How the Philadelphia Phillies Can Improve in 2013
As the 2012 season comes to a close, the Philadelphia Phillies are getting ready to make some crucial decisions about the upcoming season. These are the choices that may have a significant impact on the team’s ability to make it to the 2013 baseball season playoffs. I evaluated the team’s current roster and noted some of their top positional needs: namely the positions of outfielder and third baseman. The decisions the Philadelphia Phillies make in regard to these positions will have long-lasting effects on the team’s playoff potential in the upcoming season.
Bring in a Strong Outfielder for the 2013 Baseball Season
Defense, particularly in the outfield, is the biggest area that the Phillies could improve in the 2013 baseball season. Michael Bourn is one player that could have a tremendous impact – however, even though he would be a great recruit, the Philadelphia Phillies simply may not be able to afford him for the next season. Bourn, who turns 30 this December, is currently an outfielder with the Atlanta Braves. The Phillies already have several aging players with declining abilities, and there is some concern that Bourn, a speed player, could be beginning to slow down in his career.
While Bourn hasn’t made a statement as to whether he would consider playing for the Philadelphia Phillies, he and his agent, Scott Boras, have decided to hold off on in-season negotiations with the Braves. Bourn has stated that he would prefer to wait until the end of the season to discuss his situation at all. Though there is no question that the Braves would also love to re-sign Bourn, he may end up being out of their price range. This would make him more available to play for the Philadelphia Phillies again, and his defensive capabilities would likely be a game-changer in the 2013 baseball season.
There has been some talk about center-fielder B.J. Upton potentially signing on with the Philadelphia Phillies for the 2013 baseball season. However, he may not be the best fit for the team. Although Upon showed a lot of potential early in his career, he has since been very inconsistent with his gameplay results. He has unremarkable defensive abilities in center field, his strike-out average is high and he doesn’t typically walk as much as he should. In the past, others have even gone so far as to question his personality and commitment to the game. The Phillies usually avoid signing players who aren’t committed to baseball.
To build the best team for the 2013 baseball season, the Phillies shouldn’t plan on spending more money in order to sign a player who isn’t truly invested – one who has a ton of potential, but struggles with trying to find ways to live up to it, especially considering the cost of players such as Upton. A player of similar caliber, John Mayberry Jr., is already playing with the Philadelphia Phillies, and he is much less expensive than Upton would be.
Changes on Third Base
In the third baseman position, there are many changes that the Philadelphia Phillies could make to improve their chances in the 2013 baseball season playoffs. Replacing Placido Polanco would be a good first step toward streamlining the team. Although he has been a fine player for the Phillies, his best days seem to be behind him. Retaining Kevin Fransden for a bench spot next season is a possibility; however, even though he was sensational in August, he has a low home-run average for his overall career. Nevertheless, he is well-known for his energetic play, which is something the Philadelphia Phillies could use.
Twenty-two-year-old Cody Asche is another solid third base prospect. Currently playing for the Double-A Reading Phillies, he could be a valuable third baseman for the 2013 baseball season, especially if the position was fixed through a one-year, stop-gap measure. Alternatively, Darin Ruf, a minor league home run champion for this season, has joined the Phillies major league club. The 26-year-old broke the former 2004 record of 37 home runs this season, and is the Eastern League MVP. And while manager Charlie Manuel will spend some time determining whether Ruf fits into the team long-term, after reviewing Ruf’s capabilities, it may become clear that he is more suited to play either first base or left field instead of third.
In my opinion, the best third base option for the Philadelphia Phillies would be Chase Headley, currently with the San Diego Padres. He was made available this season before the trade deadline, but with an asking price that was too high for the Philadelphia Phillies to meet. With the Padres looking to rebuild, he will most likely be made available again during the offseason. Headley, who was named National League Player of the Month in August, has had a career year and will be heading into his prime in the 2013 baseball season. If he is made available in this off-season, he would be an ideal candidate, but it is unclear if the Phillies will be able to offer the Padres what they are hoping to acquire in exchange.
Can We Improve in the Next Season?
Switching out even a few players can make a world of a difference. And this past season, the Philadelphia Phillies have shown that they have a weak defense, especially with the current players in the outfield and on third base. While there are several prospects, none are a perfect fit as far as age, ability and cost are concerned. But with the right mix of new teammates, the Phillies could have a much better chance of making it to the playoffs in the 2013 baseball season.