Saturday, January 12, 2013

Offseason Review: The Philadelphia Phillies

New Philadelphia 3B Michael Young
casually surveying his new
 home in full uniform.
What should a team do when for the first time in five years they are not dominating their division? How do you respond when your team goes from having the most wins in all of baseball one season to a piddling .500 season the next? And when everyone professional analysts to your everyday fan can tell that the reason your dominance has suddenly disappeared is because your older stars are no longer able to remain healthy, and can't compete with the same tenacious viciousness they used to? If your answer is to acquire even more old talent and dying flames than you should put your application in at Citizen's Bank ball park, because the Phillies like your style!

All joking aside, the Phillies offseason wasn't a total bust. The core rotation that made the Phillies the absolute monster they were in 2011 is largely in tact, just no Roy Oswalt and a couple years older. Philadelphia also replaced Shane Victorino and Juan Pierre in center field with Ben Revere, who is an extremely promising young talent who they acquired from Minnesota. The problem with that? They had to trade a comparably valuable talent in RHP Vance Worley. Granted the starting rotation is still very good, arguably dominant even, but exchanging young talent for young talent to fill an empty slot doesn't make sense unless you're poised to win now, and the Phillies are not.

New Phillies CF Ben Revere, young
talent for young talent trade from
Minnesota for Vance Worley.
Other curious additions include veteran infielder Michael Young and veteran reliever Mike Adams. The operative word for these additions is "veteran", and why the hell any more veteran presence in the Phillies roster is necessary is beyond me.  Most puzzling is Michael Young, who at 36 is not exactly a candidate for a boost in performance that comes with some players who are given a change of scenery. I'm not saying Young isn't decent, he is. Michael Young is a team captain type of player with valuable experience. Mike Adams is also a very good reliever who's seen the post season and been completely lights out at times, so what's the problem? The problem is this: the Phillies are looking up at two pretty elite teams in Atlanta and Washington, both in their division, and no amount of realistic spending or acquiring can put Philadelphia in their opposition's, so they should consider sitting this one out.

Philadelphia's fate gambled
 on aging stars (above:Roy Halladay)
 staying healthy.
The Phillies management woes are only woes in my opinion. It might seem weird to look at an upgraded team  (the addition of Adams, Young over Polanco) and consider it an unsuccessful offseason, but it just doesn't seem plausible that these additions are going to be playing in any meaningful capacity by the time Philly is ready to contend again. What reinforces my wary attitude towards Philadelphia's management is who they were/are looking who hasn't become a Philly. Vernon Wells? Alfonso Soriano? It's just not going to work. The Phils window is momentarily slammed shut by insurmountable divisional competition. Management needs to remember that they are only about a half a season separated form a reality that had them shipping out Hunter Pence and debating the same fate for young ace Cole Hamels. Barring fluke circumstance, Philadelphia will end up third or fourth in their division.

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