The 2012 Phillies were plagued by injuries, a disastrous adolescent prom-night jitters bullpen and an uncharacteristic lack of virility in the power department. Where was the team that captured our hearts in recent years – blasting home run after home run – mounting monumental uncalled-for comebacks?
This is how the team can be “fixed”. Not to make a perfect lineup which doubles teammates home all day, but to restore the sense of fear our lineup once inspired in an opposing pitcher. Anyone can beat you. For those wishing that this team will ever come close to a .300 mark should keep rubbing their lucky penny. The position additions available (or on the table thus far) in the 2012 Free Agent class leave much to be desired for. The only consistent .300 (or near) hitter at a need position is Josh Hamilton. It may take Jesus buying a home in Bryn Mawr to drop his asking price to make a move to Philadelphia plausible. So how can you make this team more competative while embracing its inherent flaws – when you have committed a small fortune to a starting rotation and aging stars?
This plan brings 6 quality players to the team – who are capable of making an immediate impact for just about a $38 million investment for 2013 – or roughly $9 million more than ARod alone will make in 2013. Strikeouts will go up (which seems hard after posting 1,094 last season) – but so will the home runs , stolen bases, extra-base hits, runs, RBI and overall lineup balance – and subsequently, wins. With reasonable estimates this lineup should produce 209 HR or better over a full, healthy season – providing 20+ HR potential from every spot in the order. This production would launch the Phillies from 18th overall in HR in MLB (2012) to at least 4th overall in MLB. A great deal of a Phillies resurgence is predicated upon Dominic Brown developing a more consistent presence in the box and in the field. As well, Darin Ruf needs time to explore his potential in 2013, most likely frustrating many times but also amazing us in other moments. After all, he did break Ryan Howard’s Minor League single-season HR record. He deserves a chance.
With a little bit of luck, this should be a much more entertaining team to watch – and will win more games.
95 W – 67 L
1. Jimmy Rollins (SS) (S)
2. B.J. Upton (CF) (R)
3. Chase Utley (2B) (L)
4. Ryan Howard (1B) (L)
5. Mark Reynolds (3B) (R)
6. Carlos Ruiz (C) (R)
7. Darin Ruf (LF) (R)
8. Domonic Brown (RF) (L)
Juan Pierre (OF) (L)
Wilson Betemit (3B/IF) (R)
Freddy Galvis (INF) (S)
Kevin Frandsen (INF) (R)
John Mayberry Jr. (OF) (R)
Eric Kratz (C) (R)
Jonny Gomes (OF) (R)
1. Roy Halladay (R)
2. Cole Hamels (L)
3. Cliff Lee (L)
4. Derek Lowe (R)
5. Vance Worley (R)
Phillipe Aumont (R)
Kyle Kendrick (R)
Antonio Bastardo (L)
Sean Burnett (L)
Jonathan Papelbon (R)
B.J. Upton (CF) (2012 Salary – $8 million)
The Upton brothers have seemingly been forever riddled regarding reaching their “full potential”. At this point it may be a case of what you see is what you get. What you get with B.J. Upton is a 28 year old Gold Glove outfielder with a tremendous power/speed combination. He has posted 30+ stolen bases in each of the past 5 years and averaged roughly 20 HR’s and 32 doubles in each of the past 6 – mind you, playing in the cavern that is Tropicana Field. A move to a hitter-friendly ball park with a short porch in left and right fields should produce a meaningful spike in HR’s, doubles and triples. The Phillies need defense in the outfield, extra-base hits, power and a boost in speed – all of which Upton can provide immediately. We would simply have to live with his 160 strikeouts per year. A four-year $53 million deal should be enough to bring him to Philly. Considering his multi-tool benefit to the team, an average salary of $13.25 million per year would be a cost-effective steal for the Phillies. Plus, he bats right-handed.
