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Fightin Phils : You Gotta Believe In Next Year

Our season ended at 6:32 P.M. last night when the Padres held off the D’Backs in the 9th Inning to clinch a playoff berth for the second straight year. I came upstairs from the basement, where I was watching the game on MLB.tv, and proclaimed "maybe next year?"

When I go to bed at night I listen to 610 WIP because I cannot sleep in silence. Even though I can hear an errant SEPTA bus every 32 minutes or a car horn from Frankford Ave, which is three blocks from my home, those city sounds don’t replace the sweet sounds of Philadelphia sports talk. Last night and this morning, the topic on every Phillies fan’s mind who called in was ‘What do we do for next year?’

The great thing about being a fan is the ability of  wishful thinking concerning your club. We analyze the teams’ needs to complement their strengths so that in 2007 the Phils can hit the field in April with an even better squad then the previous year. While the fans are clamoring for Aramis Ramirez, Barry Zito and to fire Charlie Manuel, the second that final out is made in today’s game, next year is going to be all that we’ll have to hold us through the winter.

But, just because you can manage a successful team when playing  ‘Franchise Mode’ in Madden or MLB The Show doesn’t mean that in reality your Playstation formula of success will work here on planet Earth. There are a lot of variables in accessing the needs of a team and the means that team is willing to go to meet them. Of course, there is the price tag. Then there is the contractual language, pay scale in relation to league service time, player ego, past performances, while weighing all of this into the budget for next season. Besides the Yankees and Redsox, the rest of the league has to attempt to balance these coefficients when creating a winning, yet financially feasible, club for the following year.

The Phils will be getting freed up money from their Free Agents to be, whom may will not return to the club.

Projected Free Agents

Jeff Conine – 1.7 in 2006, 2M option for 2007
Jose Hernandez – 850,000
David Dellucci – 1.8 Million
Mike Lieberthal – 7.5 Million
Randy Wolf – 9 million
Arthur Rhodes – 4.8 Million
Julio Santana – 800,000
Rick White – 600,000

This list excludes the guys who were traded from the team by July 31st: Rheal Cormier, Ryan Franklin, Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle. Just for kicks to add to the list, Ugeth Urbina who is in jail and Alex Gonzalez who retired. Also, the possible declining on picking up Aaron Rowand’s five million dollar option for next year will be lingering in the offseason.

While looking toward next year the Phils have to decide if Manuel should be the opening day manager next year. They have every reason to fire him though he is under contract until 2007. If Charlie Manuel is fired, who will replace him? How will this new manager affect the players both positively and negatively? Personally, I think the manager in baseball is the most overrated thing on the field. In baseball, as are all sports, the players make the manager look a genius. All that the manager can do are put players in the game who won’t make him look like befuddled.  I have to admit that Manuel hasn’t made the right  personnel times over the past seasons.  It’s time to find a manager who makes himself look, by putting the right players in the lineup or on the mound, instead of going with the players who proved they can not come up big in crucial situaitons.  (Ryan Franklin, Arthur Rhodes and Pat Burrell).

Finally, as usual, it’s Pat Burrell. Will Pat Burrell get traded? If so, to who and for what? The fan response to any player who doesn’t play up to par is ‘Trade Him Now!’ If our player isn’t playing up to snuff then what makes you think someone else would want that guy on their team? Though in sports, there are certain coaches and managers who see player potential over their value of production. It’s the reasno why Maurice Clarett was draft by the Broncos or why Darryl Strawberry continued to play baseball even with a well known cocaine problem.

At least two teams used this reasoning to make a trade offer for Pat. The Seattle Mariners and the Baltimore Orioles both attempted to make a trade for Pat Burrell before the trade deadline of 2006. As we know, the Mariners subsequently backed out of their deal and Burrell declined the O’s offer to play in Baltimore. In July, someone wanted this guy to play on their team. Hopefully the same is true in 2007.

On my Christmas list this year I’ll be asking Santa to be making a pick and a delivery. Drop off one 56" plasma screen in exchange for getting Pat Burrell off of this team. Santa probably knows he is getting the raw end of the deal. But, that’s what he gets for never bringing me those Nickelodeon Moonshoes I always wanted.

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