Now that he World Series has ended and Phillies fans were treated to the sight of Hunter Pence celebrating a World championship (I sight we surely would have rather witnessed last year), the question turns to what should the Phillies due to insure they are not on the outside looking in during next year’s playoffs? This is a difficult question to answer. Today we will look at the infield, future posts will address the outfield and the pitching staff.
Essentially, they are locked in on 4/5 of their infield (if you include catcher), and none of their outfield. Utley and Howard, due their injury history and the size of their contacts are untradeable, Ruiz was their MVP this year, both offensively and through his value to the pitching staff. Rollins, despite a decline from his MVP years , is still one of the top shortstops in the majors. Realistically, who could the Phillies acquire that would be better? (I’d love to get Troy Tulowittzki from the Rockies, but I just don’t see it happening.) Third base is the obvious area for improvement where Placido Polanco’s option will not be picked up and he will not be back. However, the best available free agent, Kevin Youkilis of the Chicago White Sox, is aging, injury prone, and has had declining production over the last several years. Trade possibilities include Chase Headley of the Padres, a good to very good player, but one who will be expensive to acquire in a seller’s market and Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals, an intriguing offensive talent who would provide questionable defense. The team could make due with Kevin Frandsen, who performed well over the last two months, or Freddy Galvis who has displayed a superior glove (if little offense) at two different positions. They have a solid prospect in the minors Cody Asche, who played well at Single A Clearwater and Double A Reading, but he is not quite ready for Prime Time.
It won’t make the splash that the Phillies typically have in the offseason while Ruben Amaro has been GM, but that course of action is exactly what I would recommend. Give Frandsen and Galvis the chance to prove their worth while developing Asche in the minors and don’t overspend on marginal upgrades in talent when potentially sound, and inexpensive alternatives exist within the organization. Keep the money in reserve so a big move can be made at the trade deadline when the teams needs are more sharply in focus. Third base may not be their biggest area of need.