I've never been big on New Year's resolutions. I always figured, if it was something I really wanted to change about myself, I would have either started it already, or not worried about waiting until January 1 to do it.
I know I need to eat better. I know I need to exercise. I know I need to be nicer to my cats and Delmon Young. There are many areas of my life in which I need to improve, and I don't feel like I needed to wait until 2014 to do it.
That said, the new year can be a good time for a person to change some things about themselves and start fresh.
The Philadelphia Phillies are no different.
Of course, Phils players, coaches and management aren't going to tell ME what their New Year's resolutions are. So, I'm just going to have to guess what they are for you, the Good Phight blog consumer.
Ruben Amaro - More Graphic Calculators For Everyone!
We don't really know what the Phils' new "analytics guy" Scott Freedman is doing right now. Is he taking out the garbage and making coffee, or is he becoming a semi-important voice in the Phils' front office? It has been mentioned on this site that the signing of Roberto Hernandez may have been a sign that the Phillies were starting to listen to someone involved in analytics, or maybe even more than just one someone, as they make decisions this off-season...
"We think Roberto Hernandez will help us," Amaro said. "Our scouts and our analytics people looked at the middle-of-the-road, back-end starters and we felt like he would be a good choice for us."
It would be encouraging if Amaro really was using the plural form of the word "person" on purpose. However, the Phillies could always add more numbers guys and, hey, maybe even a whole department dedicated to this kind of stuff! That would be a capital idea for 2014.
Ryne Sandberg - Get Shifty
Most teams in baseball use defensive shifts to their advantage, yet we rarely see it from the Phillies. Why haven't they done it more? Again, much of it goes back to their refusal to use analytic data. However, when Sandberg took over late last year, we did see the Phils start to shift a little bit more.
Maybe they were scared off from shifting after the nightmare scenario that played out in Game 4 of the 2009 World Series (the Johnny Damon Game).
Yeah, that would be enough to scare anyone off of defensive shifting, which is probably what happened to Charlie Manuel. Still, the Phils could save themselves more than a few runs this year by looking at hitter data and shifting infielders a little more often. After all, they've seen what it has done to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard's numbers.
Ryan Howard - Video Saved The Baseball Star
Sandberg let it be known at the end of last year that there was more Ryan Howard could do to get better in 2014. One of those things was for the big man to start looking at video a bit more. It's astonishing that, given his struggles in recent years, Howard hasn't been utilizing this fairly common tool, but there it is. Hopefully, 2014 will see a Ryan Howard that is a little more willing to watch some tape and maybe a little more willing to listen to one of the 16 hitting coaches not named Wally Joyner currently employed by the Phillies.
Chase Utley - Keep Those Knees in One Piece
There's not a whole lot more Utley can do on the field. Although he'll never be the .300 hitter he once was, and he's not going to bomb 25-30 HRs, he's he's still among the top 5 second basemen in baseball and is the straight-up balls. So, all we need 'ol Chase to do is to keep those knees encased in bubble wrap for a couple more years, and all will be right with the world.
Dom Brown - Troll Eagles Fans Even Harder
You gotta love Dom Brown.
Congrats to the eagles .— Domonic Brown (@dom9brown) December 30, 2013
Noted Cowboys fan Domonic Brown congratulated Eagles fans after the Birds beat Dallas last Sunday night, which was beautiful considering how cheesed off Eagles fans got when Brown tweeted this back in October when the Cowboys came to Philadelphia.
Go boys pic.twitter.com/RGSjojx8Kj— Domonic Brown (@dom9brown) October 20, 2013
Which led, predictably to this.
This is why we can't have nice things. Hey Dom, as an Eagles fan, as well as a Phillies fan, I urge to continue doing what you need to do to enrage the reactionary Philadelphia fanbase. It's just too much fun to watch.
Jimmy Rollins - Keep Doing Whatever You Were Doing At the End of Last Year
Rollins really had a tough year last year, but seemed to get better once Sandberg took over and urged Rollins to hit down on the ball more and put the ball on the ground, focusing on getting on base and less on home runs. Seeing as how Jimmy Rollins can't hit home runs anymore, this is probably a good strategy that partially resulted in a September split of .292/.370/.427.
Maybe it was just a fluky month, and yes, small sample size police, I hear your sirens. Still, it seemed like Rollins played better in the last month, and hopefully, that trend will continue in 2014.
