Philadelphia Phillies: 6 Realistic Moves Phils Should Still Consider for 2012
This photo is where we last left the Phillies.
This is Ryan Howard, who, just before the moment of this photograph, was the proud owner of two healthy Achillies tendons. This was the final at-bat of Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS, and even up until the final batter that night, the Phillies still had hope to pull that game out and advance.
That's because the Philadelphia Phillies were, and remain, a very, very good team. And so, as the Fightin' Phils head into 2012, most of the pieces are already in place for another run at a World Series.
There are, however, a few minor moves the Phillies should still make to bolster their bench and bullpen and a few bigger ones to look into for the continued success of this franchise.
Sign Aaron Miles
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After trading star reliever and utility man Wilson Valdez, the Phillies have a void on their bench and need a utility infielder.
With the age and injury history of their infield, the Phillies can't rely on Utley, Polanco and Rollins to play all of their games. That said, the current contingency plan is the hulking (145 pounds) Michael Martinez and his .196 career batting average.
The Phillies have some options here, as there are a couple of capable infield bats remaining. Among those who the Phillies could sign are Edgar Renteria, Miguel Tejada, Aaron Miles and Carlos Guillen. My choice would be Miles; he's younger than Tejada, more versatile and healthy than Guillen and had a decent year last year while Renteria just looked old.
Sign Mike Gonzalez
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The Phillies still need some bullpen help. They've gone out this offseason and signed Jonathan Papelbon and Dontrelle Willis, but they still need some arms to fill out their relief corps.
It's a possibility those arms come from inside their own system (with guys like Joe Savery and Justin De Fratus, for example), but the Phillies would also be wise to bring in a couple of other players just in case.
Mike Gonzalez is a guy worth taking a flier on if the price is right—one of those low-risk, high-reward type situations. Though he's spent the last couple years dealing with injuries, Gonzalez was once a hot commodity after some great seasons with the Pirates and Braves. Even though he's known to be wild at times, he still strikes a lot of guys out. That's something very valuable in a left-handed reliever.
Other pitchers the Phillies could consider here are Hong-Chih Kuo, Chad Durbin, Jason Isringhausen, Todd Coffey and Juan Cruz.
Work Like Hell to Sign Cole Hamels and Hunter Pence Long-Term
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Cole Hamels is one of the best left-handed pitchers in the Major Leagues.
Hunter Pence batted .324 after being traded to the Phillies last year and is one of the only players in the Phillies lineup under 30.
Both agreed to one-year deals with the team recently to avoid arbitration, and both are slated to hit the free-market shortly. Hamels will be a free agent after the upcoming 2012 season, while Pence is arbitration-eligible for one more year and will hit the market in 2013. The Phillies absolutely can't afford to lose their youngest ace and the guy who may be their best hitter right now.
Barring a ridiculous cost, the Phillies have to get something done here.
Consider Trading Domonic Brown for Third Base Help
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Don't get me wrong, I'm one of Dom Brown's biggest supporters. Unfortunately for Dom, though, it appears Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. isn't—and that's a whole lot more important.
Brown, who was rated the No. 2 prospect in all of baseball last year by various sources, has failed to impress Amaro at the big league level. Though he has all the tools, Amaro clearly doesn't see "it" in him. Ruben recently said that Brown would benefit from another season at the minor league level and that the starting left field job is John Mayberry Jr's to lose.
If the Phillies really don't see Brown in their future, the time to trade him is now while he's still young and his stock is still high. Brown could be packaged with Placido Polanco in order to get a team to take on the oft-injured Polanco's contract and hopefully acquire a good, young third baseman.
Try Moving Freddy Galvis or Jimmy Rollins to Third Base
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As mentioned in the previous slide, the Phillies could use some help at third base. Placido Polanco is getting older, is often injured and has virtually no power. He's not the player with the peanut-shaped head that he used to be, and though his defense is still good, he's no more than a .275 singles hitter with average speed.
That said, shortstop is a position the Phillies actually have a bit of a surplus at now. Jimmy Rollins is back for at least three more years, and Freddy Galvis is one of the few positional prospects the Phillies actually have at the top of their farm system.
Though Rollins' defense remains incredible, Galvis is also known as a slick fielder. As Jimmy's range will decrease the next couple of seasons, he could move to third base to shore up the Phils' situation there and provide a spot for Galvis. It's not an unheard of move for a successful shortstop—Alex Rodriguez did it when he went to the Yankees in 2004.
Or, the Phillies could go the other direction and begin prepping Galvis to play third base. That way, the Phillies can be ready when Polanco gets hurt, struggles or leaves after this year.
Consider Trading Shane Victorino
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This one hurts a little bit to write, but trading the Flyin' Hawaiian may actually be a smart decision.
Along with Hamels, Victorino will also become a free agent after the 2012 season. Shane is older than Hunter Pence and is likely priority No. 3 for the Phils after locking up Hamels and Pence before he becomes a free agent next year. He's a great fielder, a deft base-stealer and a spark plug; in other words, he's sure to have a big price tag.
Since it's probably unrealistic for the Phillies to re-sign all three of their big upcoming expiring contracts, why not explore trading Victorino this season and actually getting something in return? If they opt to stick with Domonic Brown, outfield is one of the few positions where the Phillies have some decent organizational depth.
The Phils would still look alright without Victorino. Pence could play right, Brown left and John Mayberry Jr. would take over center field.
In return, the Phils could pick up some prospects to help rebuild a farm system that has been depleted near the top by recent big trades. Or, this could be the Phillies' route to a third base upgrade. Considering that the alternative is Victorino leaving after the season for nothing besides draft compensation, it's worth exploring.