Philadelphia Phillies: Has Ruben Amaro Jr. Traded Away Too Much Pitching Depth?

September 28, 2013 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

"You can never have too much pitching."

Let's take a trip down memory lane, shall we?

The aforementioned old adage is well-known to be a favorite of Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.

It rang true come playoff time in 2009, 2010 and especially 2011, when the Phillies rotation was headed by Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt. Throw then-solid fifth starter Vance Worley into the mix and you've got a starting rotation that pitched to a 2.86 ERA in the regular season, best in the majors that year.

As Phillies fans and the baseball world have come to know, the rotation monster known colloquially as the Four Aces didn't matter come the NLDS against the eventual champions, the St. Louis Cardinals.

With a Phillies offense that could barely hold its own despite the team having the majors' best record at 102-60, the City of Brotherly Love saw what would be its baseball team's most recent postseason appearance come to an untimely close.

And let's not forget Ryan Howard tearing his Achilles tendon on the final play.

In the playoffs, the pitching was as much to blame as the offense. Although the offense provided minimal run support in those crucial games, there were a couple instances when the rotation was at fault.

Lee couldn't hold a 4-0 lead. Oswalt blew up and blamed a squirrel. And from the Cardinals' standpoint, the pitching was to be credited for its successes, as Chris Carpenter tossed a complete-game shutout on short rest in the decisive Game 5.

Fast-forward to present day. The Phillies are wrapping up the 2013 season, which will likely end with them placed fourth in the NL East and with their first losing record since 2002. This follows a 2012 season in which the team, coming off five consecutive NL East titles, finished the season at .500, going 81-81 and not even winning one of two Wild Card spots, let alone the division.

Even though the last two seasons have shown decline for the Phillies, the root of it comes from different aspects of the team.

In 2012, cornerstones Chase Utley and Howard missed more than half the season. The indestructible Halladay finally showed that he was human, landing on the disabled list for roughly two months due to a shoulder ailment. The offense was anemic, and it was most notable in Cliff Lee's win-loss record, which stood at a jaw-dropping 6-9 despite his good numbers overall. 

But in 2013, the dynamic was different.

Sure, the offense wasn't spectacular behind Utley and breakout All-Star Domonic Brown, but it held its own enough of the time. No, the problem was the unexpected: the starting rotation and bullpen. In short, the pitching.

"You can never have too much pitching."

This was most definitely true in 2013. In the first half of the season, Opening Day starter Hamels struggled to gain control of his pitches and his head. He will have a losing record at the end of the season in spite of a fantastic second half. Lee's record on the season is 14-8, with one of the many losses a 1-0 tough-luck defeat against Kris Medlen and the Atlanta Braves on September 27.

Baseball isn't always fair. Ask Lee after 2012, and ask the 8-14 Hamels of 2013, if they think that their records reflect their performance. Lee's 3.16 ERA and Hamels' 3.60 ERA show just how good they were in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Shave down the latter's ERA to after the All-Star Break and you have a 2.97 figure.

What's more are the injuries and maladies that afflicted the Phillies throughout 2013.

Due to the continued shoulder woes of Halladay, Kyle Kendrick's season-ending shutdown and rookie Jonathan Pettibone's shoulder inflammation, 10 pitchers started at least one game for the Phillies this year.

Add in the oft-injured bullpen headlined by offseason signee Mike Adams as well as suspended Antonio Bastardo, and you have a total of 25 pitchers on the season in addition to two position players pitching in relief. 

Twenty-five pitchers. That alone makes up a season's active roster.

"You can never have too much pitching."

No, I suppose you can't. That's been evidenced by the 27 players who have set foot on the mound this year in a Phillies uniform. But does pitching mean good pitching?

Since Amaro took over the reins as Phillies GM following the 2008 World Series win, he's made a plethora of trades in an effort to boost the major league team.

In 2009, he dealt four prospects, including two pitchers, to the Cleveland Indians for Lee, a deal that paid off for the Phillies. Amaro then proceeded to deal Lee to the Seattle Mariners for three prospects—two of them pitching prospects—whilst trading away another three prospects, bona fide pitching prospect Kyle Drabek and superstar catching prospect Travis d'Arnaud, to the Toronto Blue Jays for Halladay.

