For better or for worse, General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is a man who can get things done. Whether or not what gets done is the right move is irrelevant at times, because for all the Ryan Howard extensions and Hunter Pence trades he's made, he's been instrumental in transforming this also-ran into a bonafide powerhouse contender with a budget that is big enough to lure most players.
Because of that, the Phillies have been able to acquire the likes of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon -- among others -- whereas in the past, they wouldn't necessarily have been able to. And coming off a .500 season that didn't include a trip to the postseason, one wonders what Amaro will do to get the team back to its winning ways, especially in light of the fact that the Washington Nationals appear to be a serious contender.
In truth, there isn't a lot that he can do. There is a lot that he should do, and a lot that I wish he would do, but he is a bit hamstrung thanks to bloated contracts, a maxed-out payroll and a farm system that is far too thin to effectively maneuver in the trade market.
We'll go into further detail over the next two weeks as we break it down by position, but in short, a good chunk of the team could use a gutting. From top to bottom, some big changes could stand to be made; if only Amaro had the opportunity or resources to make them.
First, the offense needs to be retooled. With the exception of Domonic Brown (who figures to be the starting left fielder in 2013), John Mayberry Jr. (who might have a starting job), and Freddy Galvis (who could factor into the hunt for a third baseman) -- every other starter is over 30. And although Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz figure to be effective enough, the grim reality is that the offense is old and creaky, and they don't have a lot of youth to fill out the rest of the ranks.
Second, the starting pitching next year could be a legitimate concern. The Phillies have been very fortunate over the last few years as it pertains to their rotation, but like the offense, age and injuries have -- and could continue to -- take their toll. Roy Halladay had one of the worst years of his career in 2012, and you have to wonder if the ace simply fell prey to a nagging injury, or if the wear and tear of a long and storied career has finally caught up to him.
Third, the bullpen...the bullpen might be OK. With Papelbon as capable as they come at the end of games, the Phils have a ton of young, talented arms that can spell trouble for opposing hitters in the late innings. While they might add an arm or two for the sake of experience, this is the one area that the Phillies don't really need to do much work.
With the start of free agency still a ways away, there is plenty of time to ruminate on what is sure to be a busy offseason for Amaro and company.