The Phillies won the NL East in 2011 before being upset in the playoffs to the eventual NL Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Despite having one of the better rotations in all of baseball, the team just didn’t have enough to make it back to the World Series after being the favorites for much of the season.
Their year also ended on a sour note, with the injury to first baseman Ryan Howard. We still don’t know exactly how long Howard’s recovery will take but many believe that at the earliest we’ll see him back in action come late April. It seems possible the Phillies could be without their star slugger until just before the All Star Break, meaning they’ll likely need to look into addressing first base this winter.
Next up on the Phillies’ agenda has to be to address the free agency of shortstop Jimmy Rollins. His case is relatively similar to that of Reyes – valuable shortstop, spend his whole career with the team, future remains uncertain. Also like Reyes, I don’t see Rollins as a target of the Nationals this winter so this discussion won’t necessarily affect the Washington offseason much. But it will still be an interesting case to watch. Should Rollins leave, don’t be surprised to see the Phillies take a run at Boston’s Marco Scutaro. They’ve been linked to him in the past and while it seems likely that Boston will exercise their option on Scutaro, he doesn’t necessarily profile as a long term solution for the Red Sox meaning he could be available.
An additional outfielder will also be on the team’s offseason list, as well as some bench help. There has to be hope that Chase Utley will bounce back and the continued development of John Mayberry will be key. Domonic Brown was a big disappointment in 2011 but if he can progress in 2012 that will also be a big boost.
Pitching will also need to be addressed, though the rotation seems largely set. The Phillies will on the be look out for bullpen help and potentially a closer, pending whether they resign Ryan Madson. Brad Lidge has already seen his option declined but there are reports that the team is interested in bringing him back under more team friendly parameters.
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