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Monday, October 10, 2011


And to add to that point, the '08 Phillies were not as good as the '08 Cubs or even the '08 Dodgers. They just happened to outplay them. We're starting to learn the postseason is entirely different beast.

OK omit the part about playing the '08 Cubs obviously.

Contend or Not, the single biggest question facing the 2012, 13, 14, 15, 16 Phillies is now Ryan Howard's ability to recover from his Achilles injury. If he doesn't, that's a mighty blow from which they will have to get very lucky to find anywhere near his level of production from a cost-controlled player for the duration of that contract. Especially in light of their current farm system and the dearth of power potential position players.

It's true you can't influence the way a team plays in the postseason completely with off-season roster moves, but I believe that the team as currently constructed is not built to give them the best chance to win in the postseason.

With this pitching staff, an explosive (although not nearly as explosive as it once was) but inconsistent offense is not the right choice. We should have a lineup that excels at getting on-base and moving runners, consistently scoring 3-4 runs per game. That is an offense that is built to win in the postseason and combined with this pitching staff can take us to the promised land once again.

The team is in the midst of a transition from an offensive to a defensive-minded team. It started in '09 when they brought Lee in, but really amplified the past two seasons. Now they need to turn their attention to the offense, jettison the aging sluggers and bring in young guys who can get on base, swipe bags, and manufacture runs. The good thing is, they might be able to do this without having to spend too much money.

Will Rube make the right moves to extend this team's window? Or will he try to resign the aging core and waste this team's great pitching yet again?

Yeah they need to be cautious of wholesale change but the Phils face a fairly stark choice this offseason - largely stick with the status quo and resign key veterans to multiyear deals (JRoll/Madson) or let them walk, gamble on making some savvy FA signings, and go 'young.'

My bet is that they a middle road between those extremes in that they resign either JRoll or Madson but not both while making several smaller FA signings.

Offseason is really going to test Amaro's acumen as a GM (and he needs a little) luck with some of the veteran FA he is likely to sign on smaller deals. He's done a great job on trades but his track record on FA signings has been mixed especially on veteran relievers. Also going to be fascinating to see if he is going to be a 'first-mover' either this offseason striking early to resign his own guys and make FA signings.

Howard's injury is a disaster any way you slice it. Best-case scenario, he comes back in the June-July next year and is moderately productive. Hard to envision that though. More likely he does play in '12 with mixed results. Longer term is the bigger concern because I can't see how he ages as well now.

Maybe his power doesn't diminish that much but hard to see how he won't be a liability in the field/on the basepaths. Really too bad the Phils can't DH him at this point going ahead forward.

Going to be fascinating to see how Brown factors in the picture because he will almost certainly be a starter next year. The question is just what kind of production/defense he can give the Phils.

Given his likely defensive limitations, they need a line better than .245/.330/.390 out of him next year. Could get by with say a line of .270/.350/.430 though if he plays shoddy defense.

Let's go back to 2008.

Five-game series, Phillies vs. Brewers. In game one, the Phils capitalized off an error by Mike Cameron and great pitching by Cole Hamels.

In game two, the Phils used an unlikely Brett Myers walk as a springboard, capping it with a grand slam by Shane Victorino, who was about to have a huge postseason. Myers pitched well enough to hand it to the bullpen, who shut it down.

In game four, the Phils used two big home runs by Pat Burrell to help win the series.

Again, you never know what can happen. An error. A walk to the pitcher. A guy going hot in the postseason. Burrell coming alive in game four. Crap. Shoot.

A dose of reality: even if the Phillies wanted to make the type of wholesale changes advocated by some posters, they couldn't do so -- or at least couldn't do so without trading guys like Utley & Ruiz for prospects who might turn out like Domonic Brown or Brandon Belt.

Among the starting 8, the only position where the Phillies have the flexibility to infuse some youth next year is shortstop. The problem is, Galvis might not be ready & may never be ready -- and even if he is as ready as he's ever going to be, it's unimaginable that his numbers in 2012 would equal Rollins' numbers in 2011. And if you're using the NLDS as a referendum on what ails the Phillies (I'm not, but some are), it would be fairly odd to bring in a rookie to replace the one everyday player who excelled in that series.

I did a blog post on the 10 best teams since 1969 not to win a World Series. One team I forgot was the 1998 Braves. I lumped the '93 Braves and Giants into the same list.

I don't follow the minor leagues as much as some others here, so what about internal options until Howard is up and running (so to speak)? Is Matt Rizzotti a viable stop-gap until Howard is 100%?

We don't have to worry because Dom Brown will hit like Pujols for the next 10 years with gold glove defense in LF

To echo Clout - does anyone think the 2008 Phillies were really the best team in the league? Do you really think they were better than the 2010 and 2011 Phillies? I don't. But they got hot at the right time.

Build a team for the postseason (as we have with our stellar pitching) and roll the dice. That's the best you can do.

