What The Phillies Should Do For 2012
By Bloggo Schloggo
The Phillies have the best starting rotation in baseball in my estimation. Halladay, Lee & Hamels are as good as any 3 starters in the game. Oswalt has the capablities as he had shown when he first came to the Phils in the 2nd half of the 2010 season. I am beginning to doubt his commitment to the team and baseball as a whole. He also has health issues which may or may not be the cause of his poor performance overall. With the $16 mil option I think the Phils should send him packing. Especially with the great performance of young Vance Worley. The Phils have a solid 4 man rotation without Oswalt. Kyle Kendrick performed fairly well although at times spotty but well enough to be a 5th starter in any rotation.
What to do for 2012? Not much. The starting rotation should be fine as is with or without Oswalt.
The Phils have a pretty good group of young relievers and more to come out of the farm system in the near future. I think a solid lights out closer is needed. Madson handled himself very well in that role this past season but I think he would be better as an 8th inning set up guy. I think Madson pitching the 8th is his perfect role. We need a bona fide 9th inning guy with the hard nosed, tough guy mentality that throws heat guided missiles for strikes that puts fear into opposing batters. When Bastardo is on he shows he can be a closer making hitters swing at air. But he isn’t established enough to fill that spot just yet. We need an established veteran that is a professional closer. Several Phils relievers are capable to handle any middle relief roles including Stutes and Herndon. Blanton can also provide a few innings of relief and also an occasional start when needed. Lidge is too injury prone and unpredictable and is not worth the $12.5 mil option on his contract.
What to do for 2012? Not much again other than a premier, shut it down, imposing closer.
1st Base– I really like Ryan Howard but for me he is more frustrating than any other player on the team. Yes he has power and hits home runs and is always an RBI leader. He is also prone to slumps, erratic plate appearances and inconsistency. After 4 years with 45+ home runs the last 2 he has averaged 32. His RBIs are also down 25 to 35 the last 2 seasons. His RBIs are more about the guys batting in front of him getting on base and him batting clean up. I have never seen a big league hitter look so out of sync at times. Totally uncomfortable about when and when not to swing. Looking at pitches he could cream and flailing at pitches in the dirt or a foot off the plate. A .253 batting average and 172 strike outs is nothing to write home about. With Howard’s multi-year, multi mil contract he’s not going anywhere. So Pujolses, Fielders, etc, 1st basemen won’t be coming to Philly.
2nd Base– Utley is about as solid a baseball player as you’ll find. Especially at the 2nd base position. Like Howard he has also been in decline. I’m looking for Utley to rebound and have a big 2012- that is if he can stay healthy. His injury problems have really hurt what was a promising hall of fame type career. He’s still one of the best at his position. Hopefully he can stay healthy and pick up where his career was and hit .300 with 30 homers. Utley is not going anywhere either.
Shortstop- Defensively what can you say? Jimmy Rollins is one of the best. He is getting older. Still Rollins was able to steal 30 bases. He can be a bit streaky but when he is on he is definitely an asset to the team as their lead off man. My bet is Jimmy will again be the Phils starting shortstop but look for other possibilities. Rollins is looking for a 5 year deal from the Phils. Triple-A shortstop Freddy Galvis is ready to be an everyday shortstop. Galvis, who will turn 22 in April, was named the Phillies’ top offensive Minor Leaguer after batting .278. Additionally, his fielding is considered above average. Rollins will probably be the Phils starting shortstop for 2012.
3rd Base– This position is where there is a likelyhood for a major change. There are a lot of good fielding, hard hitting with power third basemen out there. Polanco is somewhere around 37 years old. He’s a career .300 hitter although he batted .278 this past season. He also is great defensively. The Phillies need more punch in their line-up and a third baseman with say a .275 or better average and can give you 25+ home runs would definitely be an asset. Defensive abilities are also a very important consideration at this position. Look for someone else to be playing 3rd base this coming season probably through a trade or free agency.
Right Field– Hunter Pence has a total wrap on this position. He has been a blessing to the team. In just 207 at bats with the Phils he hit 11 homers with a .324 batting average. The only Phillie to bat over .300. He will not be going anywhere and will get a negotiated pay raise.
Center Field– Shane Victorino will again be the starting center fielder. When he is on he is on fire. He batted .279 with 17 home runs and 19 stolen bases. His speed makes him an apt centerfielder. Victorino is somewhat of a paradox. He’s built to be a leadoff hit for average singles and doubles hitter. A guy that can make a single into a double with the stolen base. At times I think he believes he is a power hitter and that can get him into trouble. He becomes less selective at the plate which means more strike puts and fewer walks. Victorino is not going anywhere unless the Phils can make a deal for a center fielder that can hit .300 and give you 30+ homers. There aren’t a whole lot of players out there available with those kind of numbers.
Left Field– Raul Ibanez is close ton 40 years old. He’s a solid player that goes out and does his job everyday just like the guy that carries a lunch bucket to work. The guy deserves a lot of credit despite the deep slumps he can go into annually. The problem is there are 2 top young guys that need that position. Namely- Mayberry and Brown. One bats left the other right. Mayberry batted .273 with 15 HRs and 49 RBI’s in only 267 at bats. Brown hit a disappointing .245 with 5 HRs and 19 RBIs in 184 ABs. Brown has so much potential and bats well over .300 in the minors. He deserves regular playing time to prove one way or the other he is going to be a part of the Phillies future. Mayberry on the other hand I think is a bona fide big leaguer. A platoon situation determined by righty/lefty opposing pitchers maybe the way to go at least to start the season. Mayberry also can play 1st base. The Phils aren’t getting any younger so these young players are going to have to start filtering into the system gradually. Left Field at the moment is probably the biggest question mark for the Phils going into 2012.
Wilson Valdez you can’t put a value on. The guy can play anywhere and although his hitting maybe on the light side he’s a money ball player that hits-bunts-walks when it counts most. Utility players are always considered expendable and are throw ins on multi-player trade deals but Mr. Wilson should be an untouchable and remain with the Phils. Martinez is also valuable due to his versatility. Gload and Francisco are decent journeyman type players. But if needed to complete a deal as an extra player in a trade for a top rate third baseman they have to be in the expendable class.
To surmise: the Phillies still have a great team with most of the same pieces in place for the 2012 season and forseeable future. A couple moves maybe for a closer or set up man and a bat or two with more punch should be the priorities on the Phillies shopping list at least for now.
- Is Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies Overrated? (bleacherreport.com)
- Ryan Howard Injury: Slugger’s $125 Million Extension a Mistake (bleacherreport.com)
- Philadelphia Phillies: 12 People Most Affected By Not Winning the World Series (bleacherreport.com)
- Philadelphia Phillies: 3 Prospects Who Can Make an Impact in 2012 (bleacherreport.com)
- 4 Reasons the Braves Will Be Better Than the Phillies in 2012 (bleacherreport.com)
- Rollins eyes new deal, preferably with Phils (mlb.mlb.com)
- Philadelphia Phillies: Why John Mayberry Jr. Should Bat Cleanup Every Day (bleacherreport.com)
- Phillies ponder their future after falling way short (cbssports.com)
- Phillies are deeper than just their stars (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Amaro says Phils have championship lineup (mlb.mlb.com)
- Bloggo’s Number Crunch- Odd Odds (chuckoliver.wordpress.com)