Well, it looks as though the Philadelphia Phillies are pretty much set with their roster going into next season. My original predictions (check them out here) had some hits and some misses, but overall, there wasn’t much change that could be made to this team. The obvious counter-argument would be that the Phils have been bounced out of the playoffs the last two seasons because of their hitting. After seeing Roy Halladay give up one run in the first inning of the elimination game this year and not give up anything else the rest of the game and still lose, I can’t argue against the fact that the hitters have failed. On an aging team, a decrease in productivity can usually be expected, however, there is some light at the end of the tunnel for Phillies fans. With the addition of Hunter Pence late last year came a new sense of excitement and a different look for a complacent Phillies lineup.
A far as off-season moves go, bringing back Jimmy Rollins at a decent salary was a definite win for the Phillies and the move seems to offset what is considered by many as a bad signing financially of Jonathan Papelbon. The bench was made stronger with the additions of Laynce Nix, Ty Wigginton and Jim Thome to replace Ben Francisco, Ross Gload and Raul Ibanez. John Mayberry Jr. appears to be the new starting left fielder unless Domonic Brown has a Babe Ruth type of spring training. Mayberry showed a lot of promise last year and it will be interesting to see if he improves again this year. The offense will be without Ryan Howard for the first few months of the season so any power production from Mayberry will be a much needed plus for the Phils. Also, look for veteran Scott Podsednik to have a shot at making the team with a strong spring. He is currently signed to a minor-league deal but he is the type of veteran addition that Charlie may want for this team.
The starting pitching pitching will stay as expected with Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Blanton and Worley. Kyle Kendrick is back as a reliable sixth starter, if needed, and long arm out of the pen. The bullpen had some changes but still looks familiar. The Paplebon addition and the subtraction of both Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge was a bit of a surprise but not something over the top. Although I do believe the amount they gave Paps was a little extreme. Also, the Phillies added Dontrelle Willis in a move that could prove to be huge! Dominating left-handers out of the bullpen are not easy to find, and it is conceivable to think D-Train could flourish in such a role. Willis will also bring a love for the game that is similar to that of Pence’s, which can completely change the Phillies locker room.
Overall, I think that the Phillies did exactly what they needed to do. The resigned the heart of the team in Rollins, added some great locker room personalities in Willis, Thome and Papelbon and they let go of some older vets in Ibanez and Lidge. The next step to make sure the team continues to be successful is signing Hamels to a long-term contract. He is the key to bridging the gap between Halladay/Lee and the next generation of Phillies.
So, here it is baseball fans, the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies salary and 25-man roster:
Opening day payroll: $170MM-$175MM
C – Ruiz
1B – Howard (Mayberry Jr , Wigginton, and Thome for first few months)
2B – Utley
SS – Rollins
3B – Polanco (Wigginton to start in spots)
CF – Victorino
RF – Pence
LF – Mayberry Jr. (Brown will get a shot, especially at start of year. Also, Podsednik is a name to watch in the spring)
1B — Thome
Utility — Wigginton
SS/2B — Martinez
C — Schneider
CL – Papelbon
SU – Contreras
MR – Stutes
MR – Willis
LR – Bastardo
Keys for the offseason
1. Sign Hamels to a long-term deal.
2. Try to extend Pence for the future.
3. Give prospects a strong look during the spring.
4. Make the switch from Utley and Co. to Pence and Co. (the next generation).
5. Go after the team record of 102 wins in a season.
Do you think they look like the 2012 World Series Champs?