Cole Hamels - We're Up All Season To Get Lucky
There were starts last year where Hamels wasn't very good, especially early in the year. In those rare games in which he was given leads, he blew them. And in the games he pitched well, he wasn't supported. Hamels also led the National League with seven tough losses, which certainly was a bummer. His BB-rate was up but, other than that, it was another typically great Hamels season, yet he ended up with a record of 8-14. That's got to turn around this year.
Cliff Lee - Be Nicer To The Little People
Cliff and Cole got into a little bit of hot water for a prank they were pulling on Jonathan Pettibone on TV during a 13-4 loss to Atlanta. While it seems to me the front office overreacted a little bit, Lee responded by taking it out on a Phils' PR person...
"I'm not doing the in-game interview today," Cliff Lee barked at a Phillies media relations staff member beforehand in front of a MLB.com reporter. "If they're going to get mad about that, we're not doing them anymore."
Look, I understand Lee being mad at Amaro and whoever else had a problem with his antics. But it's pretty bush league to take your anger out on a media relations staffer who probably makes no more than $50,000 a year. Cliff, you're an awesome pitcher, but there's a way to be a person, man.
Kyle Kendrick - Pick An Identity
Kendrick was pretty awesome in the first half last year (8-6, 3.68 ERA, 1.259 WHIP) and pretty non-awesome in the second half (2-7, 6.91 ERA, 1.692 WHIP) and was shut down late in the season due to tendonitis in his throwing shoulder.
No one is expecting Kendrick to be an All-Star. If he turns out to be one, then that's great. But the Phils need some consistency from Kendrick, not more of this Jekyll and Hyde stuff. Especially since it's likely he's going to enter the season as the team's #3 starter.
Ben Revere - Get More Defensive
Offensively, we've pretty much seen what Revere is going to do. He's not going to hit home runs or get many extra-base hits, and he's not going to walk very much, either. But he is going to get his fair share of base hits and have a batting average near .300. He also should steal 30-40 bases.
What would make Revere a truly valuable player is if he becomes a better defensive player. He's not a bad fielder, but with his speed and athleticism, he should be better than he was last year, when it routinely seemed like he took bad routes to balls. His advanced fielding metrics indicate he slipped in 2013 from better defensive performances in 2011 and 2012. He also doesn't possess a good arm, so he really needs to be able to track virtually everything down that comes his way.
Revere can make the spectacular play, but more consistency is needed from him in center field.
Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez - Learn How To Do The Pitching
We don't know anything about MAG. Literally, nothing. None of us has ever seen him pitch and, frankly, I don't think any more than three or four people in the Phillies organization has seen the Cuban defector pitch, either. We don't know if we're getting a true #3 pitcher or an injury-waiting to happen, back-of-the-rotation/bullpen piece. Needless to say, he'll be among the most closely watched players in Clearwater this year.
Hopefully, MAG knows how to do all the pitching and things. If not, we're going to have to rely on Bob McClure to teach him.
Jonathan Papelbon - Less Is More
Papelbon talked a lot last year. None of this is a surprise. He talked a lot when he was a closer with the Red Sox. However, the bluster was more palatable when he wasn't blowing saves on a regular basis and wasn't being paid a jillion dollars a year to do it.
Now, the Phils are trying to ship 'ol Jon out of town, apparently because they're as annoyed at his clubhouse antics as his exorbitant salary. But, if the Phillies are not able to make him go away, perhaps a little less with the talkey and a little more with the better pitchey from Paps this season would be good for everybody.
Antonio Bastardo - Don't Get Suspended For Cheating, You Cheater You
The bombshell suspension of Bastardo in the Biogenesis investigation last year caught everybody by surprise, including the Phils' front office and Ruben Amaro. A little bit more than 12 hours' notice that your best left-handed reliever was going to be suspended would have been cool, Tony.
Hopefully, Bastardo has learned that cheating is bad. No more cheating, bro. You're better than that. I think.
Darin Ruf - Make Them Play You
Darin, the Phils don't have a lot of confidence in you. They don't think you're a good enough defensive outfielder (let's face it, you're probably not) to play every day and that you strike out too much, too. They signed Marlon Byrd because they don't think you're good enough to be an everyday outfielder.
And hey, maybe they're right. But there's one thing you can do to change their minds. Play kick-ass baseball.
Cut down on the strikeouts. Keep up the walks. Hit those homers. And, if you can, improve even just a tiny little bit on defense. Make them play you, because you are the only guy on that team, other than Howard and maybe Byrd, that can hit the ball out of the baseball yard more than once a week.
Roberto Hernandez - Make What Was Old New Again
Seriously, do we know why he changed his name from Fausto Carmona? If my name was Fausto Stolnis, you wouldn't see me changing it to "John," that's for dang sure.