Right now, everyone in the Phillies' front office is telling you exactly what you want to hear.
Manager Ryne Sandberg, general manager Ruben Amaro and interim president Pat Gillick, who is manning the chair for president Dave Montgomery while he wages his battle with cancer, have all talked about making the roster younger for 2015.
They've all talked about bringing more offense into the fold, revamping the starting rotation and moving on from the core that went to two straight World Series in 2008 and 2009.
"I think that from our standpoint, you don’t have to be a genius. We have to make some changes," Gillick said Monday during an interview with Kevin Cooney with the Bucks County Courier Times. "Those changes have to be players and personnel that are younger than the people we have on the roster at the moment."
"Let me put it this way — all our players are going to be in play,"
It's one thing to put "all your players in play." But aside from drugging random GMs at the winter meetings or hypnotizing the players with full no-trade rights, it's hard to see how the massive overhaul of the roster will take place in time for next season.
There's the 35-year-old Jimmy Rollins, who hit .243/.323/.394 with 17 HRs and 28 stolen bases this season and finished with the third-best fWAR among all NL shortstops at 3.6. He's got full 10-5 no-trade rights and has indicated he has no desire to go anywhere else.
There's the 35-year-old Chase Utley, who hit .270/.339/.407 with 11 HRs and 36 doubles, and finished with an fWAR of 4.1, best among all NL second basemen. However, he struggled mightily in the second half, hitting just .235/.323/.350 with a wRC+ of 85 and just three homers after the All Star Break. He has full 10-5 no trade rights as well.
There's the 35-year-old catcher Carlos Ruiz, who hit .252/.347/.370 with 25 doubles and six homers, with an fWAR of 3.2, fifth-best among NL backstops. He's slated to earn $8.5 million next season and in 2016, and will have his 10-5 no trade rights kick in at the end of next season.
There's the 36-year-old Marlon Byrd, who had a very productive first season with the Phillies. He hit .264/.312/.445 with a team-leading 25 homers. He also hit 28 doubles and knocked in 85 runs, although he did strike out 185 times, second-worst on the team, with an fWAR of 1.9, eighth-best among NL left fielders. His bWAR of 2.6 liked his defense a bit better, which would have put him tied for sixth. He's their best veteran trade chip over the winter, owed $8 million this year, with an $8 million vesting option for 2016 that looks like it shouldn't be too hard to trigger.
There is the 34-year-old Ryan Howard, who had a disastrous, and healthy, season at the plate. He batted just .223/.310/.380 with an OPS of .690 that ranked 30th among all NL first basemen and 10th out of all qualified NL first-sackers. His fWAR of -0.3 was last among all qualified first basemen as well. He is still owed another $60 million over the next two years.
There is the 35-year-old Cliff Lee, who started only 13 games for the Phillies this season, twice aborted because of left elbow problems. He is slated to earn $25 million next year, with a $12.5 million buyout after next season.
And there is the 33-year-old Jonathan Papelbon, the youngster of the group, who actually had a very productive season closing, when he wasn't busy grabbing himself. He saved 39 games, finished with a 2.04 ERA and posted a WHIP of 0.905. However, his less-than-stellar peripherals, his questionable attitude, and the $26 million dollars he will be owed over the next two seasons, are all issues as well.
There are major hurdles to moving any and/or all of these players, some of whom were still very productive this year. In fact, it was the young guys that really brought the team down, killing the Phils in left field and third base, and providing less-than-league-average offensive production in center field.
Signing Yasmani Tomas would certainly be a start, and the Phils must be willing to pay more than $100 million for his services if need be. If they're not able to land him, however, you could be looking at another season of Domonic Brown or Grady Sizemore in left.
They could also make a change at third base and promote Maikel Franco, whose defense is already good enough for the Majors. However, starting the season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley might be the best place for him as he continues to work on his approach at the plate, and it's likely the team would like to give Cody Asche more than just one full season to prove he's a viable third baseman.
And as was mentioned by Todd Zolecki last week, it appears as if the Phils could be looking to upgrade center field as well, although the options in free agency (Emilio Bonifacio, Endy Chavez, Franklin Gutierrez, Nyjer Morgan, Colby Rasmus, and Chris Young) are not exactly jump-out-of-your-chair options.
It's hard to see how the Phillies generate the kind of change they're talking about unless they decide to start releasing players. Howard is certainly a candidate for that, given how much money the team would likely be willing to eat anyway. But Utley and Rollins likely aren't going anywhere, the Phils have no back-up plan if they trade Ruiz, no one will trade for Lee until next year's trade deadline at the earliest, and teams are staying away from the high-priced Papelbon like the plague. Only Marlon Byrd appears to be worthy of targeting, and even in that case, there are contract issues.
It's likely this process will take multiple years, and may not be fully complete until 2016. So don't get excited about all these comments talking about a roster overhaul for next season.
Unless Ruben Amaro has learned the ways of the dark arts. Then, all bets are off.