Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Now What For the Phillies?

The Philadelphia Phillies of 2010 were built to win this year and through luck or design, they didn't quite make it to the World Series for the third year in a row. The Roy Halladay trade worked out in spades, but it also cost them valuable prospects leaving little left behind. Of all the Phillies prospects, only one (Domenic Brown) is considered a five star prospect and he struggled in his debut in September. The average age of the team was 31.9 and of the starting line up, only Shane Victorino was under 30. So now that the Phillies didn't make it to their ultimate goal, where do they go from here?

At the moment, it doesn't appear that they are interested in signing Jayson Werth long term. They believe Dominic Brown is their new right fielder. But Werth is a proven commodity and you have to figure that Raul Ibanez, who will be 39 in 2011, won't continue to contribute the way he has been. Werth is only 31 and yeah, he is streaky and yeah, he strikes out a lot, but he led the team in OPS+ and is a proven winner. Why not sign him for three years and put him in left and give Brown the right field slot? Brown hasn't shown himself to be a great fielder though, so maybe you would keep Werth in right and move Brown to left where he can't be any worse than Ibanez.. But either way, the Fan thinks the Phillies should think long and hard before letting Werth walk away.

The other big questions are at short and third. Jimmy Rollins had his second straight off year. He's only 31, so you don't start to question his age like he was Derek Jeter or something. But Rollins has been a bit of a mess lately. He's still excellent in the field, still runs the bases well, still walks his fair share, but his overall numbers the last two years don't add up and his constant battles with injuries are troubling. But Rollins is their iconic player and he will be their shortstop in 2011. But what about third? Polanco played hurt almost the entire half, which didn't really do the Phillies any favors. Polanco became a shell of the player he has been and finished under 100 on his OPS+ and did not have a good year in the field. He will be 35 next year, so in this observer's mind, he shouldn't be counted on and other plans should be made. Beltre would be a good deal for them if they were interested.

The rest of the line up is set. Ryan Howard, for better or for worse, has that big contract and he will give you power and a good On Base Percentage. But he regressed in the field this year, which is hard for someone with his negative fielding stats to do, and his homer total was a mere 31. That's low for him. It didn't help things that Charlie Manuel said that Howard never found his swing in the post season and Howard responded by stating his swing never went away. Hmm... That can't be a good thing.

Chase Utley continues to be the best second baseman on the planet. At 32 in 2011, he can be counted on to have a few more good years. Victorino is solid, if not spectacular in center and Ruiz has really come into his own as a catcher.

The Phillies control the Big Three for 2011 and that's always a good thing. Cole Hamels will continue to get better. He's a young pup yet at 27 and has many more good years ahead of him. Oswalt will be 33 and Halladay, 32, but besides the increased risk of injuries, shouldn't have any problems pitching well over the next couple of years. All the Phillies would need then would be to figure out the fourth and fifth spots. It would be safe to say that Moyer is out of the equation. The Phillies need to decide what to do with Kyle Kendrick. At this point, it would seem best for all parties to trade him for whatever they can get. Blanton is okay as a fifth starter. So the Phillies need a number four starter. Vince Worley is interesting. He continued a successful Triple A season with success with the Phillies in September. Give him a shot during Spring Training and see what happens.

The Phillies bullpen is solid and under contract for another year. The only replacement should be Contreras who, at his age, can't be counted on for anything significant. Romero, Durbin, Madson and Lidge all had solid years, though Lidge has maintained some of his more adventurous ways. But except for the walks, he had a much better year in 2010.

The age of the Phillies isn't going to change much any time soon. But the talent of those aged ones should give Phillies phans just as much hope for continuing success next year. The age of the team means that peak seasons shouldn't be expected, but if they all come close to career norms, that should be enough. The big questions will be if Rollins and Howard continue to decline and how well Charlie Manuel can keep his team on his side. They should make a concerted effort to sign Werth though. Losing him will be a tough one, especially with his right handed bat. Regardless, the Phillies will be the team to beat next year at least one more time.

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