The Phillies had one of the best teams in the regular season this year, pulling out a 102-60 record, the best on all of baseball. In 2010, they had the best record in baseball with a 97-65 record. Most of the players on this team have been here for more than 3 seasons. They helped achieve success on the field for their tenure, but let’s face it. This team is not getting any younger.
As the magical Phillies’ 2011 season ends, most members of the team will go home and relax with their families for 5 months, then they will report to Clearwater, Florida to begin Spring Training. Players like Chase Utley, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Carlos Ruiz to name a few, but there are a lot of cards Ruben Amaro has to play with this winter. Who is going to be offered a contract and who won’t?
The main priority of the offseason is to keep this rotation together, Cole Hamels’ contract is up and Roy Oswalt has a club option for 2012. Hamels went 14-9 with a 2.79 ERA, the lowest ERA of his career. This guy has been with the Phillies since the 2002 draft. Since debuting in 2006, Hamels has a career record of 74-54 and a career ERA of 3.39, along with those stats are 1,091 strike outs. The 2008 NLCS & World Series MVP is just entering his prime. If the Phils let him go, it could be one of the worst mistakes since trading Ryne Sandberg.
Roy Oswalt holds a club option for 2012 worth $16M. It’s worth it. Pitching is what carried this team throughout the season and losing Oswalt’s spot and filling it with Joe Blanton has trouble written all over it. Despite the 9-10 record, Oswalt still managed a 3.69 ERA for the season. With his previous back injury history evident this season, he can still be labeled as a liability, but his last regular season starts of the season proved that he may be healthy once again. Exercise his option and bring back Little Roy, a starter in Joe Blanton is not needed. The guy can’t even pitch out of the bullpen without getting lit up.
Over to the rest of the diamond, Jimmy Rollins has been with the Phillies’ organization since he was 18-years-old. 15 years have passed and what does J-Roll have to show? For starters, Rollins is a three-time All-Star (2001, 2002, 2005). With an MVP season in 2007 and a World Series title in 2008, Rollins forever sealed his name in the Phillies’ recordbooks. He has also claimed 3 Gold Glove awards (2007, 2008, 2009) in his career, all at shortstop. After lackluster and injury ridden seasons in 2010 and 2011, it may have come to light that Jimmy Rollins is no longer in his prime. That doesn’t mean that he’s worthless Although he only hit .268 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI, Jimmy’s defense has not shown signs of quit. Rollins garnered a .988 fielding percentage and helped turn 79 double plays despite missing 24 games in all of 2011.
If it were me in the office, I would offer J-Roll a contract. Rollins is the heart and soul of the clubhouse, without him there it would be as if the Phillies were just a bunch of guys in the same color uniforms. Offer him a two-year deal worth at most, that would give prospect Freddy Galvis enough time to prepare for the majors.
Over to third base. Placido “Polly” Polanco, I love you man, but I think it’s time to move on. Polanco has been festered by an injured left elbow in which has taken time away from this season, and his career. A lifetime .301 hitter, Polly was a great addition in 2010, helping the Phillies get back to the NLCS. Times have changed and so has his health. Since 2010, Polanco has missed 70 games. 40 of which, came in 2011. Is Polly an everyday player still? I think it’s time that the Phillies upgraded third base. Polanco is owed $6.5 million in 2012.
In the bullpen, Ryan Madson has been a dire staple in the Phillies’ success. Being used as the closer since 2009 due to Brad Lidge’s dysfunctionality, closing out ball games has grown accustom to Ryan, as has he grown accustom to closing out ball games. Saving a career-high 32 games this year has only shown that not only is Ryan Madson becoming a great closer, but he is ready to become a long-term closer. If the Phillies sign Madson to a three-year deal plus an option for a fourth, not only may it give him a boost in morale, it may also lock the Phillies’ end-game bullpen up for a good while.
Brad Lidge just needs to go, he is not what he was in 2008 and we all know it. Brad, you were great for us in ‘08, you helped us reach what no Phillies team could for 28 years. We thank you and I wish you the best of luck in your career.
As for more revamping that needs to be done, Raul Ibanez is 39-years-old. The lefty has proven to be a streaky hitter, though when he is hot he is very hot. The bad part is, he doesn’t get hot as much as he needs to be. John Mayberry is being held back, the kid holds spectacular talent and we have all been given just a glimpse of it. Give this guy a starting spot in the lineup and the righty won’t disappoint. Although Mayberry may be used as the Opening Day first baseman due to Ryan Howard’s Achilles rupture, the Phillies need to look into revamping their bench in case of future injuries.
The Phillies won’t be the same next year and I can assure you that. Trades and free agent signings come at unexpected times. Ruben Amaro has proven this numerous times. The Phillies will be making a lot of changes this offseason. We the fans don’t know what will happen, but we can always assume.SW- Erik Seybold