The Phillies have been perennial contenders for years now, and this shows no sign of abating. They hit a ton, they’ve got what is still arguably the best pitching staff in baseball (even with the loss of free agent Roy Oswalt), and they know how to win. They are scrappy, they can win by the home run, and they will always be in ball games thanks to their starters. It’s hard to find a chink in their armor. Out went discovery closer Ryan Madson in favor of the pricy but dominant Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who will indeed be an upgrade and will fit right in with the battle-scarred warriors from Philadelphia. Their biggest recent acquisition was made mid-season, with the trade for Hunter Pence, who should roam RF for years to come if they wisely lock him up. Shane Victorino might be in his last season in Philadelphia, because the money he’s looking for simply doesn’t match his numbers. LF remains a question, without an established starter there—just about the only place where the Phillies could improve. Resigning Jimmy Rollins was a popular move, and his value is greater in Philly than anywhere else. Charlie Manuel and his men have done it before and will continue to rock it.
In: Jonathan Papelbon (free agent), Ty Wigginton (free agent)
Out: Ryan Madson (free agent), Roy Oswalt (free agent), Raul Ibanez (free agent)
Strength: the rotation remains immense. They have three aces in Halladay, Lee, and Hamels, and two sold #2/3 pitchers in Worley and Blanton. No worries there. Papelbon is the best closer since Mariano Rivera, and we know that the Phillies can mash.
Weakness: aside from the question mark of LF, there’s little to worry about. The team must simply remain healthy and do what they’ve been doing for years, and you’ll see them in the playoffs.
Manager: Charlie Manuel
Projected Rotation: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, Vance Worley
Projected Closer: Jonathan Papelbon
Projected Starting Lineup:
Jimmy Rollins SS
Shane Victorino CF
Chase Utley 2B
Ryan Howard 1B
Hunter Pence RF
Placido Polanco 3B
Carlos Ruiz C
John Mayberry Jr. LF