In 2010, due to the void left by trading Lee, Amaro traded away 2009 NL Rookie of the Year runner-up J.A. Happ and two prospects to the Houston Astros for Oswalt. And in the offseason, Amaro notably re-signed Lee, bringing back the pitcher the fans so loved and vindicating himself for dealing Lee in the first place.

Or so it seemed.

2011 saw the Phillies trade away four prospects, including pitching prospect Jarred Cosart, for Astros right fielder Hunter Pence. And 2012 saw pinch-hitter Jim Thome, center fielder Shane Victorino, starting pitcher Joe Blanton and Pence traded for reliever Josh Lindblom and, otherwise, prospects.

Finally, the 2012 offseason saw Amaro trade Worley and pitching prospect Trevor May to the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Ben Revere, and deal another two pitchers, including Lindblom, for Texas Rangers third baseman Michael Young.

Have you noticed a trend here?

I've tried to emphasize the amount of pitching dealt by Amaro to make these trades, many of which had minimal impact and others that ultimately didn't result in any World Series runs, Lee in 2009 aside.

The list of Phillies pitchers and pitching prospects traded away in these deals is seemingly endless. Carlos Carrasco and Jason Knapp. Drabek. Happ. Cosart and Josh Zeid. Blanton. Worley and May. Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla. And in minor player swaps, Julio Rodriguez and Michael Schwimer.

It's also worth mentioning the pitching names the Phillies received in return over the years. Jack Taschner. Phillippe Aumont and J.C. Ramirez. Jeremy Horst. Kyle Simon. Seth Rosin. Lindblom, Ethan Martin and Ryan O'Sullivan. Frank Gailey. Rob Rasmussen and Nefi Ogando in August of this year. And that's it.

"You can never have too much pitching."

Funny how much shorter the second list is compared to the first, isn't it? Amaro has traded away 14 pitchers in major deals throughout his tenure compared to acquiring just 12. One, Lindblom, isn't even with the Phillies anymore. And Aumont could be on his way out soon as well.

The trades have worked out well for the Phillies in some instances and not so well in others.

Players like May, Rodriguez and Bonilla have yet to make the majors. Schwimer has yet to resurface in the bigs. Happ, Drabek, Carrasco and Knapp have dealt with injury, Knapp to the point that the Indians released him. Blanton was far from great as a Los Angeles Dodger. Worley struggled upon his trade and has been stashed in the minors for most of the year.

However, Happ—aside from being hit in the head by a comebacker earlier this year—has shown mild success after being traded from Houston to Toronto. Cosart has started off his career with a bang, and Zeid has made it to the majors as well. May has struggled in the minors this year but is still in the Twins' future plans. And Carrasco and Drabek, despite injuries, have rehabbed or are in the process of doing so.

Meanwhile, the Phillies' acquisitions have primarily fizzled.

Taschner was awful. Aumont and Ramirez have failed to establish themselves. Horst was good for a stretch but has since struggled or been injured. Martin is still a question mark. And Simon, Rosin, O'Sullivan, Gailey, Rasmussen and Ogando have yet to make the majors. Many of them never will.

While the trades the Phillies have made have their successes and failures, it's worth noting that their acquisitions in these deals have been far worse than the talent traded away.

"You can never have too much pitching."

In 2013, the starting rotation suffered. When John Lannan got hurt, there was a contingency plan in Jonathan Pettibone. When Halladay got hurt, Lannan returned and Martin burst onto the scene. When Pettibone got hurt and Martin had to be moved to the bullpen, Tyler Cloyd and Zach Miner stepped up. And both of them have struggled.

The bullpen also dealt with its fair share of injuries and issues. Adams dealt with various bicep and shoulder problems. Horst and Michael Stutes were also hurt, and Chad Durbin was terrible and subsequently released. Bastardo was involved in Biogenesis and suspended for 50 games. Aumont likely lost favor within the organization after command problems and a hissy fit of sorts upon being demoted. 

