I know we should count out ourselves blessed to have watched a team win a World Series so recently. This still sucks though, man. I'm not going to say it wasn't supposed to end like this, because the phrase "supposed to" just doesn't apply to baseball ever. The past few articles on the site have made a great deal of sense: it's incredibly rare to find a team that can put it all together for 162 games and sustain through the next 11+ for several years in a row, and sometimes things don't fall into place the way you think they should. And you can heap blame on many different factors, but at the end of the day, it's still the players' responsibilty. Of course I don't think everything that happened is purely the fault of the Philadelphia Phillies, but they're not going to throw blame at others (a la Tony "Fuckface" La Russa), so neither should we. Recognizing that there are multiple factors at play but the performance of the players is still at the forefront is very important.
I think I'm just more upset at how the town in general is responding to this loss. It seems like everyone has jumped ship and would like to blow up the team (TM). I actually got into it with a friend who argued that we need a Marco Scutaro-type player and then proceeded to tell me Chase Utley sucks now because he only hit 11 home runs this season. He couldn't seem to grasp the concept that Chase Utley without his typical power production is basically Marco Scutaro with increased power, OBP, baserunning and defensive skills. If I hear the word "scrappy" used to describe a player that we should acquire again, I'm going to barf on that person's shoes.
Maybe we could use a few offensive changes. I know a bonafide leadoff hitter would be on the top of my list; Jimmy Rollins, as much as his ego continues to tell him, is not the kind of batter we should have leading off. Maybe Victorino is better suited to it, but I like him behind Ryan Howard. Also, I think the move of Utley to the 2-hole and Pence behind him was a stroke of genius on Charlie's part. I think Hunter Pence really will begin to come into his own here in Philadelphia. We already saw his strikeouts go down and his walk rate rise significantly, and I think it's going to get better. And I am in no way willing to remove Chase from this lineup. 2011 was an aberration by a consistently productive 2nd baseman. If he comes into 2012 healthy and can stay that way, I wouldn't be incredibly surprised to see him match or exceed his 2010 output. And his defense is just to good to throw away on a whim. Even in limited action, his UZR/150 was still the highest in the NL, and 4th overall (Pedroia, Kinsler, and Kendrick were better). Probably the two biggest questions are going to be how to fill Howard's position while he's out, and whether or not we will see Domonic Brown man left field this year. It seems that John Mayberry plays crucial role in the answers to both of these questions, and to be honest, I would love to see what the man we call "ISO-berry" is capable of putting together with a large number of at bats. And yet, I cannot stand to see the so-called "future" of the franchise continue to be tossed around the minors like a utility infielder. I want Brown to play in the bigs. He's learned enough in Triple-A as far as hitting goes. As far as his left-fielding prowess is concerned...well, we dealt with Raul Ibanez for three years, didn't we?
The point I'm trying to make here is, nothing is nearly as bad as everyone seems to want to make it out to be. Even with the likely loss of Roy Oswalt, we still have a deadly rotation with the three aces, an innings eater (when healthy) and a rather impressive (and hopefully regression-proof) rookie, with a serviceable starter in Kendrick playing back-up. The bullpen's going to be fine; an influx of young arms certainly won't hurt, and I truly believe Ryan Madson will be back. As for the offense, we've got the pieces to fill any holes we might have with the exception of third base, but I'd like to think the Polanco can hopefully stave off serious injuries for one more year and give us a .290 or better season along with his impenetrable defensive range. And if we don't have the pieces, we have to money to find someone outside the organization who fits. And I pray to God that we only deal in money instead of prospects this season. If we lose May, Colvin, Valle, James, or any other of our top prospects this offseason, I will march the 600 miles from Charlotte to Philly with a pitchfork in my hand, banging on that front office door and demanding Smuggles's head.
The window's not closed yet. This team is not full of chokers. We're not too old to get the job done. So kill the cliches and just watch some damn baseball.