MG: They managed to get by with Raul Ibanez's .245/.289/.419 line with shoddy defense. Some people on here have actually made the argument that he had a good year, which is the most amazing thing I've ever heard.

Free agent market at 1B:

Phils will probably have a better idea where Howard's rehab stands in a month but the question is do they go after a Pena/Lee at 1B this offseason.

I would be really surprised if they do for several reasons including that even a brokedown Lee will cost probably $4-5M and Pena will have a slightly higher price tag. With Pujols and Fielder available though, maybe Amaro is hoping that the FA market for 1B drops enough so that 2nd tier guys become more attractive.

I'd also like to question Tray's assumption that the Phillies are an above average offense.

They finished 7th this year out of 16, with a full season from Ryan Howard (who I may criticize, but is surely a good offensive player and key part of the lineup). I'm intrigued to hear how playing without him, this lineup projects to be above-average.

I don't think they should bring Rollins back. For a soon-to-be 33-year-old SS, he's going to cost too much. They need some financial flexibility. I'd rather they resign Madson.

They could bring in a player like Wilson Betemit to replace Rollins for super-cheap (played on a 1-yr/$1 mil contract this season). And looking at Betemit's numbers, he wouldn't be too much of a drop-off from Rollins.

Betemit (age 29)
2011: .285/.343/.452
Career: .269/.336/.448

Rollins (age 32)
2011: .268/.338/.399
Career: .272/.329/.432

The only thing missing with Betemit is the steals. But he's younger and much, much cheaper. (And as an added bonus, he can play 3B too.)

I think Dom Brown starting in LF for 2012 should outperform Ibanez this year.

P.Red: I actually like bringing in Betemit as a replacement for Polanco. His defense would be very bad at SS, a position he hasn't even played since 2008. That would be a terrible idea to make him our starting SS.

Jack - He didn't and I don't want him back period. Ibanez can play only a single position (LF) and is a liability in the field & on the basepaths.

People will make the argument that he would make a good bench player because of his power. Against a LH reliever though, he's been poor the last 2 years.

Jack: Betemit as a replacement for Polanco makes sense too, except we aren't really gaining financial flexibility with that move. Not playing a position for 3 years may make one a bit rusty, but he would have all of ST plus 162 games to work out the kinks.

I don't know, JW, I think wholesale change is coming to this squad whether or not anyone wants it.

--Howard will be out for at least the first half of the season, and who knows how he'll perform when he returns.
--Ibanez will be gone
--Oswalt will almost certainly be gone
--Its likely that either Madson or JRoll, or possibly both, will be gone as well.

Those strike me as pretty substantial changes to the makeup of this team.

reposting since it was at the end of the last thread (and it was likely the longest post i've ever written on BL):

i haven't posted since Friday's pregame as i've needed some time to gain some perspective and allow reason to trump emotion. some thoughts:

- Carpenter's curveball was filthy, and he threw it a lot. i'd like to see how often, but i didn't see any hard contact on a single curve that he threw. Phillies hitters either never adjusted to it or couldn't adjust to it.

- Charlie wasn't the reason we lost, but Mayberry not seeing the field over the final 3 games is a bizarre turn of events. he was supposed to be our lone asset coming off the bench. with such close games, it's possible that he could have made a big difference.

- choking is awfully hard to define, but i think it's pretty easy to say that the Phils hitters did just that during game 5. their at bats were poor, certainly below what they are capable of even against a top notch pitcher like Carpenter. they seemed tight as a drum, and the results were in line with how much they seemed to feel the pressure.

- some bad luck. Ibanez long fly to right leaves CBP in the summer. Utely's probably too. it's just harder to hit one out in the cooler fall air, and i wish the lineup/Charlie had made adjustments to account for that.

- no reason that the Phils cannot return to the playoffs next year. i think 100 wins is unlikely, but there is no reason beyond injuries to one of Halladay/Lee/Hamels that they shouldn't win at least 90 again. even if Howard is on the shelf for all of 2012.

- Rollins is probably gone. if we had won it all this year, i think he would be back. time to get younger and mix things up and you start at SS. Galvis is defensively ready (from what i hear, anyway) and we can live with his bat in the 8 hole. if not him, i'm sure we can find an all glove type available on the FA market or via trade.

- i have no idea what they'll do with Madson. i can't imagine that the front office will justify a $11-13 million investment in a closer.

- Oswalt/Lidge/Kendrick/Gload/Ibanez will be jettisoned. i can't imagine any scenarios in which any of them will return.

- Polanco will see plenty of action even if it is as a utility guy.

- i can see the FO making a play for a 1B as a one year rental. i can also see them using Mayberry there and giving Dom the reigns in LF. it should be interesting to see which direction they go.

- finally, it was a very dissappointing end to a great season. i really enjoyed it, and i'm still a bit shocked that they are not still playing. i really thought that the aces would carry them. the trap that many of us fell into was that this year we had 4 aces. in reality, it was no different than last year when we had 3. 4 true aces might have made a difference. even if one of them didn't come through, the other 3 should pick the one up. unfortunately, Oswalt never had the look of any ace this year. so it was Halladay/Lee/Hamels instead of Halladay/Hames/Oswalt. an upgrade, for sure, but not one that was big enough to offset silent bats.

what a shame. baseball is a cruel game.

