I know that it is way to early to be thinking about the 2012 season, as the 2011 season has not even started yet, or is it? Some teams as of right now know that they will not have a chance for the World Series, and some of those teams are probably already eying players who are due to hit the free agent market after the conclusion of the current season. It is wise for all teams to look at this point in time at the holes that may be left in their current roster after this season and see who will fit into that hole.
This offseason, the Philadelphia Phillies lost Jayson Werth to free agency, which has left a big question mark in the Phillies lineup to see who will replace Werth. Initially, there was talk about seeking the free agents to fill this hole. Names like Matt Diaz, Jeff Francoeur, and, the much coveted, Carl Crawford. The potential for all of these players sifted away when the Phillies signed Cliff Lee, which is perfectly fine with me and most Phillies fans.
In this coming offseason, Raul Ibanez is due for his contract to expire. Ibanez may be turning 39 years-old in June, but he still proved to be within the top three offensive producers for the Phillies in 2010, with the second highest on-base percentage following the All-Star break. So will the Phillies resign him or let himgo and find an in house replacement or seek free agency.
This list will contain outfielders that are due for free agency or are within the Phillies organization already that could fill the hole in the outfield.
David DeJesus is due for free agency after this season, currently being signed with the Oakland A's. Last year, in the course of 91 games played, he batted for an average of .318 with 5 homeruns, 37 RBIs, an on-base percentage of .384, and a slugging percentage of .443. He also had 23 doubles, which ranks him fairly high in that category.
He makes this list even though his homeruns and RBIs may not be that impressive. However, he does have a very good batting average and on-base percentage, so good that he would have the best batting average on the Phillies last year and the fifth best on-base percentage. Also, his numbers of production would improve, because he played about sixty percent of the season that he would play as an everyday starter.
Josh Willingham is also due to hit free agency after this season. Willingham is familiar with the NL East division, as he has spent his entire professional career there so far when he played there with Florida and Washington. However, in 2011, he is an Oakland A.
In 2010, he batted for an average of .268 with 16 homeruns, 56 RBIs, an on-base percentage of .389, and a slugging percentage of .459. He may be fit to provide some of the offense that could be missing in the Phillies lineup.
Jack Cust will be a free agent after playing this season with the Seattle Mariners. He produced very similar numbers to Ibanez in 2010. He batted for an average of .272 with 13 homeruns, 52 RBIs, an on-base percentage of .395, and a slugging percentage of .438. His on-base percentage is quite impressive and may fit very well in the Phillies lineup. He has about the same chance to hit a homerun or at least get on base that Ibanez did last year.
Jason Kubel offers a little more power than Ibanez does but at a cost of some on-base percentage. In 2010, Kubel batted for an average of .249 with 21 homeruns, 92 RBIs, .323 on-base percentage, and a slugging average of .427. He has a little pop to his bat but will get on base a little bit less.
One fact about him that is appealing is that he is currently only 28 years-old, plus he was paid just a little more than a third of what Ibanez was paid last year.
Nick Swisher is due for free agency after 2011. He offers about twice the power that Ibanez does at the plate and does not lose too much of the on-base percentage. In 2010, Swisher batted for an average of .288 with 29 homeruns, 89 RBIs, an on-base percentage of .359, and a slugging average of .511. He also came at a price of about sixty percent of what Ibanez was paid last year.
The Phillies do need a right handed power hitter, and the team was not necessarily able to replace that aspect of Werth for this coming season. Swisher would offer that to the Phillies if he were acquired after this season.
Corey Hart is another young outfield due for free agency after 2011. He is 28 years-old and currently signed with the Milwaukee Brewers. In 2010, he batted for an average of .283 with 31 homeruns, 102 RBIs, an on-base percentage of .340, and a slugging average of .525.
He would provide definite added homerun production, and he is a right handed power hitter who has a fairly decent on-base percentage. He also was paid about forty percent of what Ibanez was paid in 2010. He too would offer a definite bonus to the Phillies offense if he were to be acquired after this season.
Jose Bautista would more than make up for the missing right handed power hitting missed by Werth if the Phillies acquired him after 2011. In 2010 Bautista batted for an average of .260 with 54 homeruns, 124 RBIs, .378 on-base percentage, and a slugging average of .617.
He will be 31 by next offseason and due for free agency. When looking at his paycheck, he was drastically underpaid for 2010, having received only twenty percent of what Ibanez was paid. He will likely come at top dollar when he is a free agent, but his production that he would add to the Phillies would be well worth the cost.
Ben Francisco is a definite contender for the left field spot for the Phillies. Although, my expectation is that he outright earns the starting spot for right field this year. If that happens, he would not be in play for left field, but until he earns the starting spot in right field, he is still in contention for left field. If he wins the starting spot for right field, he will produce numbers very, very similar to Werth's numbers, with the exception of homeruns. He will produce the same amount of RBIs as Werth with less homeruns, partially due to the fact that he strikes out about eight percent less than Werth.
His numbers in 2010 were a batting average of .268 with 6 homeruns, 28 RBIs,an on-base percentage of .327, and a slugging percentage of .441.
Raul Ibanez should have a fair opportunity to keep his place in the rotation. Just because he will be 39 does not mean his production will stop. He has been one of the best producers on the Phillies for the past two years. Last year he batted for an average of .275 with 16 homeruns, 83 RBIs, an on-base percentage .349, and a slugging average of .444. He very well could continue his career by playing with the Phillies, and I would not be opposed to that if he produces in 2011 anywhere near where he did in 2010.
Dominic Brown could very well be the best option for left field if Ibanez does not have his contract renewed. He is the top prospect for the Phillies and at 23 years-old has a very promising future. His numbers in 2010 do not show his potential, but he batted for an average of .210 with 2 homeruns, 13 RBIs, an on-base percentage of.257, and a slugging percentage of .355.
Overall, the Phillies could look into any of these ten players, but the in house options are probably the best options, at least for the sake of saving the expenses for some of these other top names that could compare to the possible hole left by Ibanez.