The bullpen replacements were mediocre at best, save for a few like Jake Diekman, Justin De Fratus and B.J. Rosenberg of late. The others, like Cesar Jimenez, Luis Garcia, J.C. Ramirez, Joe Savery, Raul Valdes, Miner and potentially Mauricio Robles, wouldn't even be major leaguers on other teams.

My point is this: The Phillies have a ton of pitching. That's not a bad thing.

But the quality of the pitching they have? Pathetic. Abominable. Abhorrent. Atrocious. 

What was once considered an unstoppable rotation behind the Four Aces and Blanton, then Worley, is a distant memory. Now, all that's left are deep scars in what was once a stockpiled organization in both the majors and minors.

The Phillies will have to see players like Cosart and Happ succeed elsewhere as a result of trades later rendered obsolete and unnecessary. It's still too early to rule out successes from Carrasco and Drabek, at least in some capacity. Zeid could be a decent bullpen option for the Astros, while May will likely make the majors and thrive in some role.

Other teams aren't having trouble sleeping at night from their side of trades with the Phillies.

Halladay netted the Blue Jays Drabek and d'Arnaud, the latter of whom later turned into R.A. Dickey. Lee gave Seattle Justin Smoak in a later trade. Revere gave the Twins much-needed pitching depth, even if it's still a work in progress. 

But the big problem here is the Phillies' lack of pitching depth.

When you realize that the Phillies had to rely on a pitcher who can't top 90 miles per hour in Cloyd and a journeyman in Miner as consistent starting pitcher options, even for a short time, you know that the team is in trouble. And if the Phillies haven't realized it yet, they will.

Yes, you could argue that some of the Phillies' pitchers traded elsewhere haven't done well since their trades. But that point's irrelevant when you realize that they were good as Phillies, and nothing suggests that they would have necessarily flopped if not traded away.

Carrasco was the team's top prospect when traded and Knapp was a top 10 guy. Drabek was a No. 1 as well at the time of his trade. Happ had been good in a Phillies uniform, as was Worley. And Cosart and May were on the fast track to be key contributors for the Phillies, most likely now or in the near future.

Instead, the Phillies have to make some additional moves this offseason to patch up a leaky rotation and bullpen.

In brief, these guys were successful as Phillies and, in the case of prospects, likely would have been had they remained with the organization.

The thing with trades is that players and prospects are appealing but never guaranteed successes. Other teams learned that with Happ when he was an Astro and Worley with the Twins.

However, what the Phillies ignored is that they had two talented rotation arms. They would have had more with Cosart and May. But they don't, so now the Phillies have to be even more creative to fix a broken team and farm system.

I'm not saying the Phillies shouldn't have made the trades they did. At the time, the trades for Lee, Halladay, Oswalt, Pence and Revere were justified. In the case of the first four names, the Phillies were a piece away from being serious World Series contenders, and the Phillies did make the playoffs with each of them in tow. With Revere, the Phillies needed a center fielder, and they got a young, controllable, solid option.

But shouldn't the Phillies have considered not trading away pitching in most, if not all, of these deals without replenishing the team and farm system with equivalent talent?

It's not the trades that hurt. It's the fact that the Phillies have no Commissioner's Trophies to show for them, nor any imminent minor league top prospect call-ups.

"You can never have too much pitching."

Ruben Amaro Jr., I do not criticize you for making the trades you did. But I do hold you accountable for hypocritically sacrificing much-needed pitching depth in order to facilitate them without the end results paying necessary dividends. There have not been any more World Series titles, and there are not any reliable internal options for the rotation and bullpen.

And you are to blame for that.

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5 Players Philadelphia Phillies Can Sign If They Let Roy Halladay Walk

September 27, 2013 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

For the Philadelphia Phillies, a tough decision awaits on the fate of former ace Roy Halladay. As most Phillies and baseball fans know, Halladay was the best pitcher in the National League as recently as two years ago and arguably the best in the majors, both then and for a few years before that.