Conshy: You think the team wins 90+ games without Howard, Rollins or Madson and Oswalt? I suppose I agree, but it's close.

I think I'd probably set the over/under at about 91 wins with that team. They'd basically be the Giants from this year, great pitching and terrible offense, and the Giants won 86 games.

Wilson Betemit is a 3rd baseman, and a below average defensive one at that. There is no way in the world he could play shortstop -- let alone play it on a full-time basis.

Defensive limitations aside, Betemit would likely be an upgrade over Polanco at 3rd base. At worst, he'd be a nice bat off the bench.

in 2012 the following are due for a scheduled pay increase:
Polanco +1m
Victorino +2m
Ruiz +1m
Lee +10m

the following are due for arbitration:

the following have an option year:
Oswalt 16m or 2m buyout
Lidge 12.5m or 1.5m buyout

Free Agents:
SS - Rollins
LF - Ibanez
PH - Gload
C - Schneider
CL - Madson

I'm not so sure that wholesale change will be driven by performance rather than lack of funds to pay everyone.

"Oswalt/Lidge/Kendrick/Gload/Ibanez will be jettisoned. i can't imagine any scenarios in which any of them will return."

I would agree with that statement if only Kendrick's name were removed. I think he'll be back, at around $3.5M per year. Blanton's a big question mark for next year, as it sounds like he's still not really healthy & it's possible he may need off-season surgery. Personally, I think Blanton may end up in the bullpen next year. RAJ has a history of signing middling or injury-prone starters & turning them into relievers. Blanton kind of fits the profile.

BAP - Kendrick went into this season as our 6th starter/long man at about $2.5 million. many questioned that logic. at another $1 million on top of that i can't see Ruben committing those kinds of dollars to Kendrick in the same role when there are many other areas of need. it's possible he's back, but i think it's less likely that they cut him loose.

Jack - i don't think 90 wins is any kind of lock. a lot of it depends on what moves the FO makes this off season, obviously. the pitching should be good enough to keep them in contention i would think.

2012 rotation: Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Worley, Blanton.

BAP - Phils aren't going to use Blanton as a reliever but I would be surprised if he doesn't have elbow surgery this offseason & now isn't ready for the start of the season.

My bet is that KK's odds of returning are better than a lot of people think. Not so much for a guy like Francisco though.

conshy: If I recall correctly, KK was actually given that $2.6M before we signed Cliff Lee. So the salary was in anticipation of his being a starter, not a long man.

Whatever questions there were at the time, Kendrick went out and had a very solid year, both as a starter & out of the pen. If the Phillies envision him as a starter next year, and they think he can pitch like he did last year, he's easily worth $3.5M. He probably wouldn't be worth that much in a relief role but, if that's what it comes to, they could always trade him.

I have a feeling Ruben's contracts are really going to blow up in his face. Polly is a mess (Have I mentioned that I wanted Beltre?), Howard is never gonna be the same and I have a feeling Lee's deal might look a like a bad deal around year 4.

or put another way, the Phils have about 110m in contractual obligations to 10 players in 2012 already. With the remaining 55m-65m they must pay/sign the remaining 15 players:
SS, RF, LF, the entire bench, 2 Starting pitchers, and most of the bullpen including the Closer.

16m to keep Oswalt.
10-12m to keep Hamels
10-15m to keep Rollins
7-10m to keep Madson
7-10m to keep Pence

We could now be 5m over last years budget with 10 players still to sign. Even if they simply bring up AAA players, they'll still need to get rid of someone via buyout or salary dump trade.

Shane: Oswalt will not be back at 16M (actually, 14M is the relevant price, because they have to pay him 2M to go away).

If you liked Polly's bat. You'll love Galvis' "bat". . . . I gotta think Galvis is 1.5-2 years away from being Adam Everett. If Betemit could play SS competantly he would be and making more money too. FA market is pretty thin outside 1b and bullpen. I could see Ruben doubling down on pitching and bringing in a pair of veteran bullpen arms. I don't see how they re-make the offense without dropping some considerable coin on a guy like Aramis Ramirez or Reyes. I think getting Rollins back is a must, and a guy like Cuddyer might be nice. really not a lot out there.

As an aside, Howard's injury is the reason you should be able to get a discount when you sign a guy early, not pay a premium, like the Phils did. That said, I hope he has a swift and full recovery and comes back better than ever.

Not sure if anyone brought this up in earlier threads after Friday night's loss, but did it seem strange to anyone else that none of Howard's teammates came out to help him get off the field? He just suffered the indignity of a terrible injury on the final out of the season and they left him laying in a heap. I thought that was strange.

The post season isn't quite the crap shoot that some of the forelorn seem to make it out to be.

