Philadelphia Phillies: Why Their NLDS Loss Was a Blessing in Disguise

Avery MaehrerCorrespondent IOctober 17, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 07:  Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies walks back to the dugout after he flied out in the bottom of the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Five of the National League Divisional Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 7, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

As quickly as it began, it had ended.

The thrill and excitement of October baseball had barely lasted a week, and the Philadelphia Phillies found their record-breaking season rendered useless. 

But maybe behind the disappointment, disgust, humiliation and devastation that swept so quickly through the city is hope.

It's now blatantly obvious this team is flawed. Maybe not in terms of starting pitching, or the ability to win games in the regular season (after all, they did win a franchise record 102 of them). But this team, now three years removed from a World Series, is not cut out for winning in the postseason. 

They've been able to dodge the "age" bullet for quite a while, but with an embarrassing three-hit performance in Game 5 of the NLDS, it was never so blatantly obvious that the lineup's seniority was causing some problems. Can it be fixed? Maybe.

Rollins, who had the best series of any Phillies hitter, clearly must be re-signed. He continues to be what makes this team run, and although he is far removed from his 2007 MVP season, he remains an energetic force at the top of the lineup.

But after that, change is inevitable.

Placido Polanco, as consistent he may be when he's healthy, seems to be consistently bad when he's not. Unfortunately for Polly, his injuries seem to be hammering him more and more as he nears 40. 

Utley and Howard, whatever argument you may have, are not going anywhere. 

The spot in left is sure to prove to be a problem, especially at the beginning of next season. Will it be Mayberry? Brown? Or will Mayberry play first when Howard's gone? It's way too early to know, but some interesting questions await Ruben and Charlie come spring training.

The pitching is fine. That much is clear. They might not have gotten it done, but with a rotation that dominant, there's nothing more you can do to improve them. The series did, however, show us the importance of Cole Hamels. His dominant start was one of the high points of the series for the Phillies, and signing the southpaw to an extension should be at the top of the Phillies' priorities this offseason.

The Phillies should have won the World Series. On paper, they were the best. By far. But maybe, just maybe, losing early opened up the eyes of Amaro and his staff on what really needs to be done. We now know that change is necessary. And as ridiculous as it may seem, losing early may have been the only way to figure that out.