Grading Philadelphia Phillies' Moves so Far This Offseason

Phil KeidelContributor IIDecember 15, 2013

Sunny afternoons with Lee on the bump are one of the last reliable draws for the Phillies.
Sunny afternoons with Lee on the bump are one of the last reliable draws for the Phillies.Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Philadelphia Phillies fans have been reduced to being thankful for potentially disastrous moves the team did not make.

Specifically, the Phillies did not trade Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee or Domonic Brown at the Major League Baseball winter meetings last week.

The three signings the Phillies have made this offseason—Carlos Ruiz, Marlon Byrd and Roberto Hernandez—addressed specific needs for a catcher, a right-handed power bat in the outfield and a right-handed starting pitcher in the rotation.

That is the best you can say for those three signings—that they addressed specific needs. Because no one is buying tickets to Citizens Bank Park to watch Carlos Ruiz catch or to watch Marlon Byrd play the outfield.

And you would have to predict that Roberto Hernandez, he of the 6-13 record with a 4.89 earned run average for a 92-win team, is not going to be much of a draw.

So the best moves the Phillies have made this offseason are the ones they have (so far) refrained from.

Phillies fans love Chase Utley. He is still a player people want to see.

They used to love Ryan Howard, and if we're being honest it would only take a torrid April or May with a dozen or so bombs to bring that feeling back.

The same is true for Jimmy Rollins—a hot start for J-Roll in 2014 will bring fans to their feet for him again.

Jonathan Papelbon's act still plays when the Phillies are winning. Not so much when they're not.

On recent form, though, none of those players really moves the needle from a ticket-buying perspective.

Sultry summer nights with Hamels pitching are not too shabby, either.
Sultry summer nights with Hamels pitching are not too shabby, either.Brian Garfinkel/Getty Images

Hamels, Lee and Brown are the three best reasons to come to Citizens Bank Park. Lee and Brown were All-Stars in 2013; Hamels might have been one if the team had ever hit for him.

Regardless, a ticket to watch Hamels or Lee pitch is still the Phillies fans' best bet for a return on investment; a well-pitched game that the Phillies will have a better-than-average chance to win.

As for Brown, Phillies fans have to be intrigued to learn which player Brown really is.

Is Brown the young, dynamic slugger who hit 27 home runs in 2013? Or is he the guy who hit 12 home runs (total) in three previous seasons, never raising his batting average over .245 in the process?

The Phillies' moves this offseason, then, are a paradox of action and inaction.

The three signings are a C, maybe a C-. Giving Ruiz three years and Byrd two feels excessive.

Holding onto the Phillies' three marquee names, though? That is an A.

Hamels, Lee and Brown are still the best reasons to pay attention to the Phillies at all.