The 5 Moves the Phillies Should Make

Posted: November 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


Ruben Amaro Jr. is going to have a busy winter. For the first time in his tenure, the Phillies head into the offseason without a playoff berth in their rearview mirror. Instead of champagne and high-fives, the Phillies have head aches and question marks. Sure, they should get healthier in the rotation, the bullpen, and in the heart of the lineup. But, there remains gaping holes in the outfield, in the backend of the ‘pen, and at the back of the rotation. Below are five moves that would put the Phillies closer to contending for a title once again:

1. Sign Josh Hamilton to a 5 year, $125 million contract.


I understand the risks involved with signing any lucrative free agent, let alone one with the history that Hamilton has. The #1 overall pick in the 1999 draft, Hamilton dealt with depression and drug addiction in the early “aughts” and would go on to miss the 2004-2006 seasons altogether. It was not until 2007, when he joined the Cincinnati Reds, that Hamilton found his niche in baseball. Since then, he has had problems with relapses (alcohol related, not drug) and recently quit chewing tobacco, which Nolan Ryan blamed for his second half slump in 2012.

Still, Hamilton is the best offensive force available this offseason. The 2010 AL MVP hit .285 with 43 HR and 128 RBI in 148 games last season. The risks are well known. But, if you can get him for 4 or 5 years, the reward might be worth it. The Phillies will either ante up for Hamilton, or they can spend nearly $100 million for less production with Michael Bourn.

2. Sign Kevin Youkilis to a 2 year, $25 million contract.


I know the injury risks that go along with both of these fellows. But, they’re the best players available at their positions this offseason. If Amaro can get Youkilis on a one or two year deal, it could end up being a steal for the Phillies.

The veteran third baseman has seen a decline in his health and production the past few seasons. But, when compared to the motley crew of available players at the hot corner, he’s a wide step up. After getting traded to the White Sox from Boston, Youk’s production rose dramatically. He’s still a sharp fielder, and that coupled with his experience would make him a fine snag short term.

3. Sign Koji Uehara to a one year, $4.5 million contract.


The 37-year-old Japanese right hander has blossomed since his move to the bullpen in 2010. After coming over to America in 2009 as a starter with Baltimore, Uehara evolved into a capable late-inning bullpen piece. He was traded to Texas in 2011, and experienced the best numbers of his career in 2012. Uehara pitched 36 innings with the Rangers, going 0-0 with a 1.75 ERA, 1 save, and a 43:3 strikeout to walk ratio.

With the Wilton Lopez deal falling through, the Phils should look at Uehara as a fine alternative.

4. Platoon Darin Ruf/Domonic Brown in Right Field; Nate Schierholtz/John Mayberry in Left Field.


You cannot spend money everywhere and hope to still have some come next year. The Phillies need to maximize their monetary value by keeping their corner outfield positions in house. Luckily, the Phils have plenty of depth at those positions, even if it’s of the unspectacular variety.

Brown has been the Phillies’ top prospect and most untouchable asset for what feels like three decades now. His development was stunted by the presence of Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez, and Hunter Pence. Now, it’s time to let him roam free. Ruf, meanwhile, burst onto the scene in 2012. After being named just the 20th best prospect in the Phillies’ system, the 26-year-old slugger made his name in the minors before emerging as a bonafide power threat in the majors during his September call up. Playing Brown against most righties and Ruf against most lefties would maximize their value and allow the team to truly judge who is the keeper.

Meanwhile, at the other corner outfield spot, there is also an opening. John Mayberry had a mediocre season (his .695 OPS was the worst among Phillies with over 400 at bats). But, his performance against lefties (.811 OPS) was better than the $75 million man himself, BJ Upton. His platoon partner would be Nate Schierholtz, whom the Phillies acquired from San Francisco in July. With one of the best arms in baseball, the left handed hitting Schierholtz would give the Phillies an added asset in the outfield.

5. Sign Brandon McCarthy to a 3 year, $24 million contract.


A former top prospect of the Chicago White Sox; McCarthy’s name was thrown around an awful lot back in 2005 when the Sox were interested in former Phillies’ closer Billy Wagner. Now, seven years and a whole lot of surgeries later, the former ace-in-waiting has evolved into a very talented middle-of-the-rotation starter. Yes, he is still an injury risk. But, the potential reward is worth it.

Over the last two seasons, McCarthy has made 43 starts. Over that span, he’s 17-15 with a 3.29 ERA and a 196:49 strikeout to walk ratio. That impressive control is further magnified by the fact that he has thrown just 3 wild pitches in two seasons.

Now, some may be wondering why the Phillies need to invest more capital into starting pitching. Well, let us consider this for a moment. The team has two aging aces at the top in Roy Halladay (free agent after 2013) and Cliff Lee. Their health and longevity is certainly something to keep an eye on. After those two and Cole Hamels, it becomes a question mark as to whom will take over the #4 and #5 spots in the rotation. Vance Worley’s promising 2011 was overrun by a disappointing 2012. His campaign eventually ended with elbow problems, and we’re not quite sure how productive he will be in 2013. Then, there’s Kyle Kendrick. KK enjoyed the best year of his career and I expect him to be in the rotation come Spring Training. But, if Worley is hurt and Kendrick (whose contract also runs out after 2013) remains inconsistent, the Phillies will have some serious problems at the back end.

If McCarthy weren’t such an injury risk, he would probably be commanding a 5-6 year deal worth $15+ million a year. But, if the Phillies can get him for 3 or fewer years and under $10 million annually, they will have to jump.

Projected Lineup

1. SS Jimmy Rollins
2. C Carlos Ruiz
3. 2B Chase Utley
4. 1B Ryan Howard
5. CF Josh Hamilton
6. 3B Kevin Youkilis
7. RF Domonic Brown/Darin Ruf
8. LF John Mayberry/Nate Schierholtz


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