2007 Philadelphia Phillies: Season in Review and Off-Season Needs

The 2007 season for the Philadelphia Phillies was turbulent, to say the least, but the end result satisfied fans who have been starving for October baseball for 14 long years. Through multiple injuries to key players, manager Charlie Manuel managed to keep this ball club on the right track right down to the very last day of the regular season. Coupled with the historic collapse of the New York Mets, the Phillies claimed the National League East title for the first time since 1993. However, as luck would have it, they matched up with arguably the hottest team to ever reach the World Series, the Colorado Rockies. Yes, the Colorado Rockies. No matter how many times you think about it, it still does not make sense.

Going into the off-season, the most obvious need for this club is pitching. Starting or relief, they need arms. The rotation is all but set with young ace Cole Hamels, surprise rookie Kyle Kendrick, the ageless one, Jamie Moyer, and the forgettable one, Adam Eaton. Kyle Lohse is a free agent, but would command a very big contract that quite frankly would not be worth investing in from the Phillies stand point. Eaton is the biggest question mark of all. In the first year of a three year 24 million dollar contract, he was arguably the worst starting pitcher in all of baseball in terms of ERA. Whether Eaton’s problems lie in his mechanics or it was a physical problem, something has to be done or else Charlie Manuel better invest in a defibrillator in the dugout for 2008. The name Curt Schilling has been floated about in the rumor mill. Schilling has flirted with the idea of returning to his former team to finish his career. Schilling would bring a strong veteran presence to this rotation. He could take young Kendrick under his wing the way Jamie Moyer has to Hamels. Plus, he knows what it takes to win the big games.

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Relief pitching was a thorn in the Phillies side all season long. Things gotten so dire, that opening day starter, Brett Myers, was moved to the closer role. Myers has all the right stuff to be a reliable big league closer, the problem is getting the game to him at the point where it is not a tight rope walking act. Tom Gordon is throwing with an arm that is hanging by a thread. The only other bright spot in the bullpen was JC Romero, a waiver wire acquisition in June from the Boston Red Sox. Romero had the best relief ERA in the major leagues in 2007. Romero should be priority as far as resigning in-house talent. The name Mariano Rivera has been put into conversation as of late. Acquiring Rivera would be a dream off-season for the Phillies, but it will most likely be only that.

Centerfielder Aaron Rowand will command a big contract on the free agent market, more than likely it will be the kind of money that the Phillies front office will balk at. Rowand is a great clubhouse guy, he gives it a 100 percent every day on the field, but is he worth a long term, big money contract? If the Phillies can persuade him to take somewhere in the neighborhood of three years and $30 million, that would be a bargain. Most likely, he will test the market and be allowed to walk. The Phillies have outfielders Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn to make up for the vacant spot left by Rowand, but general manager Pat Gillick has made it known that if this is the case, they will be in the market for another outfielder.

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Third base has been issue for this club ever since Scott Rolen was traded to St. Louis. This position has become one of the more scrutinized positions on the Phillies ball club. No wonder, there aren’t exactly Mike Schmidt clones walking off the street to fill this position. For the past couple of seasons, it has been a platoon at this position. This year’s edition was that of Greg Dobbs, Wes Helms, and Abraham Nunez. Dobbs can hit, but is a defensive liability. Helms could not seem to do either well in 2007. As for Nunez, he was a defensive replacement late in the game nearly all season long. Nunez has since been released, opening the door for acquiring an every day third baseman. Mike Lowell has been mentioned as just that. Lowell has stated that his intention is to stay in Boston, but Philadelphia is his second choice. That choice may have become a little easier upon the news that the Boston front office is only willing to offer Lowell a two year deal. Lowell would become the closest thing the Phillies would have to a complete third baseman in quite some time. This seems to be the ideal signing for this team, but there are no guarantees in the free agency market.

The Phillies are looking to build upon their success this season with a successful off-season to bolster their chances of returning to the post-season in 2008. However, it uncharacteristic of this front office to spend the big money. They have been labeled as cheap by the media and by the fans as well. This is their chance to prove them all wrong.