Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Phillies Offseason Review on the Eve of Spring Training

Spring training is less than two weeks away, and the Phillies have all but completed their offseason moves (some minor league roster tweaking not withstanding), and to all accounts they have finished with the third in the NLEast offseason, just as they finished third in the NL east standings. Both the Nationals and Braves made bigger splashes, the Nationals acquiring centerfielder Denard Span from the Twins (while the Phillies acquired his backup from the Twins)  and signing former Yankees closer Rafael Soriano (giving them three closer quality relievers in Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, and Soriano. The Braves acquired both B.J and Justin Upton and the Phillies acquired Delmon Young. True, the Phillies did sign the best eight inning reliever on all of baseball over the past five years in Mike Adams, a useful bullpen component in Chad Durbin, and a former batting champ at third in Michael Young. Still, on paper, things look bleak. No addition to their roster is likely to bolster the Phillies on base percentage, all the additions are free swingers, meaning the Phillies will likely continue their trend of scoring 10 runs one game, then 1 or less the next two.

What they did maintain is payroll flexibility, if things break correctly, they should have the cash available to make a difference making acquisition at the trade deadline, and if things go poorly, they won’t be stuck with long term contracts for unproductive players.  So they Phillies season breaks down to what it always has, the health and performance of their aging superstars: Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, Jimmy Rollins, along with in their prime stars Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon. These guys must remain healthy and perform as a semblance of their normal selves for the Phillies will contend.  If not, the Phillies can begin to shed these movable contracts to build for the future.

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