After an unbelievable championship winning year, the Philadelphia Phillies, filled with hard struggles and magnificent comebacks, injuries and recoveries, and hot streaks and cold streaks, the Phighten' Phils are saying, "It's not over yet!"
Philadelphia's shortstop, 2007 MVP Jimmy Rollins, stated before the season last year, "It's a failed season if we don’t go all the way." The prophetic Rollins fulfilled his pre-season statement for the second year in a row by receiving the gold. It has been said by many professional athletes over the many years of sports, "Once you've tasted the gold, there is no going back."
So, what have the Phils done this offseason to try and maintain command of the National League East division?
They have a new general manager, Reubon Amaro Jr. They've acquired outfielder Raul Ibanez, replacing former left fielder Pat Burrell. They also signed right-handed pitcher Chan Ho Park from the Dodgers as reinforcement to their already outstanding bullpen. A more minor pick up was Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino. Paulino could have been intended to be used to add more of a hitting threat from the catcher position.
But is that it for this offseason? How do these three average signings compare to the Mets signings of star closers J.J. Putz and K-Rod (Francisco Rodriguez)?
In my opinion, the Phil's new GM was much less than flawless this postseason.
With left-handed sluggers Chase Utley and Ryan Howard batting third and fourth, the Phillies really needed to aquire a strong right-handed or switch-hitting, moderate power hitter.
Instead of even attempting to make an offer to right-handed Manny Ramirez, who already has a great relationship with Phillies manager, Charlie Manuel, from their Cleveland days together in the 90's, they signed Raul Ibanez. He is a left-handed hitter whose numbers were above average with the Mariners batting, .293 with 23 homers and 110 RBI.
Amaro's strategy was much less than ingenious to me.
On a more positive note, the Phillies were able to resign Jason Werth, Cole Hamels, and Greg Dobbs.
As for 2006 MVP and 2008 home run leader, Ryan Howard, they finally settled a three-year deal on him on February 8th. This deal was big because it avoids his second arbitration, which could have led to some hard feelings between the club and the first baseman.
So the defending champs of Major League Baseball will have almost the exact team as their championship team. This can be a plus or a minus depending on how other teams shaped up this offseason.
The key to having a repeat season will be to execute with runners in scoring position, and keep team leader, Jimmy Rollins, healthy and disciplined. On top of those tasks they really need to find a left-handed reliever to fill in for J.C Romero during his suspension. Right now it looks as if ex-Braves reliever, Will Ohman is at the top of the list for that job.
If the Phils execute all of these tasks without error, they should have no problem going to the postseason again.