The Penalty Box

Justin Franiak, Asst. Sports Editor

Another year has gone by with no World Series ring and more questions than answers. The 102 franchise record in wins, arguably the best pitching staff in the league, and two former MVP’s means nothing if you can’t sport around another World Series t-shirt. A city left in heartbreak, NLCS tickets that were sold but now are worth nothing, the championship caps with a Phillies logo on it now disappearing into the trash, and here Philadelphia sits wondering what happened. We were supposed to win the World Series, we were supposed to cruise through the playoffs, and this was OUR year.  But in the end, I come back to what I’m used to, disappointment.
Every year I hold onto hope and become extremely optimistic.  I go out and buy my new shirts with clever sayings like “Pence-sylvania” or “Choooooch.” I search StubHub for deals on playoff tickets; I then try to convince my parents to buy them for me. I go back in my mind and remember my first ball game at Veterans Stadium. I never forget standing in line for hours to get an autograph from some no-name player. My mind flashes back to 2008 where anyone could have found me in tears sprinting down my friend’s street with nothing but my underwear on. The Phillies are my team, they are THE team; but again here I am wondering. I now have to sit around for the rest of the playoffs and ponder what is next. Changes need to be made, players need to be signed, and surgeries are to be performed. What’s next for the Phillies? As a fan all I can do is offer my opinions.
In what may be one of the most crucial offseason for any Philadelphia team, some tough decisions need to be made. The first is the signing or non-signing of Jimmy Rollins. Jimmy Rollins IS the Phillies. The former MVP wants to stay in Philly, but publicly has said that there is no hometown discount. J-Roll is also commanding a 5-year deal.
I believe the Phillies are not comfortable with that time span and will counter with a 3-year offer.
The 32-year-old’s offensive skills may have been lacking this regular season, but proved to be very valuable when it came playoff time. -teresting. The recently ruptured Achilles’ Tendon of Howard potentially leaves the Phillies without their $125 million man for awhile.  They may have to keep Jimmy and hope his production goes up in order to pick up the slack left behind by Ryan Howard. Rollins also has the leadership qualities that any coach would want in the locker room, and this makes him almost invaluable
The Phillies also have the option of signing Raul Ibanez to another few years. The 39-year-old had a decent season, but again is 39. I believe the Phillies have enough confidence in John Mayberry Jr. to step in and fill the left field spot for next year. If he doesn’t get the job done, they do have the option of plugging in the highly praised prospect of Dominic Brown
Pitching wise the Phillies have some tough decisions to make. Brad Lidge has an $11.5 million option that the Phillies could pick up, but shouldn’t. He is not “Lights Out” Lidge from 2008, but he did however prove he can still pitch this year. He fit in nicely as a late inning guy in front of closer Ryan Madson, who is also set to be a free agent. I am a huge Ryan “Mad Dawg” Madson fan and it has been fun watching him develop over the last few years. Madson will receive tons of offers from other teams as he has proved to be a very good closer. If Madson walks to another team, I would not be surprised if the Phillies pursue a guy like Heath Bell, who they had interest in around the trade deadline. Roy Oswalt will also be let go.  Oswalt has a $16 million option on his contract, but has been inconsistent this year, and considering the amount of starting pitching on the Phillies, he will most likely be let go. Be prepared to see Rookie of the Year candidate Vance Worley take over the fourth starting pitcher spot. The last move the Phillies have to and need to make is sign Cole Hamels. The former World Series MVP had another stellar season behind Roy and Cliff. He went 14-9 and had a career low ERA of 2.79, and had the best season of his career. His contract expires soon and I expect the Phillies to push hard to try and resign the right hander.
This offseason will be very interesting again for the Phillies. It’s starting to become a trend where the offseason is stellar, but I am again left in disappointment. I’m still holding onto hope, and I’m optimistic this aging team has something left in the tank. Either way, there’s always next year.