a few big names have been floated around including Michael Bourne, Josh Hamilton and B.J. Upton.
Relief Pitching may be the most important need for the Fightins, especially a need for a solid 8th inning set-up guy. Too much pressure was placed on Jonathan Papelbon last year and no one in the bullpen was ever able to step up.
The other need on the roster is 3rd Base after the Phillies declined Placido Polanco’s team option. This will be the most tricky to fix with a limited availability on the market.
Here are some of my ideas.
Center Field – Who To Pursue: B.J. Upton
When it comes to the Phillies outfield, I think staying with what they have is their best possible move. The trio of Dominic Brown, John Mayberry Jr. and Darin Ruf could be a force in the league. All three are potential power threats, and if given a chance to have a full season, they can be a valuable part of the Phillies lineup.
However, if Reuben Amaro Jr. feels the need to go after someone more proven and create a platoon, I think your best option in B.J. Upton
Eric Seidman of philliesnation.com reports that the Phillies are considered an early favorite for B.J. Upton. Upton is a considerable upgrade at center field, and there is a growing consensus that his numbers may even have been deflated due to Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay. He provides 20+ homerun power and speed at the top of the lineup.
Third Base – Who to Pursue: Mark Reynolds
Mark Reynolds could offer a couple of solutions to Phillies issues. He plays both 1st and 3rd base, and could fill in for Ryan Howard should he still feel effects from his 2011 achilles injury. This would save a spot for perhaps a utility infielder or a fourth outfielder.
He also provides the right handed power they have been missing since Jayson Werth left for Washington. He had a career-high 44 home runs in 2009 for Arizona and had 37 last season with Baltimore.
The downside is that he strikes out a lot, and could potentially combine for over 400 strikeouts with Ryan Howard. Do the home run and RBI numbers outweigh strikeouts. That’s for Charlie to decide.
Bullpen – Who to Pursue: Jason Grilli, Ryan Madson, Rafael Soriano
The lack of a bullpen for the Phillies in 2012 hurt the entire team. It put undue pressure on the starters who felt they had to go at least 7 innings to get a win and it placed pressure on the lineup to score big because a lead couldn’t be protected.
Jason Grilli is a veteran pitcher who throws hard and strikes guys out. In the 8th Inning, the swing and miss is important and Grilli could provide the kind of stability they need.
A realistic option could be to bring back the setup man who helped them to a world series in 2008, Ryan Madson. Last season they allowed him to walk because he wanted closer money, but after an injury he missed the entire 2012 season. With a depleted value, he may consider letting go of the idea of closing and come back for the 8th.
Soriano is the kind of name that Amaro loves. It’s a long-shot, but hey, so was Cliff Lee.
I think these additions make a big impact on the potential 2013 Phillies. They don’t need a Josh Hamilton or an Alex Rodriguez for the sake of adding a big name. They just need solid players who can play a role and get timely hits. The below lineup could be as formidable as any in the league.
1 – B.J. Upton – CF
2 – Jimmy Rollins – SS
3 – Chase Utley – 2B
4 – Ryan Howard – 1B
5 – Mark Reynolds – 3B
6 – John Mayberry Jr. – LF
7 – Dominic Brown – RF
8 – Carlos Ruiz – C