Free Agency: Philadelphia Phillies

If you haven’t noticed, the Phillies are ripping up the free agent market!

Will Rollins end up signing in Philly?

The Phillies have various problems to solve before opening day. The void at shortstop with Jimmy Rollins hitting free agency, Ryan Howard out until June with the achilles injury, and age is quickly creeping up on the entire line-up just to name a few. Filling up the payroll with players who aren’t addressing those needs isn’t really what I had in mind. Signing A-holes (like Papelbon) doesn’t mean you’re addressing holes.

Here is what I thought the needs list looked like.

  1. SS – replacing Rollins if he doesn’t resign.
  2. LF – Ibanez is finally gone!
  3. Bullpen – middle relievers
  4. 1B – til Ryan Howard is ready to go

Here is who the Phillies signed so far…

  • Jonathan Papelbon
  • Jim Thome
  • Laynce Nix

Take that Marlins!! We overspent on Papelbon, and signed two bench guys.

Who is out there and available to fill the shoes of Jimmy Rollins at short? How about Jimmy Rollins? With Jose Reyes off the market, there aren’t any players who are improvements over Rollins. The Phillies will most likely have to bite the bullet and give him the contract he seeks.

The Phillies do have some potential options at 1B until Howard returns. One move that actually made sense was trading for Ty Wigginton. His glove isn’t the best, but he can back up the corner infield spots and hit for power. Wiggy can fill in at first with John Mayberry Jr. til Howard is back, keeping some pop in the line-up. I beg Charlie Manuel not to even consider playing Thome at first. Between the Phillies best prospect Dominic Brown and Mayberry Jr, I’m guessing Philly doesn’t see the need to bring in an everyday left fielder? I hope that is not the case. Brown is the cheapest option and is supposed to have a high ceiling, maybe he breaks out this season? I won’t believe it until I see it.

How does Charlie Manuel fit these pieces together to start the season? Who is hitting clean up in this order?

A free agent other than Rollins to keep in mind.

LF Josh Willingham – Makes perfect sense. He can slide into the 4 hole until Ryan Howard is back, then could be that right-handed support for Howard down the stretch.

It doesn’t seem that the Phillies are too concerned with the aging roster. Philadelphia is built to win now. So signing Willingham to a 1 or 2 year deal instead of playing a younger player isn’t out of the question. It would be tough to sign Willingham though if the Phillies were to resign Jimmy Rollins. The Phils spent big over the past couple years, so the budget isn’t as big this off-season. Plus, Philadelphia already spent too much on Papelbon!

There was no reason to bring in Jonathan Papelbon. The Phillies have Antonio Bastardo, and Michael Stutes at the back-end to close out games. Philadelphia only really needed to grab some cheap middle relief. The Papelbon signing leaves the middle of the Phillies order exposed.

There is no doubt the starting pitching is strong on this team with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels. The window for this team is closing though, and Ruben Amaro knows it. Especially if they let Cole Hamels walk at the end of this season.  I can’t imagine he won’t do anything and everything to put Philadelphia in the best possible position to make a run in 2012.

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