Two teams still have 9 or more innings head to head in each game to settle things. These innings are developed pitch to pitch, swing to swing and throw to throw. This coin flip notion thing that is gaining steam is utter nihlist nonsense. I will agree, that it's tough to know what you'll get, but a lot of that falls squarely on the players...imagine that.

This offense, aside from owning a long term reservation into the 4077th's finest gurneys, was a tight as bow string. These guys were in danger of shattering their bats at the knob, they were so rigid in their at bats. That's not coin flip stuff, that's "getting in their own way."

Cliff Lee; no explanation there. He's had exactly three post season stinkers in a row. Very mercurial.

If your team is the consensus "better team" and you get beat by a team who played "better," isn't that what really matters?

Oswalt wont be back, Rollins wont be back...I actually see things getting ugly between Jimmy and The Phils

Yeah, I tend to be of the belief that Jimmy will be playing for a different team next year. I think he will get 4 years from a team (maybe the Giants), and the Phillies will be smart enough not to match that contract. If Jimmy is willing to do 3 years, the Phils should do it. Even better would be two years with a buyout/option 3rd year.

And to add to the last point; when we have a good team to pour our high hopes into, we expect that they will do what is necessary in the post season in order to fufill the ultimate what happened this year?

The "what" is pretty obvious. What's more elusive is the "why."

Great teams still have to be "great" in the post season. That's just how it goes.

Lee didn't have a "stinker" in his second World Series start for Texas. He had a shutout going late and allowed a home run.

FWIW, I heard Brian Sabean interviewed on the radio about 2 weeks ago. He said he does not anticipate the Giants being big players in free agency & he specifically mentioned Reyes & Rollins as two guys he didn't think they'd have the money to go after. Obviously, his comments should be taken with a grain of salt -- although it's worth noting that the Giants did just can their managing partner out of a belief that he was spending ownership's money too liberally.

I still can't get over the fact that Charlie doesn't pinch hit for either Polanco and/or Ruiz in the 8th of game 5 with the season on the line.

I have a feeling that if the Phillies did advance, having only one solid option in the bullpen was going to get exposed at some point. We need to get Bastardo and Stutes straightened out and get a true flame thrower. We have so many other issues that paying for a legit bullpen piece is not likely to happen. We are going to have to rely on our farm system for that kind of a guy (or two).

TheRhube - That's a really interesting point. The trainers/coaching staff came out but I didn't see a single teammate come out on to the field.

One guy who hasn't disappointed the last 2 years is Halladay:

5 GS, 3-2, 2.37 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 1.2 BB/9, 8.3 K/9, 7.0 K/BB

Its a damn shame if he will never get to at least play in a WS in his career which is a really strong possibility at this point.

Even if Madson doesn't resign here (50/50 at best), I would be stunned if Amaro doesn't sign a veteran FA closer (Bell, Valerde, Capps, Papelbon) given that there are several options available.

FYI, the FO did not make it easy this year for season ticket holders to get back the money we had to lay out for (all of) the playoff games. If I had not stumbled on it on the website and seen that I had "3 business days from elimination," they would have made it non-refundable and put it towards 2012 without my say-so. I think they emailed me last year with a choice. Not cool.

Keys to 2012 success w/o Rollins.

1)Short term reasonably priced FA replacement for Rollins until Galvis is ready - Furcal?

W/o Howard:

1)Mayberry or Brown reach these marks: .270av/25HR/80-90 RBIs
2)FA replacement for Howard - Cuddyer?

That or something comparable RAJ can pull out of his hat, otherwise I don't see 90+ wins next year.

I would be fine with Furcal on a 1-year deal to replace Rollins.

Marv, that was written clearly in the postseason ticket invoice, as well.

Well the good news is, since they'll no longer be the best team in baseball, they have a much better chance at winning the world series.

Hmm, thanks. I guess that I either missed it, or that it never occurred to me that we'd only host 3 games.

JW, DH Phils, clout: I think it's possible to look at a Postseason series & assess (regardless of outcome) whether or not a given team has played well. Naturally, most fans would be happy to win no matter what the relative quality of their team's play. However, I don't think there is any doubt the Phillies have been the lesser team on the field at the time of each of their last 4 Postseason series losses.

To put it another way, it would be one thing if the Phillies were playing as well as they have shown they can play in the Regular Season, but lost due to any number of factors related to the random nature of the Postseason. The sad fact is I do not believe that to be true of any of the Phillies' most recent Postseason losses, & I feel that is a view shared by many a disappointed fan. Over the past 2 Octobers, which aspects of the Phillies have shined? Outside of starting pitching, nothing. Their Offensive woes have been well documented, but we have also witnessed a multitude of uncharacteristic mental & physical errors, this season's NLDS being a particularly clear example.

Point being, it's all well & good to say the Phillies are a "better team" than the Cardinals (or Giants, etc.), but that is irrelevant when said "best team" has been consistently outplayed & outmanaged in the Postseason. Unless the Phillies brain trust are content w/ being Champions of the Regular Season, they will have to adapt to the fact that their fans -- & yes, their players, too -- are not & will not be satisfied w/ leading MLB in Regular Season wins & then going home to watch another club capture the World Series crown.

