Since the end of the regular season, Phillies fans have bantered back and forth on the blogs about what would be the best line-up come next April. That's not unusual, however; every passionate baseball fan does that.
Sometimes we lose our minds in our quest to make our team the World Series Champions. Perhaps I, too, have lost my mind, but I think for the Phillies to win it again with their aging nucleus of players, they have only one option: sign Josh Hamilton!
Alright already, I can hear all those brave bloggers bowing up behind their computers saying I must be crazy or I don't know anything about baseball. But I will try to make my argument.
The Phillies have two glaring weaknesses heading into the next season. Third base and center-field. With the sudden demise of Placido Polanco and the departure of Shane Victorino those positions are unoccupied.
Going after a third basemen free agent would be a mistake because of the mediocrity of those available. Kevin Youkilis is declining in production; he is not a great clubhouse guy and is injury prone. Do you really want to invest in him for more than one year? The Mets will have difficulty parting ways with David Wright and will probably resign him. The rest of the free-agent pool for third basemen is not worthy of discussion. And forget a trade for A-Rod—he is a risky investment for many reasons beyond just money. Also forget the idea of playing Utley at the hot corner; he cannot handle it.
The Phillies should stick with Kevin Frandsen for a year until Cody Asche is ready. He will give more than 100 percent and, although he may make a few errors, he also can make some big-time game savers as well. His .338 average was impressive although he only had 195 at bats.
Enter Josh Hamilton. The multi-talented outfielder may already have made up his mind to stay in Texas but considering the way the fans treated him at the end of the year and Nolan Ryan's obvious frustration, the Rangers might just let him walk. Now I know everyone will be saying there is just no way Ruben Amaro will convince the ownership to cough up the big bucks. And there will be the detracting element that will say ''no thank you, too much drama." But despite the drama, he still puts up huge numbers and plays an awesome center field.
Can you imagine how much better Utley and Howard will be with him in the middle of the lineup? For Hamilton, leaving Texas may be difficult; getting his wife Katie to commit to Philadelphia might be even harder.
In all probability the Phillies ownership will not deal with Scott Boras, so Michael Bourn might not be an issue. Charlie Manuel's lack of tolerance for clubhouse disruptions may disqualify both of the Upton brothers. Victorino? I doubt if Amaro will give him what he wants. Forget John Mayberry—he can't hit right-handed pitching. Dom Brown, no way. Josh Hamilton? The only choice.
The Phillies will be able to handle the contract despite everyone's disapproval of another big multi-year fiasco. Amaro said he thought Halladay, Howard, Utley and Rollins were still capable of another championship. They will save money with Ruf in left, who will prove himself like 'The Bull" Greg Luzinski did back in the early seventies, and although it may be difficult to watch defensively, they could also go cheap with a platoon of Brown and Mayberry in right field. They have a worthy nucleus of young relievers with Horst, Aumont, DeFratus and either Stutes or Friend. They are as capable as most of those available.
In 2014, the Ryne Sandberg led Phillies will bring up Tyson Gillies and Cody Asche. Asche will take over third and Gillies center. Hamilton can play right. Hernandez or Galvis could play second. By that time there will be a changing of the guard with the starters as May, Pettibone, Martin, Morgan and maybe Biddle will be ready for their shot. With all those young stars in 2014, the money situation should not be an issue.
So a lineup of Rollins, Utley, Hamilton, Howard, Ruf, Ruiz, Mayberry/Brown, Frandsen looks very impressive. I may be dreaming, but I am sure I am not the only one who has detached himself from reality on this one. Now all we have to do is convince Hamilton and Amaro. Oh yeah and all you bloggers as well.