Unlike the Yankees and Mets, who are making blockbuster moves go out of style, the Phillies are taking care of business in a more subtle way before the holidays.
A few weeks ago the Phillies signed Raul Ibanez to replace Pat Burrell and be their everyday left fielder. The deal was finalized today. This deal is an intriguing one, and whether it's a good or bad move cannot be properly determined until we have numbers to compare between the two players and the teams each respectively are with next season.
Personally I feel Burrell should have been retained, if only for his right-handed power bat, for at least one more season. Although Ibanez does hit for a better average and has much better defensive prowess. At this time I'd consider Ibanez an upgrade; however, the lineup is more unbalanced to the left side from this move.
Within this past week the Phillies have re-signed veteran Jamie Moyer and also tendered a contract to Chan Ho Park.
Retaining Moyer was a serious need to Philadelphia fans. Jamie does three things for Philadelphia, provide wins, eat innings, and act as a secondary pitching coach. Moyer is invaluable to this team and would have been a terrible loss if he ended up somewhere else.
Chan Ho Park is another intriguing signing. In recent years Park has been mainly a reliever, and an effective one at times. He decided to sign with the Phillies because they recently won the World Championship and because they are offering him an opportunity to start games.
If Park is to become a starter for the Phillies in '09, he'll have to win the fifth spot in the rotation away from talented pitchers such as Kyle Kendrick, JA Happ, Adam Eaton, and Carlos Carrasco. While there is certainly a possibility he could do that, I wouldn't be surprised to find Park in the Phillies' bullpen at the beginning of the '09 season.
The first four spots in the Phillies rotation, barring any spring training injuries or holiday season bar fights, are locked down with Cole Hamels, Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, and Joe Blanton taking the ball respectively every fifth day.
Much of the Phillies '08 World Championship squad will be back in '09. The bullpen will be virtually the same, as will the rotation. The lineup also will be mostly the same, with the only question marks being where Manuel decides to plug Ibanez in and how quickly Utley can return to the lineup healthy and productive.
All in all, the '09 season should be highly entertaining for the defending World Champs and the possibility for a repeat is certainly there.