No one buys offense better than the Yankees and they came up short in the LDS too. It's probably just as hard to come up with the perfect postseason offense as it is postseason pitching staff.

You have to be able to figure out who's going to be the Ryan Theriot/Brian Doyle/Manny Trillo type every year. Good luck.

I also wondered about teammates coming out to help Howard. Vic did help; he of course would have been in the on-deck circle when Howard fell to the ground. I think the rest of the guys were in a state of shock, and the fact that they did not all rush out doesn't mean they don't care.

Does anyone think that the lessons of Werth and Lee (money doesn’t guarantee happiness, money isn’t everything) will make a difference to any of our guys who are not certain to return? Might Ryan Madsen consider his new energy-efficient house in the suburbs and his kids’ stability? Might Raul or Brad Lidge, gentlemen they both are, take almost nothing to be connected to the 2012 Phils in some small way…either off or on the field? At this point in their lives, it might be enough, if not a graceful way to exit. In the context of a long career, there must be a time when being moved yet again would take its toll on the physical and mental energy of the player and his family.

For sure those lessons stuck with Roy Oswalt, who seems poised to return full time to the land and family he loves. I’d be very surprised to see him in any uniform come spring.

Jimmy seems a bit too self-absorbed now, and unfortunately that does not seem to be the persona that the Phils embrace. Is he doing himself a disservice with his self-promotion?

In my mind, Cole Hamels remains the most under-appreciated 2011 Phillie and a new contract for him should be the first priority, even this year. In my mind, especially now knowing he was injured, he was the best pitcher of the championships. He gives a lot back to the community, seems to be a solid citizen, and always seems approachable to the media.

Indeed, to a team like the Phils, the intangibles seem to be almost as high a priority as performance (which is why Reyes would definitely not be considered.) And at least to some of us, knowing we have “good guys” for our kids to look up to has made this season all the more special (And to the cynical, even if it is all just carefully-constructed image, the team does that image well)

In terms of budget, I am sure the revenue from at least four more home playoff games(league series, world series) and related merchandise was already assumed in the financial projections. I wonder if any of that loss will be significant enough to factor into post-season decisions.

(Shane came out to help Ryan off the field. He was also the one who visited young Ryan White—if I am remembering his name correctly—in the hospital in San Francisco. Again, do these intangibles mean anything to a team and its image? In my own book, a big yes)

For the record, I'm not convinced the Phils should stand pat. They are still in a good spot to take risks and attempt to get younger through trades.

Right now is when the Cliff Lee bounty of the '09 offseason would have really helped, but instead, they scored Aumont, Gilles and Ramirez. That's the kind of trade where you'd like to nail down the future of X position.

"Well the good news is, since they'll no longer be the best team in baseball, they have a much better chance at winning the world series."

that's a great point - one well worth hanging my hat on. i feel much better now. thanks Cyclic!

Seems like Furcal is always in the playoffs, so maybe signing him to a 1 year deal is a good idea!

Do we get any compensation if Oswalt's option isn't used and he signs elsewhere?

The Mets actually scored more runs than the Phils this year! And the Mets offense is generally thought of as being weak.

Without Howard things are going to get even bleaker - and some in Phillies management and their coaching staff are doubting Domonic Brown's ability to become a regular MLB ballplayer.

For the life of me I don't know what the answers are offensively for this club. A return to form by Utley is crucial though.

JW: Absolutely agreed on the Lee deal. It's possibel Aumont could contribute next year, but no one else will.

The one thing that is simply a fact right now is that the farm system is largely barren of position players and starting pitchers. This team is getting older and more expensive, and there's no help coming from within, for the most part. So what do you do?

Let me get this straight. First, it was Ryan Howard is an albatross worth about one win above replacement.

Now that he may miss significant time, however, we'll be fortunate to win 90 games?

Let's not forget Oswalt was mostly a wash this year and never had our projected bullpen all together at once and we didn't have Utley for several weeks (and then not really at full strength thereafter) and Brown and Francisco flamed out and MiniMart and Valdez logged hundreds of at bats and Polanco suffered a serious injury and .... we won 102 games.

I don't get it. JW hose chosen three quotes to lead this thread and there is little or no mention of management's role. Odd.

I guess I should view the Phllies as just some pickup squad playing games and each of the players decides what he has to do.
If that is the way baseball is played in Philly than the debacle of the last couple of years will coninue.

Though he pitched well last year, the Oswalt experience was a bit of a letdown.

crotchbat (do i really have to type that? yuck) - it's 1.6 wins above replacement. get your facts straight!

seriously though, i highly doubt even Howard's bigger detractors really believe his comically low WAR equates to his true value on the team. WAR gives him no credit for the things he does well (HR's, clutch hitting, power presense in a lineup w/out one), but detracts heavily for all the things he does not do well (running, BA, BB's, questionable fielding).

i'd say Howard is more akin to a 4-5 win player, i don't care what Fangraphs has to say.

combine that with the loss of Rollins and some bad breaks and it could easily be a 10+ win dropoff next year.

