Grading Each of the Philadelphia Phillies' Offseason Moves so Far
The Philadelphia Phillies pitched their way to new heights in 2011 and won the most games in team history with 102. Pundits across the country smiled as this pitching-heavy team constructed by GM Ruben Amaro crumbled once again on the biggest of stages.
You couldn't score one run against Chris Carpenter in a series-clinching game? Really, one run?
Have the Phillies done enough this offseason to fill in the gaps that were missing from this team? Power off the bench, pop from the right side of the plate to replace Jayson Werth, Ryan Howard not stinking up the joint.
Big Poker Ruben Amaro may still have some tricks up his sleeve, but let's grade each of the offseason moves so far.
Phillies Sign Dontrelle Willis
The Philadelphia Phillies added the "D-Train" Dontrelle Willis after signing him to a one-year contract in December. The deal has the potential to be high reward with very little risk as Willis will come out of the bullpen and be a left-handed specialist.
The Phillies have had very little left-handed pitching depth out of the bullpen besides Antonio Bastardo and left-handers hit .127/.169/.200 against Willis in 55 at-bats last season. Willis has been dominant against lefties with his awkward delivery and could be a huge piece to the Phillies championship puzzle in 2012.
There's still a chance Ryan Madson could accept arbitration as many potential suitors are off the market. Could you imagine a bullpen with Papelbon, Contreras, Madson, Bastardo and Dontrelle Willis?
Under the radar signing that fulfills a huge need for the team at a very team friendly price.
Phillies Sign Laynce Nix
Another signing that didn't receive national attention was the acquisition of LF Laynce Nix. The 31-year-old had as many HR in 2011 (16) against RH pitching as Raul Ibanez had all season in many more ABs.
A platoon of Nix and slugging John Mayberry Jr. has the potential to provide huge power numbers. Again, Amaro was able to acquire a player at very low risk to the ballclub with potential for high reward.
Nix is another power bat that Charlie Manuel will have in his arsenal when the lineup predictably goes cold at times in 2012.
Huge fan of this signing as pundits have made it very clear that John Mayberry Jr. can't hit RH pitching. Well, Nix struggles against left-handed pitching so we have the perfect opportunity to platoon these guys and reap the rewards.
Phillies Trade for Ty Wigginton
The Philadelphia Phillies traded a player to be named later for Ty Wigginton of the Colorado Rockies. Wigginton adds another power bat (15 HR in 2011) at a very reasonable price and he can play a variety of positions.
Wigginton is a tenacious player that will be another great addition to the clubhouse. Don't be surprised to see Wigginton in the starting lineup when the games matter most in 2012 (sorry Polly).
Amaro was able to add two players in Nix and Wigginton that are legitimate long-ball threats at a price that was friendly for a team limited by their payroll.
Solid signing by Amaro that gives the Phillies more pop and flexibility at a low cost.
Phillies Re-Sign Brian Schneider
The Philadelphia Phillies re-signed backup catcher Brian Schneider in December and many fans were asking the simple question: "Why would they want to bring back a guy who hit below the Mendoza line?"
The simple answer is they needed a relatively inexpensive option behind Chooch who is experienced and can handle a pitching staff that includes two Cy Young Award winners and a World Series MVP.
Brian Schneider is a respected veteran who fills that need.
Bring back Brian Schneider? Why not?
Don't answer that as I'm sure many members of Phillies Nation could think of a million reasons.
Phillies Sign Jim Thome
There were so many moments during the Philadelphia Phillies World Series run in 2008 that will live forever, but the pinch-hit home run by Matt Stairs (Paul Bunyan?) has to be near the top of the list. That is the first thing I thought of when the Phillies re-signed Jim Thome this offseason.
Thome will provide a ton of power off the bench and he will provide another respected voice in the clubhouse. The Phillies will get Thome's best as he thinks of Charlie Manuel like a father figure and he has a legitimate shot at winning him his first World Series.
Great move that works for all involved.
Who would've thought Jim Thome would be back in Phillies pinstripes after Ryan Howard came to town?
Phillies Sign Jonathan Papelbon
The Philadelphia Phillies signed the best closer on the market when they inked Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million deal. The $50 million is the most ever for a closer and many are skeptical about the move, but here is why Phillies Nation shouldn't fret.
Papelbon only cost the Phillies a few million more than Ryan Madson is seeking in free agency and he has proven to be lights-out for years. Papelbon will be able to handle the media frenzy and sell-out crowds that come with playing in Philadelphia as he did with the Red Sox.
Spending $4-5 million more on a guy that has a proven track record as a closer is okay with me.
The Phillies rely so heavily on their pitching and adding one of the top-three closers in MLB only makes them stronger.
Phillies Sign Jimmy Rollins
The Philadelphia Phillies (and the rest of MLB) laughed when Jimmy Rollins stated that he sought a five-year deal. GM Ruben Amaro was able to sign Rollins to a deal that seems fair for all involved (three years) and ensures Rollins will continue to climb the Phillies leader boards in a myriad of categories.
Rollins has been the Phillies spark plug and swagger for more than a decade and it's a fact that the team scores runs when their SS is on base and causing havoc. Rollins is still an above-average defender and, if healthy, can hit for power.
Good move for both sides but it begs the question, "What about MiLB Player of the Year Freddy Galvis?"