Now that the hangover has started to subside and the realization of what occurred Friday night has set in, expectations for 2012 have already started.
Another year has led to an early playoff exit for the Philadelphia Phillies. Despite high expectations for the entire year and being favored to win the World Series, they somehow managed to forget how to hit this postseason. As fans may see this as yet another disappointment in the long history of Philadelphia sports, I see this as an end to an era of Philadelphia baseball. The core of this team is no longer upcoming players that can catch their opponents off guard and unexpectedly exceed what even they imagined. This team has to win. This team is expected to win and this fan base will not be satisfied with an early October departure.
With that being said, this offseason brings many important decisions that could alter the path this franchise takes. Here are the top-10 quandaries that the Phillies face in order to succeed in 2012:
- The most important thing that the Phillies need to do in order to keep the team competitive in the next decade is sign Cole Hamels to a long-term deal. He is still arbitration-eligible this year, but the Phillies need to lock him up asap. They cannot risk losing him.
- Either re-sign Jimmy Rollins or find a suitable replacement. The free-agent market is very slim for shortstops, and they may be forced to overpay to bring Jimmy back. If they feel minor-league prospect Freddy Galvis is ready, then signing a veteran like Jack Wilson to help with the transition may be the way they go. Unless they give Rollins his four- to five-year deal he is asking for.
- Left field needs to be addressed. With Raul Ibanez likely leaving town as a free agent, the obvious choice is to move John Mayberry Jr. into the starting roll and find a big-league tested bat off the bench.
- Resign Ryan Madson. The team has worked for years to get Madson to feel comfortable as an everyday closer. They do not want to see him leave now that he is finally reliable.
- Find a reliable first baseman. With Ryan Howard tearing his Achilles tendon at the end of game five, it appears first base may be an issue for the Phils. His injury may take up to a year to come back from and the Fightins will have to start the season with Mayberry or a free-agent at first. Ross Gload is not the answer.
- Find a new hitting coach! For a team that had an explosive offense three years ago to look the way they did this NLDS means someone must go and Gregg Gross should be that guy.
- Part ways with Roy Oswalt. Roy may still have something left in the tank but there are to many other things that need to be taken care of this offseason.
- Find a power-hitting bat to come off of the bench: Jim Thome anyone?
- Get Domonic Brown ready for the majors. He may be your starting left fielder if Mayberry needs to play first. The talent is there but the team needs to get the confidence back for him this offseason.
- The Phillies may need to look for a third baseman because it looks like age has caught up to Placido Polanco. Hey, didn’t that Pujols guy play some third base? Oh, he did? Okay, yeah, let’s get him! …Wishful thinking.