OOPS no hosing intended. I don't get it. JW has chosen three quotes to lead this thread and there is little or no mention of management's role. Odd.

I guess I should view the Phllies as just some pickup squad playing games and each of the players decides what he has to do.
If that is the way baseball is played in Philly than the debacle of the last couple of years will continue.

The White Sox will name Mark Parent and Joe McEwing to the coaching staff of new manager Robin Ventura, a source indicated Monday.

Parent will be Ventura's bench coach and right-hand man, said the major league source with knowledge of the White Sox's thinking, while McEwing will be the third-base coach.

Yes, I thought it was strange that none of the players came out to check on Howard or help him. We did that in my long gone baseball days when someone really went down, but we were bush leaguers for sure. Probably some big time baseball "code" thing, but he was pretty badly hurt.

If Utley returns to a form resembling the prime of his career (a HUGE if), and if Mayberry continues to hit the way he did the 2nd half of this season (a somewhat reasonable assumption), and if Brown begins to more closely resemble the player he has long been projected to be (an increasingly big if in it's own right), then the offense will actually be fine next year.

Failing that, or some big offseason signing--yeah, they're gonna struggle to score runs.

Not surprised at all that Parent got a job as a bench coach at the MLB level. His value has skyrocketed the past few years as a manager.

Surprised if he isn't a manager by 2014.

JW - Your right about the Lee trade. If they had done a better job on that, they would likely have 2 contributors next season.

Instead, they likely hope to get any contributions from just Aumont. Gillies looks like a bust. Ditto JC Ramirez.

"First, it was Ryan Howard is an albatross worth about one win above replacement.

Now that he may miss significant time, however, we'll be fortunate to win 90 games?"

He's worth more than 1 win above replacement, but he can certainly be an albatross & a huge loss simultaneously. He's a huge loss because we have absolutely no one in the organization who can come close to replacing his production. But if we had, say, $20M in additional cash to spend in a free agent market which includes Fielder, Pujols, Ortiz, Beltran, and possibly Aramis Ramirez, he wouldn't be a huge loss at all. In fact, we'd be decidedly better off than we were before he went down.

Speaking of him, how's Gillies doing in the AFL?

BB - Gillies is playing for Scottsdale. They have only played a week's worth of games and Gillies has played in 2 G (3-6, 3 BBs, 1 K)

BB: His splits are .500/.700/.500 so far.

Unfortunately, the sample size is only like 12 PAs.

Thanks. Let's freeze that slash line for posterity.

I DO like Beltran in LF for us next year but I suppose he'll be too expensive and then too there's a need to establish Brown (and see if he's capable of being an everyday player) since there is a definite need to get younger.

Beltran switch hits, has a high OBP, doesn't strike out a lot, is a good defensive player.

The Braves need to improve their offense too so we are not the only ones with this problem. Chipper seems on his last legs, McCann can not carry a team, Uggla is Kingman-esque, Heyward had an awful 2nd season. They need another big bat in that line-up IMO.

Other guy I am curious to see where he lands is LaMar.

It was pretty clear he had a big difference of opinion with Amaro & that he was frustrated with being given limited funds ($3.8M and $5M respectively the last 2 years which trailed leading clubs by a factor of 3x-4x those amounts) for draft selections, Amaro raiding the prospect cupboard very hard for the Oswalt/Pence trades, and not having that many first round picks to work with.

If LaMar gets another GM job, then he is a lot more highly thought around MLB than I figured but I doubt that is the case.

Also interested to see if Proefrock stays as the replacement for LaMar or the Phils really shake things up.

@Timr: "f Utley returns to a form resembling the prime of his career (a HUGE if), and if Mayberry continues to hit the way he did the 2nd half of this season (a somewhat reasonable assumption), and if Brown begins to more closely resemble the player he has long been projected to be (an increasingly big if in it's own right), then the offense will actually be fine next year.

Failing that, or some big offseason signing--yeah, they're gonna struggle to score runs."

Anyone else think that anything even closely resembling these scenarios is pretty much a pipe dream? More likely is further regression from Utley, career norms for JMJ (which equate to a regression), and Brown struggling for a good part of the season, though he may or may not pan out.


It may have been debated in the last few days, but I needed a break from the crushing blow of the prompt ending of the season and took a few days off (only to have the Eagles further spiral me into a depression....).

But, in a hypothetical world, had Howard not been giving the early contract, he'd be due for FA this offseason. Obviously the injury would have a large impact, but if we could separate that entirely and now knowing what competitive 1B's can do and their general going rate, which direction do you think the Phils would have gone in?

- try to extend Howard now at a lower rate
- ditch Howard and turn sights toward Fielder, Pujols, or Ortiz
- shift someone else to 1B and opt to go after another "big name" (Beltran?)

