The 2013 season has gone as many may have expected it to for the Philadelphia Phillies. As loaded as the club is on paper, there’s been little over the last few years to disguise the fact that this team is getting older, both on the mound and in the field.
This year has resulted in the firing of manager Charlie Manuel and the likely shameful departure of Roy Halladay, who will leave as a free agent after an abysmal season. There have been some positives, though, including the hiring of Ryne Sandberg, who looks like the real deal as a manager, and the emergence of young players like Domonic Brown.
However, as this club nears the end of the 2013 season, trying to get as close to finishing .500 as possible (which is completely unlikely), general manager Ruben Amaro faces some pretty big questions with this roster heading into the winter.
Is this a team in need of a complete overhaul, or should they give this current, but aging core, one more season? There has been a bit of an influx of youth for the Phillies throughout the year, but this is still a team relying on a bunch of 30-somethings, many of them with a recent history of injury problems.
The middle infield duo of Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins will both be 35 next year. However, Utley recently signed an extension and has had a very good second half of the year. No one knows what the future holds for Rollins or Ryan Howard. On the mound, Cliff Lee is 35, but still extremely effective.
There’s no doubt the Phillies are getting old. It’s been the case for the last few years. But when healthy, this is still a roster capable of making some noise. A healthy infield of Howard, Utley, and Rollins, in addition to youngsters like Brown and Darin Ruf have the ability to make some noise offensively.
On the mound, Lee and Cole Hamels still headline the rotation. Jonathan Papelbon isn’t the dominant closer he once was, but is still effective. On paper, this is a team that can contend for a wild card spot, at the very least. It’ll require a healthy season, though.
Whether or not Amaro wants to take that chance and bank on a healthy season, or overhaul remains to be seen. There is an argument to be made in favor of either one. Amaro isn’t exactly a guy that is easy to read, meaning the Phillies will head into the winter with some pretty serious intrigue surrounding their club.