After falling just short of becoming the first National League team to repeat as World Series Champions since the 1976 Cincinnati Reds, the Philadelphia Phillies were left wondering what they were missing that would return them to the Promised Land. Nearly three months later, it seems as though the Phillies' brass is confident that they have found what they were looking for.
This offseason has provided the fans with a dose of everything from monstrous record-breaking trades to minor, yet important signings. Philadelphia has been busy most of the winter.
Mostly minor tweaks have been made to the overall makeup of the team, but there is one looming figure that every fan is eager to see in person. That man is Roy Halladay, simply the best pitcher of the Oughts.
Making a return to the City of Brotherly Love is Placido Polanco, who is making a transition from second base to third to fulfill one of the team's most glaring holes. Other various acquisitions have been made to improve gaps on the bench and in the bullpen. Yet, as always, a few questions remain surrounding the 2010 Phils.
Before we delve into each individual concern, let's take a look back at each move and how this team shapes up to be different from last season's.
New For 2010
SP: Roy Halladay
RP: Danys Baez, Jose Contreras (may be utilized as SP)
INF: Juan Castro (SS), Ross Gload (1B), Placido Polanco (3B), Brian Schneider (C)
Gone From 2009
SP: Cliff Lee, Rodrigo Lopez, Brett Myers (also considered RP), Pedro Martinez
RP: Clay Condrey, Scott Eyre, Chan Ho Park, Jack Taschner, Tyler Walker
INF: Paul Bako (C), Miguel Cairo (UTIL), Pedro Feliz (3B)
OF: Matt Stairs
Overall, there are more players departing than coming onto the team. Yet the players that have been added are expected to have more important roles on the team.
The departure of Cliff Lee in the Halladay trade may leave some confused, but it cannot be argued that Halladay has been the superior pitcher over his entire career. The departures of Lopez and Myers make little to no impact based on the fact that they had limited roles the entire season.
Martinez's absence may make somewhat of an impact as it forces the Phillies to find an extra pitcher for the upcoming season. I think Contreras may be able to fill that need.
Condrey, Eyre, Park, and Walker all made about equal contributions to last year's team. They will leave a hole that will be tough to fix, but there are other relievers on the team who have the ability to step up and deliver if called upon.
Polanco is an important signing as it provides the Phillies with an upgrade over Pedro Feliz. One of the best offenses in all of baseball only improved when it brought back the team's former second basemen (before Chase Utley, that is).
Schneider is expected to finally be the backup catcher the Phils have been looking for. Chris Coste never amounted to much and Paul Bako was inconsistent at best. Schneider has experience as a starter and can fill in nicely when Carlos Ruiz takes the day off.
SP: Roy Halladay (Three-year, $60 million), Joe Blanton (Three-year, $24 million)
INF: Carlos Ruiz (Three-year, $8.85 million)
OF: Shane Victorino (Three-year, $22 million)
The only puzzling aspect of these signings is Blanton's. This season he is slated to make less than playoff-hero Cliff Lee, who has been dealt to Seattle for three prospects to replenish some of the farm system.
Would it have made more sense to keep Lee on the roster, trade Blanton for one prospect, and receive two first round picks if Lee were to leave via free agency after the season? Right now, the Phillies would be sittin' pretty with the best 1-2-3 in all of baseball (Halladay, Lee, and Hamels).
Besides that, not much else can be debated about these signings. In fact, the Phils should be ecstatic to have been able to sign Halladay for such a low price compared to that of CC Sabathia and what Cliff Lee will be expecting.
Who will fill the void as the fifth starter? Some of the likely candidates are Kyle Kendrick, Jose Contreras, Jamie Moyer, and Andrew Carpenter.
Can Brad Lidge regain his perfect form or something close to it?
Will Roy Halladay perform up to expectations?
Is Cole Hamels ready for Spring Training this time around?
Are the additions to the bench enough to make that much of a difference?
Final Grade: B
Ruben Amaro Jr. did a tremendous job in handling every situation he was faced with. Every aspect of the team was addressed and improved in some way or another.
What keeps the Phillies from receiving an "A" is the Halladay-Lee situation. Whether they made the right move or not is unclear. Yet with the overall questioning as to why the team moved Lee when it was not completely necessary, it is difficult to award them with the "A".