The Phillies on Monday night started their 106th different lineup this season and will head into the offseason looking to shore up what's been a messy and juggled roster in 2013. (AP)
In case you missed it on Labor Day, the Phillies unveiled their 106th different lineup of the season. It is a far cry from the powerhouse lineups they put out there just a few years ago:
1. Cesar Hernandez, CF
2. Jimmy Rollins, SS
3. Chase Utley, 2B
4. Carlos Ruiz, C
5. Kevin Frandsen, 1B
6. Pete Orr, 3B
7. John Mayberry, LF
8. Roger Bernadina, RF
9. Cole Hamels, P
Hernandez, 23, was the eighth different centerfielder for the Phillies this season, which evidences one of the many problems facing the club this season.
Since Ben Revere went down with a fractured foot in mid-July, the Phillies have struggled mightily to find a reliable answer in center and a spark plug at the top of the order. Revere had a slow start this season but his presence in the lineup was a definite factor before he went down with an injury.
Revere talked on Monday about being given the green light to start hitting in the cage (see video). You have to like his enthusiasm.
Looking ahead to 2014, with Revere healthy, Domonic Brown in left and possibly Darin Ruf in right, are the Phillies stable in the outfield? Seems like the club was in the same position last offseason. With Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard all coming back, it appears Cody Asche is the only change in the infield. The Phillies will have to make a decision on Carlos Ruiz, but the pitching staff clearly missed him behind the plate when he served his suspension to open the season.
If my assumptions are correct, the only significant change for next season will be pitching.
The Phillies are taking a flyer on hard-throwing Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, whom they signed to a three-year, $12 million contract. Gonzalez is projected as a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. Cole Hamels pitched a gem on Monday night against Stephen Strasburg (see story). Hamels and Cliff Lee need to rebound from sub-par records in 2013 and carry the Phillies in 2014. Then there's the question of what becomes of Roy Halladay.
It seems like every year the Phillies' bullpen needs to be reworked, and this offseason is no different.
With six players added to the roster via September call-ups on Monday, we will see plenty of young prospects in the final month of the season.
Ruben Amaro Jr. has taken his share of criticism for the downturn of the ballclub over the last two seasons, and frankly, I’m not sure what the Phillies' general manager can do to change this franchise's fortunes next year.
It can be done: The Red Sox reinvented themselves after a great run followed by a sudden decline. Why can’t the Phillies do the same?
It begins with Amaro making the right moves this offseason, or else we’ll see more lineups like the one we saw Monday night.