It’s never to early to start thinking about next year where the Phillies are concerned.
Mercifully, Paul Abbott has been designated for assignment. He is to be commended for playing the role of sacrificial lamb so well. Kevin Millwood and Billy Wagner, both on the DL, may never throw another pitch between them in Philadelphia. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, guys. Wagner, in particular, is the most selfish player to don a Phillies uniform in memory. Roberto Hernandez will not be with the Phillies next year, a decision that will be made in the best interests of his health as well as ours. Doug Glanville will depart at the end of the season, too. One suspects he will return in some management or coaching capacity. Regrettably, Placido Polanco may also move on.
Of those who will remain, David Bell’s ongoing health issues remain a very large concern. Pat Burrell’s recovery from wrist surgery is merely one of many concerns regarding the one-time wunderkind. Marlon Byrd remains a project at best. Ryan Madson should make a full recovery from shagging fly balls. Mike Lieberthal appears to be in decline. His replacement plays for Atlanta, thank you very much.
Tim Worrell has failed to show he is capable of assuming the role of closer. The rest of the relief corps appears to be adequate at best. Randy Wolf, Vicente Padilla, Eric Milton and Brett Myers are a talented and very capable starting foursome. Wolf and Myers must step up and achieve their potentials next season; Padilla has to stay healthy, something he has not been able to do in the past; Milton has to repeat his performance with perhaps a few less home run balls thrown.
Jimmy Rollins and Bobby Abreu still have weaknesses in their otherwise excellent games, but there seems to be little evidence they can correct them. Rollins has to be a more patient hitter; he also must convince himself finally he isn’t a home run threat. Abreu should spend more time learning to play balls hit to the wall. He is unlikely to do so but one can ask.
Chase Utley is likely to blossom, his future bright. Jim Thome. What can one say? Let us hope he remains healthy.
Larry Bowa and most of his coaches, especially Joe Kerrigan, should be the first casualties of the off-season. House cleaning, after all, begins at the office.