However, Halladay has perhaps taken one of the biggest falls from grace in the one of the shortest amounts of time of anyone in recent baseball history. Going from an ace to throwing the shortest start of his career back in his final start of the season on September 23, which lasted for just 16 pitches according to Walter Villa of MCall.com. On the season, Halladay made just 13 starts due to his shoulder injury and surgery, culminating in an unsightly 6.82 ERA.

There has been little to no precedent for such circumstances in which an ace hitting free agency isn't just an ace, but a question mark entirely. For all we know, Halladay could be back—Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. admitted that he might bring Halladay back in 2014, according to Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News.

In the event that he doesn't, though, here are five other players who the Phillies could sign if they do in fact let Doc Halladay walk this coming offseason.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

When Can We Realistically Expect the Phillies to Contend for a Title Again?

September 24, 2013 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

The answer to when the Phillies will contend again is entirely dependent on how the team's ownership will respond to the dry rot that consumed the last two seasons.

There are basically two ways this can go.

The first and less likely path would be to put the checkbook away for the foreseeable future and hope that the $110 million already promised to six players (Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon and Jimmy Rollins) will pay bigger dividends in a new year.

The primary problem with this strategy is that the Phillies already tried it in 2012 and 2013 with minimal success.

If the Phillies were my client (wouldn't that be a sweet gig) I would advise them not to repeat their dismal recent history by exclusively trying to fill the gaping holes around their old, expensive pieces with young, cheap ones.

Look at the Phillies roster. Beyond the aforementioned six players, who are all almost certainly coming back, one of the highest-paid Phillies might never pitch again:

The next guy after him will make $7 million next season whether his elbow allows him to pitch or not. And Carlos Ruiz may in fact be back in Philadelphia next year, but the Phillies will probably not need to pay him $5 million to convince him to stay.

The point here is that the Phillies roster, as currently constructed, is a stark dichotomy of haves and have-nots.

Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf, Cody Asche and Ben Revere will essentially make meal money for the 2014 Phillies; barring a big free agent signing or two, all four of them factor prominently in next season's plans.

As stated above, though, that plan of new-found frugality is just not working.

So the Phillies are going to have go the way of the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers and other similarly situated clubs and try to spend their way out of this quagmire of mediocrity.

This is especially so since, even with a terrific Fan Appreciation Day crowd of 44,398, the Phillies barely sneaked past three million in attendance in 2013.

That is no disgrace, but it is more than half a million shy of 2012's attendance and more than 650,000 fewer than came through the gates in 2011 (attendance links per baseball-reference.com.)

While the attendance figures dwindle, the Phillies are coincidentally trying to leverage competing networks' interest in their television rights which are up for bidding starting with the 2016 season.

Thus, now is not the time for an overhaul. Television rights to a rebuilding club do not project to have the same lustre as would the same rights to a winning team.

Ideally, of course, the Phillies would do things the way the St. Louis Cardinals, Atlanta Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates (yeah, I said it) and other fiscally prudent teams have: by consistently drafting good players and developing them into, at worst, competent major league players and, at best, All-Stars.

It's a little late for that, though. The Phillies allegedly strip-mined their farm system in the trades that brought back players like Hunter Pence, Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay.

But they have not exactly been haunted by any of the players who left town in any of those deals, which suggests that except maybe for Jarred Cosart none of those prospects were much use anyway.

And except for Brown, the only thing the Phillies have developed the past few years is a tendency to implode.

Given the foregoing, then, you can realistically expect the Phillies to make some aggressive trades and expensive free-agent signings this offseason.

Neither the Braves nor the Washington Nationals have the look of a dynastic force, and with two wild cards in play now you don't even have to be all that good to get into the playoffs.

Which, as the the 2011 Cardinals can attest, is really all you need to do

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Fan Appreciation Day at Citizens Bank Park Feels More Like “Closing Time”

September 22, 2013 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

"Closing time/Open all the doors and let you out into the world."

By great planning or dumb luck, the Philadelphia Phillies had Cliff Lee set to take the ball for Fan Appreciation Day (Sep. 22), otherwise known as the last home game of the 2013 season.

Lee is the Phillies' best pitcher and, based on his last outing, probably one of the five or six best hitters on the team as it is presently constituted.

