The 2011 season was a complete and utter failure for the Philadelphia Phillies, and there will be no two ways about it. Sure, you could point to obvious (and trivial) facts like, for instance, the team had the best record in all of baseball, home field advantage throughout the duration of their postseason, and one of the greatest pitching rotations ever assembled, but in the end, they failed.
The Phillies were build to do one thing, and one thing only: Win the World Series.
Over the last few seasons, they've traded about a dozen top prospects. They've increased the payroll year by year, adding millions of dollars and acquiring prime-time athletes to push the team over the top, but in the long run, they've been no better than they were in 2008.
There is an argument to be made that the Phils' season wasn't a complete failure, but it's just that—an argument. It's time to face the facts. Roy Halladay approved a trade to come to the Phillies because he wants to win a World Series. Ditto for Roy Oswalt. Cliff Lee came back to Philly as a free agent for the same reason.
If you're an honest believer that guys like Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard and Ryan Madson have grown complacent with one ring, it's time to think again. No player that comes to Philadelphia gets away with being complacent, and the Phils' roster houses some of the most competitive guys in all of baseball.
So it's time to stop making excuses, Philly. The 2011 season was a failure.
But the greatest part about baseball, and however dried up and shriveled the old cliche might be, there is always next season. Just days away from free agency's opening salvo, the Phillies already have their eye on the ultimate prize in 2012.
In this slideshow, we'll attempt to take an educated guess at the Phillies' Opening Day roster for the 2012 season, and rank each player's value to the club if it wants to capture its third World Series title. We'll take a few creative leaps—predicting a few free agent signings, perhaps—but all in all, this slide show offers a realistic prediction at the 2012 squad.