I'm not going to dwell on the Phillies playoff misery. I could spend multiple posts whining about the lack of hitting, Charlie Manuel, etc., but I would rather look forward. This offseason is one of the most important in recent history for the Phighting Phils. They need to build on an already talented team with a focus on certain problem areas (pitching, anyone.) At the point they are now, they can't afford to not move forward. It is rare to have three MVP quality players on a team at once (unless you are the Yankees...) and to not do everything to improve the pitching would be a crime against the fans and the city and maybe even baseball itself.
Throughout the offseason, we'll have rumors, projections, trade/free agent suggestions, etc., but before we can look forward to changes, we have to look and see what the Phils have already for the 2008 season. (Note: This isn't heavily (or at all) researched, so the contract info may be sketchy...)
Catcher - Carlos Ruiz is poised to do the majority of the catching. The club has a $5 million option on Rod Barajas for next year or a 500K buyout. There hasn't been an easier decision since the judge gave the kids to K-Fed. Barajas is gone. Coste isn't arbitration eligible yet, so he can be had for cheap to backup.
First Base - Ryan Howard is not arbitration ready, so his contract can be renewed again. Last year he got the record for a player with less than 2 years of service time. There will be a big push to lock him up with a long term deal this summer, although another big renewal is very much a possibility. We'll have more on this in the coming months.
Second Base - Chase Utley is signed through '13, and makes a bargain priced $7.5 million next year.
Shortstop - Speaking of bargains, NL MVP Jimmy Rollins makes $7 million next year with a max salary of $8.5 in '11.
Third Base - Abraham Nunez is gone. GONE!!!!! Yipppeeeeee!!!!! What? Club option? Aw, crap. Dear tiny Baby Jesus, or as our brothers to the south call you Jésus, lying there in your little ghost manger, lookin' at your Baby Einstein developmental videos, learnin' 'bout shapes and colors, please don't allow Abraham Nunez to come back to Philadelphia... Wes Helms has a guaranteed contract for '08, so unless they just eat the contract and release him (nodding head in approval), he'll be back. As will backup Greg Dobbs, whose contract they can renew.
Left Field - Pat Burrell is in the last year of his contract, so at this point he's locked in.
Center / Right Field - You may not have heard, but Aaron Rowand, with all of his intangibles, is a free agent. Jayson Werth is also a free agent. Shane Victorino and Michael Bourn are back with contract renewals, along with Chris Roberson and TJ Bohn if you cared.
So, if the season started today, this would be the lineup:
1. Rollins - SS
2. Bourn - CF
3. Utley - 2B
4. Howard - 1B
5. Burrell - LF
6. Victorino - RF
7. Helms - 3B
8. Ruiz - C
Tomorrow, the pitching staff.