"Okay guys let's get tw.....Frandsen, could I see your invitation to the mound meeting?" Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

The Horrible Things That Happened at Our House: a 2012 Phillies Epilogue, Pt. 1

The first half of the season was a soul-crushing exercise in futility and frustration. The middle of the season was punctuated by an admittance that all was lost, when the Phillies sold Hunter Pence and Shane Victorinio at the trade deadline. The last half of the season filled us all with false hope.

All in all, 2012 was kind of a ramrod up the kiester. Injuries left us wandering in a Chase Utley-less wilderness, left to fend for ourselves without Chase Utley to guide us and protect us, without Chase Utley doing Chase Utley-like things to keep us warm and safe. Ryan Howard came back to hit a few home runs, but looked bad upon his return for most of the second half. Roy Halladay was a shell of himself, with worries that he’s now either seriously hurt, or all those innings he’s piled up over the last few years have turned him into Joe Blanton.

However, I’m more inclined to think that 2012 will be this generation’s 1979. After winning three straight division titles in 1976, ’77 and ’78, the Phils fell apart in 1979, thanks mainly to injury issues. The next year, the Phils bounced back to win the World Series. If the Phillies conduct a smart offseason plan and utilize the young bullpen arms and talent at their disposal, there’s a really good chance that 2012 will be just a speedbump on their way to a successful 2013.

Non-Chooch MVP 

It’s important this category be phrased non-Chooch MVP, because my wife’s baseball boyfriend was friggin’ awesome. But if I can’t pick Chooch, then I’ll go with Cole Hamels. Not only did Hamels have a kick ass year on the mound (17-6, 3.05 ERA, second best of his career, with 216 Ks 52 BBs and an ERA+ of 131), but he also signed a six year, $144 million contract extension. Hamels never let his contract status or the trade rumors swirling around him to get in the way of being ridiculously good on the field.

Most “2012 Phillies” Moment of the Year

Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

May 2nd, Phils vs. Braves

Roy Halladay had one of his “2012 Roy Halladay Specials,” pitching 5 1/2 innings, giving up eight earned runs on 12 hits. The Phils led 6-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth until Halladay gave up six runs to tie the game, then coughed up another two runs in the sixth to give Atlanta an 8-6 lead.

Still, the Phils fought back, scoring three in the seventh and three in the eigth to take the lead back 12-8. Of course, as happened so often throughout the season, the late inning bullpen arms couldn’t hold the lead. Jose Contreras and Michael Schwimer combined to give up five runs in the bottom of the eighth to give Atlanta a 13-12 lead.

The Phillies then fought back one more time, scoring a single run in the ninth to tie the game at 13, sending it into extra innings. In the bottom of the 11th, Chipper Jones smoked a two-run, walk-off homer off reliever Brian Sanches to give Atlanta a 15-13 win.

This loss had everything. A terribly ineffective Roy Halladay, a frantic comeback by a makeshift Phils’ offense, a tremendous offensive game by Carlos Ruiz (3-5, with a home rung, two doubles and 7 RBIs) and a tremendous late-game choke job by the bullpen. The Jones homer was just the perfect embodiement of a 2012 season that blew monkey chunks.

The Big Offseason Move the Phils Should Make

Howard Smith–AP

Sign Angel Pagan to play center field and hit leadoff. The Phillies are going to get a center fielder, of that there is no doubt. And there are some really glitzy names Amaro could pursue: Michael Bourn, B.J. Upton, Josh Hamilton and Shane Victorino just to name a few.

However, all of those guys have huge drawbacks. Bourn is a good leadoff hitter and should be for years to come, but he’s represented by Scott Boras and is likely to ask for a huge contract that will not equal the production he is likely to provide. Hamilton has too many demons and is too injury prone to risk spending the $20 million a year it’s going to take to get him. Upton has a lot of upside, power and speed to burn, but is terrible at getting on base and strikes out a ton.

And Victorino, well, we all know what Shane brings to the table, and I think we all can agree it’s time to move on.

Pagan, however, can probably be had for a three or four year deal at about $7-8 million a year. I’ll get more into Pagan in a future blog, but suffice it to say, I’d rather have his .289/.339/.441 slash line, his .780 OPS, his OPS+ of 122, his league-leading 15 triples, his 38 doubles, his 8 HRs, 95 runs scored and 29 stolen bases instead. He’d cost less than most of those other options and provide exactly the type of offensive production the Phillies would need.

Big Offseason Move They Should NOT Make For the Love of God 

Well, I probably would avoid signing another $10 million a year closer.

Other than that, signing Josh Hamilton to a huge mega deal would be a mistake. Look if the Phils can somehow snare Hamilton on a three or four-year deal for about $15 million a year, then I’d at least think about it. But someone is going to sign Hamilton to a five or six-year deal worth over $20 million a season.

The Phils already have way too many players on the wrong side of 30 years old earning that kind of money. They don’t need to be ADDING more of those guys. Hamilton’s just too undependable, unpredictable and injury prone to be trusted for that kind of money.

Projected 2013 Opening Day Lineup

Wishful thinking 2013 opening day lineup:

  • CF Angel Pagan
  • RF Domonic Brown
  • 2B Chase Utley
  • 1B Ryan Howard
  • C Carlos Ruiz
  • SS Jimmy Rollins
  • LF Darin Ruf/Nate Schierholtz
  • 3B Jeff Keppinger

Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Here’s what the Phillies will probably do:

  • CF Michael Bourn
  • SS Jimmy Rollins
  • 2B Chase Utley
  • 1B Ryan Howard
  • C Carlos Ruiz
  • RF Domonic Brown,
  • LF Darin Ruf/Laynce Nix
  • 3B Jeff Keppinger

Yes, that’s right. More Laynce Nix. Sigh.

John Stolnis (@FelskeFiles)

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