Every offseason is filled with anticipation and trepidation. It's a time to reflect on the wrongs of the past, a time to be hopeful for the upcoming spring. As baseball enthusiasts prepare for a long hibernation period, trade rumors and free-agent talk become the acorns that sustain true baseball nuts.
Most teams have major moves and decisions to make but no team's needs appear as pressing as the Philadelphia Phillies. After keeping much of their team intact for the past five years, they will be forced to make some tough decisions on key players.
Since 2008 Philadelphia has watched a steady regression of a team expected to amass serious hardware. Young scrappers who played baseball the way we demanded have become hobbled shells of their former selves. So what must this team do to stay relevant? With a window rapidly closing they must continue to mortgage their future for the present, and I believe that starts with acquiring David Wright.
There have been rumors swirling around Wright for the past two weeks. With the Mets looking like bottom dwellers for the foreseeable future, prospects and inexpensive major league talent might get the job done—think Domonic Brown and Vance Worley at Citi Field next year.
David Wright is a player this city would fall in love with. And it wouldn't be the first time our hearts went to mush for a one-time enemy. Remember Pete Rose and Lenny Dykstra?
Wright plays a Gold Glove third base and is eerily similar to Chase Utley in his offensive prime. He is under contract for the next two years, and although expensive, his production, leadership and youth would serve this team well.
With Wright solidifying third base, Placido Polanco could rest his aging bones at first base while Ryan Howard recovers from an Achilles tear. Polanco, a productive but injury-prone veteran, would benefit greatly from the addition of Wright. A decreased workload in the field could lead to a major boost in offensive output.
Utley and Polanco could also flip-flop between first and second, giving Utley some valuable relief to his damaged frame. With just one new player, the Phils have given their infield and bench remarkable flexibility. Charlie Manuel has to find a way to keep his aging veterans fresh for the playoffs, and Wright gives them that solution.
Of course, in landing Wright you would most likely say goodbye to team leader Jimmy Rollins. There is only so much money to go around, and this bullpen must be addressed as well. Rollins has been a tremendous player over his career and would be sorely missed.
There are cheaper alternatives out there in free agency. Sadly, none will rival Rollins's skill set and patented J-Rol swagger. At this stage of their careers, though, it appears that Wright is still peaking, and Rollins is trending downwards.
Baseball, like life, is filled with difficult decisions. Ruben Amaro Jr. has done a very good job at making the tough calls. He will have to do so again before the window seals and the curtains are drawn.