The Phillies were also set to take the field in glorious, first-day-of-fall weather with bright blue skies and temperatures just creeping up toward 70 degrees without ever getting there. The Phillies could not have drawn up the setting for Fan Appreciation Day any better.

They even got the local sports stage to themselves, since the Philadelphia Eagles, who normally steal fall Sundays from the Phils, already played (and lost) earlier in the week.

It is difficult to imagine a more stark contrast in fan experience from what Phillies fans were treated to at Citizens Bank Park the night before.

After granting deposed manager Charlie Manuel one last hurrah (albeit in absentia), the locals were treated to five-plus innings of Tyler Cloyd getting touched up (again) followed by a long rain delay and then the game mercifully being called:

So for the second consecutive season, the Phillies will be closing Citizens Bank Park in September, at least a week or two earlier than anyone hoped. And for the first time since 2002, they will bring the curtain down on a losing season.

"Closing time/Time for you to go out to the places you will be from."

When the Phillies re-signed Chase Utley, they confirmed that there is no full roster purge in the offing. Lee, Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and Jimmy Rollins are all likely to be back, as is Jonathan Papelbon. Domonic Brown made the All-Star team on the back of a great month, so he'll be back.

But it is hard to imagine Roy Halladay returning, because the Phillies will probably want him to take a deep pay cut and some other team is likely to pay him more.

John Mayberry Jr. is eligible for arbitration, but the Phillies would be wise to let him and his .226 average go. Same with Kevin Frandsen (.230.) And Erik Kratz will almost certainly be asked to take his turkey bacon and leave.

The Phillies pitching staff is such a mess that only John Lannan seems an obvious candidate not to return.

The Phillies will probably have more pitchers in camp than most college football teams dress on game day, hoping that some of their underachieving arms (Jeremy Horst, Justin De Fratus, Phillippe Aumont) might have "found something" in the offseason.

The only real certainty for the Phillies right now is that the glorious 2007-2011 era of five straight National League Eastern Division titles, two pennants and a World Series crown is finished.

Maybe the Phillies can redirect some of the money they wasted this season on Halladay and Michael Young (about $25 million) into the free-agent market and give their fanbase a reason or two to renew their season ticket plans.

But to contend next year, the 2014 Phillies will have to overcome the awful truth of their relatively rapid descent from being the only team to win more than 100 games in 2011 to being a sub-.500 club now.

"Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

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Philadelphia Phillies: Grading Ruben Amaro Jr.’s Performance in 2013

September 20, 2013 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

With the Philadelphia Phillies' 2013 season mercifully winding down, different questions and conversations aside from the performances of players start to arise—most concerning the offseason ahead. Is Ryne Sandberg going to stick around as manager? Will the Phillies make any big moves this offseason? Do the Phillies have a shot at contending in 2014 with the roster they have right now?

Some of those questions can be answered more easily than others. However, there is a question that's just as important as the rest, yet it involves a reflection of what has happened already:

How has Ruben Amaro Jr. done as general manager of the Phillies in 2013?

While the average Phillies fan would likely want to jump to the conclusion of "horribly," there are many aspects by which Amaro's performance can be examined. Have his offseason contracts worked out in the Phillies' favor? Did he make any trades at the deadline, and if so, did they benefit the Phillies? Has he handled prospect promotions accordingly and maintained a competitive team throughout the process?

Those questions will all be answered in this slideshow. And since Amaro won't be fired this offseason, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it's worthwhile to determine whether or not Amaro's decisions in 2013 will carry over into 2014. 

Without further ado, it's time to slap a grade on Amaro for the 2013 season.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Ranking Philadelphia Phillies’ Top 10 Prospects After 2013 Minor League Season

September 19, 2013 by Joe Giglio  
Filed under Fan News

It has been a year of transition for the Philadelphia Phillies. For a franchise that made the postseason every year from 2007 through 2011, the 81-81 finish of 2012 was expected to be aberration, but instead, foreshadowed a difficult 2013.

Ryan Howard had another lost season to injury, legendary skipper Charlie Manuel was let go and Roy Halladay became a shell of the future Hall of Fame pitcher he was during his first two years in Philadelphia.

