First, congratulations to the San Francisco Giants and their fans, particularly the members of the McCovey Chronicles community on SB Nation. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to shoot the breeze and talk some good-natured smack over the last week or so. Your (collective) sense of humor and knowledge about the game are a credit to the network and the sport. Except for Grant, eff that guy.
FuquaManuel's game recap last night said everything just about as well as I could have. This is a Phillies team that had a ton of opportunities all series but just failed to cash in. It's frustrating to be undone by the other team's mediocrities, but remember Matt Stairs coming through for the Phillies? Eric Bruntlett? The shoe was just on the other foot this NLCS. That's baseball, that's the nature of the sport. If the Phillies had "executed" they wouldn't have been in the position to lose the game on an OFJOAB Special from Juan Uribe. Credit to the Giants for playing well enough to win. Blaming individual players and performances is just stupid and counterproductive; the team, as a whole, played quite poorly, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. While lots of this is due to the Giants' terrific pitching, the Phillies simply did not hit well enough to win very many playoff series. That's life.
It's very hard to substantiate but I suspect that we were all witness, at least in part, to the cumulative effect of a roster just flat-out getting older. The position players on this squad likely peaked around 2007-8 and it's going to be a slow decline for the core (Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard) from here out. The fantastic front three in the starting rotation will allow this team to remain an extremely competitive postseason contender for at least a couple more years, but without a major roster overhaul, this team's days as an offensive powerhouse are probably done.
Ruben Amaro, Jr. knows that the team is locked-in to 7/8ths of his starting lineup for at least 2011, barring some kind of dubious salary dump move. It's going to be up to the hitters perform or for the team to get better in other areas to keep this playoff run going.
Which brings us to Jayson Werth. Werth, 31, isn't exactly a kid anymore but he's been very durable since arriving in Philadelphia and is coming off his best season. What is unfortunate is that this team decided to commit so much money and three years to Raul Ibanez, who will be 39 in 2011. Werth's importance as the team's sole right-handed power bat has been made clear over the past two seasons, so it will be interesting to see how Amaro addresses the issue going into 2011. There are probably some movable parts (Shane Victorino comes to mind) but with the big contracts and advanced ages on the diamond, it's going to be hard to get much more than salary relief in any moves.
This was a very exciting season, but one that did not end how we had all hoped. But going back to late July, with the team stuck at 48-46 and the playoffs looking like a longshot, I think we all would have bought in on the opportunity to watch the Phillies in another NLCS, regardless of the outcome.
We have a full season of H2O to look forward to. The development and maturation of Domonic Brown, one of the most exciting prospects in baseball. A rich farm system boasting terrific power arms (Jarred Cosart, Brody Colvin, Trevor May, Jesse Biddle), power bats (Domingo Santana, Jonathan Singleton), and athleticism (Jiwan James, Kelly Dugan), plus the infamous Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and J.C. Ramirez. These are still the Salad Days.
Please check back with The Good Phight throughout the offseason for regular coverage of the Phillies' Hot Stove business. We'll be here keepin' on.
Thank you, Phillies, for a great season.