The Philadelphia Phillies' 2012 season didn't pan out how anybody expected, but that shouldn't cause panic among the Ruben Amaro front office.
The Phils still have a lot to look forward to in 2013, but writing more checks to go along with their already bloated payroll wouldn't make anything better.
The answer for Philadelphia is largely in-house. They certainly have the pieces to compete again next year and beyond, but overspending would blow their chances to pieces.
As long as the Phillies play it cool this winter, there's reason to believe they won't have a bounce-back campaign next season.
Here's why we think Amaro shouldn't even think about inking any big names this offseason.
Although the team's future outlook is bright, the Phillies' current financial situation is far from ideal.
The team signed ace Cole Hamels to a six-year, $144 million contract last June. Add that deal to Ryan Howard's five-year, $125 million pact and the $120 million Amaro threw Cliff Lee's way in December 2010, and you'll begin to understand that the Phils' bloated payroll is an issue.
Roy Halladay is also on the books for $20 million next year, as well as Chase Utley for $15 million, Jonathan Papelbon for $13 million and Jimmy Rollins at $11 million.
More spending would only hamper the Phillies financially even more. The team, barring a blockbuster deal, plans on having multiple big figures atop their books through 2017.
Another long-term deal might help them out in 2013, but it would also eliminate any chance at flexibility for the foreseeable future.
The Phillies possess the star power to dominate in the playoffs, but they also have the youth to withstand the 162 games to get them there.
Second baseman Freddy Galvis will be returning from his PED suspension next year and will attempt to prove he can stick as a clean major leaguer.
We should expect Dom Brown to progress in what he hopes will be his first full season as a Phillie. Brown improved his August OPS of .675 to a .736 mark in September and October.
Pitching prospect Phillippe Aumont made his major league debut in August, and wowed the organization during his stint in the bigs. Used primarily in a setup role, the Canadian-born Aumont pitched to a 1.08 ERA in his first nine games. After two rocky outings against Houston and the Mets—he allowed four of his six runs on the season in those two games—he sported a 1.59 ERA in his final seven appearances.
2013 is shaping up to be a big year for young Phillies, contributing even more to the argument for penny-pinching this offseason.
In 2008, the Philadelphia Phillies were world champions. Ruben Amaro should learn from his predecessor, Pat Gillick, and take that squad's approach to the future.
In the team's most recent banner year, the Phillies had just the 13th-highest payroll in baseball at $94 million. Their highest-paid player was Pat Burrell, who made $14 million that year. Ryan Howard was the only other player who made more than $10 million on the '08 Philly squad.
They've been in the top 10 in team payroll every season since, none of which resulted in rings for Phillies players. Team salary has skyrocketed to over $170 million—a near $80 million jump in just four seasons.
Trying to solve Philadelphia's troubles by signing another big-name free agent would be as helpful as fighting a fire with gasoline. Ruben Amaro should finally take note of this and move through this winter with caution.
Following early-season struggles—they were 13 games under .500 at the All-Star break—the Phillies found their way in the second half.
In the season's final 60 games, the team went 36-24. In that time, the pitching staff's ERA was a combined 3.21. Compare that to the 4.19 number the staff sported in the 102 games prior to realize the marked improvement in Philly's hurlers.
Philadelphia managed to save a season that was doomed in July. They were fighting for a wild-card spot as late as game No. 156.
They made something out of a season destined to fail by improving their pitching and with overall team chemistry. Despite dealing away Hunter Pence, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton, the Phils were able to battle to the end and finish at .500.
If you think the Phillies need to make major changes for next year, then this should be the only argument you need to hear.