With a new manager, Ryne Sandberg, auditioning for a full-time role in 2014, the franchise will try to get younger but still stay competitive in the National League East.

If they can continue to get big production out of aging stars like Cliff Lee and Chase Utley, along with the underrated Cole Hamels, the farm system could breathe new life into a franchise likely in the midst of its first losing season since 2002.

When Philadelphia turns things back in the winning direction, many of the following names could play major roles.

Without further ado, a ranking of the Philadelphia Phillies' Top 10 prospects.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia Phillies: 5 Players Who Did the Unexpected in 2013

September 17, 2013 by Marilee Gallagher  
Filed under Fan News

It has been a year of ups and, more accurately, downs for the Philadelphia Phillies, but all was not lost. And even though it isn't much, late season heroics and surprises have revealed the proverbial silver lining from the 2013 season.

The surprise and, in most cases, unexpected performances—some good, some bad—have told part of the story from this season. And whether it was Chase Utley's knees holding up for the majority of the year or Domonic Brown's potential finally realized, the team has seen its fair share of surprises.

So in no particular order, here are the top five guys that each did something this season that no one really could have ever expected. But if you were one of the ones who "knew it" all along, congratulations. Take pride in being in the minority and feel free to tell the rest of the world, "I told you so," in the comments.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

Why Philadelphia Phillies Fans Should Expect Big Changes This Offseason

September 17, 2013 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies fans should expect big changes this offseason, because the National League East's overall mediocrity demands them.

The Atlanta Braves are going to win the NL East with well over 90 wins—they have an outside shot at 100—but the Braves have a few of the disconcerting hallmarks of past "good teams" that have crashed and burned in the playoffs.

Above all, the Braves' terrible propensity to strike out portends trouble in the postseason. Right now the Braves are second in the National League in team batting strikeouts, behind only the lowly New York Mets.

As the 2012 Washington Nationals (third in NL team batting strikeouts in 2012) found out, all the easy runs that come against bad teams in the regular season are nowhere to be found in October.

So when the Nationals could only scratch out 10 runs in the first four games of their 2012 NLDS with the St. Louis Cardinals, they left the door ajar. Every Phillies fan knows what the Cardinals do when that happens.

Maybe the Braves will win the World Series, but with the Phillies already eliminated from playoff contention, their focus has to be on 2014 and beyond.

Neither the Mets nor the Miami Marlins project to be in positions to contend for the NL East crown in 2014. Though the Nationals are making a nice run to the finish line in 2013, it is very likely going to be too little too late for them.

This season should prove conclusively that the Nationals made a mistake in sitting Stephen Strasburg for the 2012 playoffs.

No playoff berth is ever a given, and despite their forward-thinking choice to sit their best starter for the playoffs, the Nationals are still often hostages of Strasburg's elbow and Bryce Harper's hip.

Even if you want to concede the 2014 NL East to the Braves, then, there should be opportunities for the Phillies to accumulate enough wins to make the race close and in so doing get into the annual wild-card derby.

As presently constructed, the Phillies cannot possibly believe they will make a playoff run in 2014. The 2013 Phillies have been irrelevant since mid-August.

But after the 2013 season, the contracts of Roy Halladay and Carlos Ruiz will have concluded, freeing up $25 million in salary.

Assuming third baseman Cody Asche returns, the Phillies will be paying their third baseman something near the league minimum rather than the $5 million they paid for five months of Michael Young.

The Phillies can reasonably expect to fill at least two of the gaping holes in their roster—maybe even three—with that sort of cash on hand.

They are also unlikely to cry poor and refuse to spend this offseason, given the television-rights windfall they are about to fall into.

Chase Utley's recent contract extension means that the Phillies are out of the Robinson Cano bidding, but there are other worthy players likely heading to free agency this winter.

Right-hander Ervin Santana has rediscovered his form after a spotty 2012. Santana's 9-9 record with the suddenly contending Kansas City Royals is misleading; his 3.23 earned run average and 1.14 WHIP are not.