Rose-colored 2013 Line
.268 AVG / 89 R / 39 2B / 6 3B / 33 HR / 83 RBI / 39 SB
Mark Reynolds (3B/1B) (2012 Salary – $7.5 million)
Mark Reynolds, aka Casey at the Bat. While not a free agent (yet), the Orioles have declined his 2013 contract option. A new contract could be offered, but even so, he could be a low-cost trade option if he doesn’t make it to the market. Reynolds can put up scary numbers – unfortunately in both directions. He is averaging 213 strikeouts over the last 6 years (although down to 159 in 2012) and only able to muster a meager .235 AVG over that span. The last time he played 3B over a full season (2011) he registered 26 errors at the position. Surely there are better options for a team looking to contend for a World Series? Not really. Unless Kevin Youklis (34yo at $12.25m), Scott Rolen (38yo at $6.5m), Placido Polanco (37yo at $6.25m) or Brandon Inge (36yo at $5.5m) are attractive options for an everyday position player. What Reynolds lacks in his ability to consistently hit the ball he makes up with when he hits it. Averaging 28 doubles per year, 34 HR, 95 RBI and 90 runs. From 2008-2012 his HR totals have been respectively: 28 / 44 / 32 / 37 / 23. Coming off a down year, in a Baltimore lineup already with too many strikeouts he will be a tremendously cost-effective signing with high-reward potential. Hitting at Citizens Bank Park, with greater protection in the lineup, he could easily reach 40 home runs again in 2013 in Philadelphia. At 29 years old, a 3-year $27 million contract ($9m per year) should be plenty to obtain him. Plus, he bats right-handed in the middle of the order.
Rose-colored 2013 Line
.258 AVG / 85 R / 31 2B / 1 3B / 39 HR / 103 RBI / 2 SB
Derek Lowe (SP) (2012 Salary – $15 million)
A veteran pitcher who even at 39 yo pitched over 141 innings in 2012. He hasn’t pitched less than 140 since 2002. The benefit of Lowe is his ability to not allow home runs in a very dangerous hitters park. For instance, Cliff Lee allowed 26 HR in 2012. Derek Lowe has only allowed 34 in the past 3 years combined. In 2012 he averaged only 0.7 HRA per 9 innings. While he is not the often dominant Lowe of years past, he would be a tremendous #4 pitcher in a strong rotation. If worse comes to worse and the rotation experiment fails, you have an experienced pitcher for the bullpen who can get ground balls and force double plays late in close games. Given his age and declining ability, his price tag should come down into the $8-$10 million per year range. While a bit costly if he ends up in the bullpen, it sorely needs some grit and proven experience.
Rose-colored 2013 Line
13 W / 9 L / 4.01 ERA / 50 BB / 118 K
Sean Burnett (RP)
Burnett is the “must-have” pitcher for the Phillies this off-season. Once an up-and-coming “ace” for the Pirates rotation, Burnett has discovered his stride in relief. A solid, 30 year old left-handed setup-man for the bullpen. During his last 3 years in Washington he has respectively posted an ERA of 2.14 / 3.81 / 2.38 – averaging 9.1 strikeouts over 9 innings in 2012. He doesn’t give up home runs either (0.6 over 9 innings in 2012). He only made $2.3 million in 2012 and has elected for free-agency. Needless to say, his asking price will go up, but $9.6 million over 3 years (or $3.2 per year) should suffice. In 2012 the Phillies pitching posted a collective 5.34 ERA in the 8th inning. The bullpen desperately needs this consistent presence available for the 8th (and possibly 7th) innings. In 2012 Burnett was 4th in MLB in “Holds”.
Rose-colored 2013 Line
3 W / 2 L / 2.99 ERA / 18 BB / 51 K
Wilson Betemit (3B/IF) (2012 Salary – $1 million)
A consistent veteran utility man with strong fielding. Only 58 errors at 3B in 9 seasons. A $1.5 million contract should be enough coupled with a trade of Michael Martinez to Baltimore. Plus, he is a switch-hitter off the bench with a little pop.
Juan Pierre (OF) (2012 Salary – $800k)
A consistent veteran hitter with speed, tremendous plate discipline and costs next to nothing to retain. If Ruf or Brown show growing pains in the outfield, Pierre can step in to stop the bleeding. Plus, he is a left-handed hitter off the bench who can change the dynamic of any inning with his speed.
Jonny Gomes (OF) (2012 Salary – $1 million)
A cost-effective bench player and serviceable outfielder, providing power a la “Matt Stairs”. Over 10 years Gomes averages 25 home runs a season.