Simply knowing how the FO operates, I suspect that they'd have a really hard time cutting ties with Howard, especially if it's at the same time as potentially cutting ties with Rollins. Even with a fairly stacked rotation (even with Oswalt gone), it's tough to think that the Phils would go to that length of TOTAL offensive makeover.

At any rate, I hope Howard is better quick, since the hypotheticals are just that, and he's what we have at 1B. You won't see the FO move on a legit big name 1B even if the worst case scenario presents itself. Instead, I'd see them doing something like moving JMJ there and perhaps targeting a LF in case Brown doesn't pan out.

I don't see Gillies making it to the majors with .000 isolated power in the AFL.

I think Jason Bay would be revived playing in Philly. He is owed a lot of money but the Mutts would trade him for a box of balls, and would likely pay half his salary.

OR if a 3B could be found I could see Polanco moving to 2B and Utley to 1B until Howard comes back.

A big no on the Hamels for David Wright proposal. Hamels is a young frontline pitcher who can be just that for the next 5-6 years.

Are you serious about Bay? I think he's washed up. Maybe I am wrong.

Somehow the Phils have to better handle Domonic Brown. This is a guy who was seen by every scouting/rating service as can't miss, a top 5 prospect.

This is where the loss of Howard though has a ripple effect. Had he not been injured, Brown could've been given the LF job next year and been given time to grow and struggle. But that luxury has been removed or lessened by Ryan's devastating injury.

Anyone think it's possible the Phils do pick up Oswalt's option next year and then trade him?

Frontline pitching is hard to acquire and though he's no Halliday or Lee, I could see the Yanks (or Red Sox) wanting someone like him badly. Might there be a match there for a potential trade?

Technically, you may be right about Game 5 of the 2010 World Series, but I consider giving up a three run ding dong when your team needs that game to stave off elimination as a "stinker."

That was a big time situation and for a big time pitcher, he came up small there. Worse though, was his inability to hold a 4 run lead recently.

Assuming Halladay, Lee & Hamels begin the '12 season healthy & remain so, I believe the Phillies can do absolutely nothing & remain an 88-90 win team. Honestly, aside from trying to lock up Hamels for a few more years & bringing in a new group of awful bench players to replace the previous group of awful bench players, I think that's exactly what the Phillies should do. Polanco, Blanton, Vic & Chooch all have contracts that end w/ the close of the '12 season. Better in my opinion to get a more realistic picture of what the players who are already here truly remain capable of than go for the usual big FA signing or two & distort reality w/ heightened expectations.

The pluses with Cuddyer are that he can hit, hit for power and is versatile in the field (1B, 3B and outfield). He would be a good fill-in until Howard returns and can play left field (should Brown flop) or 3B (should Polanco get hurt again). The minuses are his age (33 in 2012), defensive liabilities (plays three positions but none well), recent shoulder injuries, and price tag (11-12 Mil for three seasons plus you lose a first round draft choice). I don't see that happening with the Phillies. As I said before, the Phillies need to get younger, faster and healthier.

Get Davy Lopes back.

rty's off his meds again.

Yeah, yeah, the post-season is a crap shoot, especially the shorter series. As I've said many times, I watched the 69 and 71 Orioles of my youth lose to inferior teams so no one has to convince me. That said, the Phillies' offense that disappeared in the NLDS had disappeared several times throughout the season but the club still manged to win with pitching. I heard or read some statistic (unfortunately, I cannot retrieve the source) that noted the Phils won a large number of games scoring 3 or fewer runs. (The stat may have even said they won more games of that nature than any other club but I cannot recall the source now.)

The key is no team can expect a win when all it takes for the opposition is to plate a single run. I was not surprised the Phillies lost because apart from the first game explosion their offense was largely inept, scoring the few runs it managed in small bunches spread out over many innings.

The ineptitude can be attributed to many factors including but not limited to impatience (an overall team characteristic), injury and age (slow bats). Placido Polanco was in many ways the poster boy for these failings (except impatience). He was fouling off every other pitch to the right side, striking out more than normal and just not putting the ball in play. He was hurt and showing his age. Chase Utley's health problems need no further discussion here (though we all suspect there is always more to his health than meets the eye). What was apparent to me was the number of times Utley was lunging at the ball over the last few months, meekly popping up and (this was the key for me), not looking up as the ball left his bat, just starting out of the batters' box, head down and only then glancing up to see the flight of the ball. He looked off-balance and dejected. Once every five or six games he'd hit the ball like the Utley of old and everyone would announce he was regaining his stroke, but then his average would continue its downward spiral. The base-running blunders of the NLDS, especially the dash from first to third, were a clear indication desperation had overtaken instincts.

Howard is a proven run-producer as everyone knows, but his failure apart from game one to step up in big situations, especially but not only in the post-season must come as a huge letdown to his teammates. Forget how the fans feel, when the other 24 guys in the dugout see him walk away from the plate in disgust after having flailed away yet again at something low and away, they feel letdown, too.

