The Philadelphia Phillies are in the landscaping business right now. They don’t have the financial flexibility of digging up the front yard and putting in Astroturf, but they can trim some of the bushes and remove some of the weeds in order to complete a presentable façade.
The first clip came on Friday when ex-manager Charlie Manuel was dumped in favor of Ryne Sandberg. The Phillies have to hope right now that Roy Halladay, who pitched a rehab assignment for the Gulf Coast (Fla.) Phillies Single-A affiliate last week, can show them enough over the final month of the season for them to agree to pay his option year.
The plan includes the hope that Sandberg can actually breathe a little life into this team over the balance of the season, enough to be rehired next year.
They also have to hope that first baseman Ryan Howard, who GM Ruben Amaro said “has lost 15 to 20 pounds” since going on the DL, continues his strenuous workout regime. Beyond hope, though, they can let third baseman Michael Young walk at the end of the season, freeing up $16 million that can be dedicated to fixing the back end of the bullpen. They can re-sign Mike Adams to help with the eighth inning and get some proven veteran arms as left- or right-handed specialists.
Then they can let catcher Carlos Ruiz, who has not been the same hitter post-PED suspension, walk in favor of upgrading the offense with a free-agent catcher signing like Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves.
They are locked into long-term deals with shortstop Jimmy Rollins, second baseman Chase Utley and Howard, but third baseman Cody Asche looks like a real improvement both offensively and defensively for next year. They still need at least one dependable right-handed bat off the bench and probably have the money to make all of those moves.
It might not become the best front yard in town next season, but it’s certainly a lot more presentable than unsightly one they have now.