Santana would slot in nicely between the Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels in the Phillies rotation.

And while Darin Ruf has acquitted himself nicely in the outfield, the Phillies may consider an upgrade there with players like Shin-Soo Choo, Hunter Pence and Nelson Cruz on the market.

Besides, the Phillies might need Ruf to play first base against left-handers while $25 million platoon player Ryan Howard sits.

Ultimately, Phillies fans should expect big changes this offseason, because the .500 finish of the 2012 Phillies concealed the major flaws in the team that 2013 exposed.

An unproductive offseason would threaten the Phillies in the standings, but it would do worse things to them where it hurts more.

At the gate.

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6 Early Predictions for Philadelphia Phillies’ 2013 Offseason

September 13, 2013 by Alec Snyder  
Filed under Fan News

The 2013 season has been a lost cause for the Philadelphia Phillies. Sitting at 68-78, the team is out of division title contention and is just six losses away from elimination from a potential wild card.

There have been many ups and downs for the Phillies in 2013. Charlie Manuel's dismissal definitely comes to mind as a low point, as does the team's lack of a committed stance at the July 31 trade deadline. Some of the high points have been the emergence of Domonic Brown as an All-Star and a better winning percentage under interim manager Ryne Sandberg than under Manuel on the season.

Nevertheless, the year has been painful to watch, and it would have been much more had the team had loftier expectations. At this point, fans and the team alike await the merciful coming of the offseason, giving the players a chance to hit the reset button for 2014 in addition to an opportunity to bolster the roster.

While it's too early to count on Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. making any specific moves, it's not too early to speculate upon what he might do. Here's six early predictions for the Phillies' upcoming offseason.

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Article Source: Bleacher Report - Philadelphia Phillies

“Hamels, Lee, Then Turn and Flee” a New Take on Old Rhyme for Phillies Fans

September 12, 2013 by PHIL KEIDEL  
Filed under Fan News

Like so many great lines, "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain" is actually a misquote.

Millions of people misquote "Casablanca" every day when they say "play it again, Sam." Humphrey Bogart's character Rick Blaine never says those words, though he comes close.

Similarly, "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain" is a convenient revision of Gerald V. Hern's poem.

Hern was writing about the dearth of reliable pitching options after Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain on the 1948 Boston Braves.

Now, 65 years later, the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies are putting a new spin on that old line.

As the season winds down, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee make two of every five days of Phillies baseball worth watching.

The other three days? We need a rainout.

Especially since August 16, 2013, also known as "Black Friday 2013" or "The Day Charlie Manuel Was Fired," Hamels and Lee are the lone bright spots on the dark death march the Phillies will remain on until the season mercifully ends in Atlanta.

Take a look at the team's game log via ESPN. Or, for a more explicit presentation, check out the game logs for Hamels and Lee. From August 17 forward, Hamels and Lee have started 11 games between them.

The Phillies are 10-1 in those games. They are 4-9 when Roy Halladay, Ethan Martin, Tyler Cloyd or Kyle Kendrick starts. Tossed in among the wreckage of those 13 games were Martin's exit after two outs and Cloyd making the inept San Diego Padres look like the 1927 Yankees.

Before you toss out the "small sample size!" cry, the season numbers bear this analysis out.

Hamels and Lee are on their way to posting elite seasons based on all those peripheral numbers that wins and losses cannot account for. In Hamels and Lee, the Phillies have two pitchers in the National League top 10 in Wins Above Replacement as per ESPN. They are both likely to top 200 strikeouts this season.

After those two, you have to scroll down the Phillies roster all the way to Kyle Kendrick with his 10-12 record, his earned run average closer to five than four and his six losses in seven decisions to find the Phillies' third-best starting pitcher.

That is not a drop-off, that is a free fall.

Enjoy Hamels and Lee now, because there will be no October baseball in Philadelphia in 2013.

Which means that either or both of them might look to be dealt in the offseason or, if the 2014 Phillies are flailing in July, next summer.

Until then, savor the spectacular quality Hamels and Lee bring to the mound when they pitch.

And feel free not to watch the Phillies when they don't.

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