Shane Victorino's late season collapse was also startling. His average must have dropped something on the order of 30 points over the last month or so. He became a near automatic out.

Everyone was falling into a funk at the same time. Is it any wonder good (not great) post-season pitching could not overcome those failings?

Now, everyone is wondering about the future and just how much change, wholesale or piecemeal, the Phils need to make. The answer is they cannot correct so many deficiencies in one post-season. They also may be faced with losing their closer and a year later Cole Hamels. They will want to commit dollars to both if possible thought Scott Boras is a major obstacle in Madson's case.

They don't know if Vance Worley is the real deal. He needs at least another turn or two around the dance floor before we know what kind of pitcher he will be in the long run. They will never sign JRoll to a long-term deal; the thought here is no one else may be willing to take a long flyer either and Jimmy will "settle" for a shorter deal here. One reason the Phils may want to sign Jimmy is for some stability. Every other infielder around him, Utley included, has issues.

Nearly everyone with the possible exception of Charlie thinks Ibanez is finished here. The only one that counts in the end is Amaro. Domonic Brown and John Mayberry may offer good solutions but we won't know until one or both play regularly. Brown could be one of those phenoms who never pans out. He sure looked like on his first two times up with the big club but we'll have to wait.

The Phils go into next season with terrific starting pitching. Everything else is unknown. Past performance will be no guarantee of future returns.

I'd like to see them learn from last year's "we'll just let Ben Fransisco take over for a top 5 outfielder" experiment and sign a legit 1B as an option to have. Best Case Scenario, Dom Brown tears it up, Mayberry is the 4th outfielder and platoons against lefties. Worse case scenario: Brown stinks it up, Mayberry is free to take over in the outfield, and you still have someone to play 1B. If they don't have that 1B, then they have to go out and get someone at the deadline ala Pence this year. If Mayberry hits well and Brown hits well and Howard comes back in say June and does well, you can trade the 1B you signed to someone else, or just have the luxury of a decent bench bat.

I'll be curious to see whether they try to lock up Vic this off-season or let him go into his walk year. Personally, I'd be inclined to let him go into his walk year and see how he does. He had a terrific overall 2011 season, but his injury issues & the lingering stink of his 2010 season are both red flags to me. I wouldn't be in a hurry to lock him up quite yet -- especially given Mayberry's ability to play CF.

Wilingham signs with the Phillies and Rollins signs with the A's.

Of course the A's don't have enough money to sign either willingham or Rollins, but I would love to see Rollins playing for his hometown team.

Willingham had a career year in both RBIs and homeruns in Oaktown this season, thought he might be a good fill in 'til Howard recovers?

rty: With pitchers like Buehrle, Kuroda, CJ Wilson, and Maholm on the FA market, why would the Yankees or RedSox pay $14M AND give up a decent player for a starting pitcher who missed 1/3 of his starts last year & posted a 105 ERA+ when he did start?

b_a_p: Agreed. Before the '11 season began I predicted the odds of Rollins, Polanco & Vic all finishing the season w/out hitting the DL at least once at something like 0.000001%, & sure enough, all 3 had been there by mid-late July. Same goes for Vic & Polanco (&, for that matter, Utley & Chooch) in '12. No need to spend now when the Phillies can wait & decide if he's still worth the money later.

There was a lot of speculation on here about Hamels' health after he returned off the DL.

Turns out he just had elbow surgery and is soon scheduled for surgery to treat his sports hernia.

He should be set for the start of the season but I have to think it is going to seriously curtail his offseason workout regimen.

MG: I don't believe Hamels had a sports hernia, but a more common kind.

Willard: oh yeah, I definitely agree that, all told, my scenarios don't seem likely. Actually, I think the least likely one is Utley returning to form. I think this is who he is now. But Mayberry could legitimately have figured it out, and give us a couple very solid seasons. And I still believe all the scouts weren't wrong about Brown.

I still think that we'll see Oswalt back for the Phils next year, just not at $16MM. I suspect they'll work out some sort of alternative that meets both of their needs. It seems as if he still wants to pitch, and if an "off of an injured season" Blanton or swingman Kendrick are your primary alternatives, I don't suppose I have anything wrong with that if it doesn't prohibit the team from spending to fill other needs.

In actuality, a sports hernia is not a hernia at all. What Hamels has (had) was an ingunial hernia, a typical hernia, I believe of the lower abdominal region. A sports hernia is merely a strain (albeit, a severe one) of the lower abdominal sheath. There is no separation in the muscle sheaths even though it may feel as such. In a typical hernia, though innards that the muscle sheaths contain eventually protrude..this is a herniatic situation.

bay_area_phan: "With pitchers like Buehrle, Kuroda, CJ Wilson, and Maholm on the FA market, why would the Yankees or RedSox pay $14M AND give up a decent player for a starting pitcher who missed 1/3 of his starts last year & posted a 105 ERA+ when he did start?

I think Oswalt still has it in him to be a better pitcher than the individuals you listed.

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EST. 2005

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