Yes, the Major League Baseball postseason is just getting underway, but in Philadelphia, the attention is already focused on the offseason.
The Phillies finished the regular season with a .500 record at 81-81. After winning the National League East five years in a row, 81-81 is not an acceptable record and the Phillies fan base is expecting big moves and new faces before spring training.
The most noteworthy free agents are Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke, B.J. Upton, Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, and it's possible that the Phillies could land one of these guys as well as a few other pieces to make the 2013 season yet another World Series or bust year.
So, for the time being, enjoy the playoffs because after all, it is playoff baseball. But once the World Series champion is crowned, keep an eye out for the Phillies to make these moves.
The Phillies want to get younger, and they'll begin by signing 28-year-old center fielder B.J. Upton.
Philadelphia needs a new center fielder as it has become apparent that John Mayberry Jr. is not the future starter for this team. Upton is a young, athletic ballplayer with a ton of upside, but that upside has been there for years.
Upton hit only .246 and had an on-base percentage of .298, but he did hit a career-high 28 home runs and drove in 78 runs, the third most of his career.
Not only does Upton have power, but he has stolen 109 bases over the past three seasons. If he can get on base more frequently, he would be a huge asset to the Phillies on the basepaths.
Upton is expected to sign a contract of anywhere between three years, $27 million and five years, $70 million, which is a steep cost, but one that could be worth it for a Phillies team that could use a young, fast center fielder with upside.
The Phillies bullpen cost them a lot of games this season, and bringing in a veteran setup man to get to closer Jonathan Papelbon along with a young mix of middle relievers could get the bullpen back on track.
Mike Adams is available for free agency after this season, and the righty has been extremely reliable over the past few seasons.
This year in Texas, Adams posted an ERA of 3.27—which is actually bad for him—but it was still better than every other Phillies reliever with the exception of Papelbon, Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes.
Looking at Adams' stats at the end of the past few seasons and you can see immediately that he is an elite reliever. In 2011, Adams finished with an ERA of 1.47. In 2010 he had a 1.76 ERA and in 2009 his ERA was a remarkable 0.73.
Whether or not this trade actually happens, the Phillies will try hard to acquire Chase Headley.
Headley quietly had a huge year in San Diego, hitting .286 with 31 home runs and 115 RBI. Headley also had an impressive .376 on-base percentage. If the Phillies can pry Headley away from the Padres they will have to give up a lot of young talent (maybe including Vance Worley), but they will be acquiring one of the best third basemen in the league.
The argument can be made that the reason the Phillies missed the playoffs this year was because they didn't have enough good young players to step in when starters went down, so why would they trade away more young players?
Because Chase Headley is a star.
Obviously this move wouldn't generate as much buzz as the previous three, but re-signing Juan Pierre would be a great move for the Phillies.
Even if the Phillies sign B.J. Upton, they still have some work to do in the outfield.
The 35-year old Pierre hit .307 for the Phillies this year and had an on-base percentage of .351. Bringing back Pierre and signing Upton would give the Phillies a much improved outfield that would be able to find time for Domonic Brown, Nate Schierholtz and John Mayberry Jr. to platoon with Pierre at the corner outfield spots.
A lineup featuring Pierre, Upton and Jimmy Rollins along with Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Chase Headley would have a perfect mixture of speed and power. Which is why I am making this next offseason prediction.
If the Phillies make all of these moves, which is admittedly a big if, they will be the favorites to win the National League East and potentially the favorite to win the World Series. I mean, how could they not be? This is what the projected lineup would look like:
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS (because Charlie Manuel will be back, Rollins will be hitting leadoff)
2. B.J. Upton, CF
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Chase Headley, 3B
6. Domonic Brown, RF
7. Carlos Ruiz, C
8. Juan Pierre, LF
Plus a rotation of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and some combination of Vance Worley (if he isn't traded to San Diego), Kyle Kendrick and Tyler Cloyd.
And, to finish off games the Phillies would have a one-two punch of Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon, which could be as dominant as the Ryan Madson/Brad Lidge duo in 2008.
Dare to dream Phillies fans, this could be what the 2013 Philadelphia Phillies look like.
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