The release of OF Delmon Young will clear up some room for the Phillies to look towards 2014. 3B Michael Young could be traded, but if not he will probably not play too much during the month of September. The Phillies have spent a considerable amount of money in payroll over the past several seasons, and have a lot of money allocated to 1B, 2B, SS, the starting pitching staff and the bullpen. A positive sign has been the chance OF Darin Ruf and 3B Cody Asche have gotten to play as well as middle infielder Cesar Hernandez. Pitching prospect Ethan Martin has gotten a chance to start, with RHP Jesse Biddle on the way. A prospective 2014 roster could reasonably include this year's players plus some of their younger players. A case could be made that the Phillies can put together their 2014 roster with what they have right now.
Ryan Howard will play 1B next season, as long he is healthy. Utley will be at 2B, with Jimmy Rollins playing SS and Asche projected to be the starting 3B. Domonic Brown, who has been the Phillies best offensive player this season, will be playing LF, with a healthy Ben Revere returning to CF and Ruf the favorite to play RF. While the Phillies should be in the market for a proven MLB catcher, Tommy Joseph still looms as a possibility to come up and start for Philadelphia. Carlos Ruiz is unlikely to be retained. With top pitchers Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels projected to anchor the rotation, the Phillies may be ready to include Biddle and Martin as 4th and 5th starters. Of course, the team still has Kyle Kendrick, Jonathan Pettibone and Adam Morgan as options as well. From what we here, there is still a very good possibility that the Phillies may re-sign Roy Halladay to a team friendly contract. Obviously, if his arm woes are behind him, that keeps the Phillies still formidable in the starting five. The bullpen will likely include both Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Adams, as they are both signed for next season, and Antonio Bastardo, who will return from his 50 games PED suspension.
The bench probably will include John Mayberry Jr, Hernandez and Freddy Galvis with the bullpen including RHP Justin De Fratus. That is a 1-8 in the lineup, plus three bench players, five starters and four relievers. Assume the Phillies bring in a catcher from another organization, that leaves 6 projected roster spots for GM Ruben Amaro to address for the 2014 season. And the only positions up for grabs are two catchers another bench spot and four middle relievers. That is, of course, if the team plans to keep Rollins, Revere and Brown, start Ruf, Asche, Biddle and Martin and bring back Halladay.
Could the Phillies bring back nearly the same team they have this season? If so, it is a tall order to expect a big difference in overall team performance. Or is it? If Halladay, Howard and Revere all return healthy, the team looks a lot different. Based on history, teams that hit struggles similar to what the Phillies have should look to shake the team up a little bit. Rollins has said he would veto any trade, Howard is untradable and the Phillies have little to no interest in moving either Hamels or Lee. And if you bring in another player, where does he play? Maybe a RF, but that will relegate Ruf to a bench role. They can bring in a 3B, but that will keep them from seeing what they have in Asche. Could they move Revere or Brown? Possibly, but what they get in return has to significantly improve the face of this team. And if they do, it will be fought with negative sentiment from its fan base. Maybe they convince Rollins to accept a trade to another team.
Having a good combination of veterans and young players sounds like a good thing for the Phillies going into next season. The only issue I see is that it leaves few offseason moves the Phillies can make to seriously impact their team. They will need to rely on the guys that are on the roster, both youngsters and veterans, and hope it translates on the field. If it doesn't, it may be time to break the whole thing down and start over. If it works out, however, it will break a trend that has gone on in baseball for a while. Teams that have a bad season usually make significant changes to their roster. Most teams that do not, do not turn it around. It will be interesting to see if the Phillies can rebound from a down season by essentially keeping their roster the same.