Writer’s Roundtable: Phillies New Year’s Resolutions

Will Papelbon live up to the high standard of a $50 million deal?

In our latest Writer’s Roundtable, the Phillies Nation crew discuss our New Year’s Resolutions for the Phillies in 2012.

Nick “The Beerman” Staskin: For my New Year’s resolution, I’d like to see Charlie do a better job with his in game management.  Dontrelle Willis can be a weapon if used solely against lefties. However, theres a good chance Manuel wastes him like he did with JC Romero.  There’s no reason to let Halladay and Lee throw 120 pitches in blowouts. Save their arms for down the stretch.

I’d like to see the the team play the right players. Dom Brown got a raw deal last year, being sent down so that Raul Ibanez could decompose in left field. Brown showed some success getting on base last season and fans need to realize not all rookies start off like Ryan Braun did. Give the kid some time before we write him off.

And, extend Cole Hamels! If you are going to throw 5 years and $125 million at an older lefty in Cliff Lee then pay your home grown ace.

Jon Nisula: With 2012 comes a new year, a fresh start for our Phillies, who fell short of what I’m sure was everyone’s goal–a World Series appearance. But unlike what I’ve been reading and hearing by many Phillies fans, I did not see 2011 as a failure. They were good enough to win the most games in franchise history–surely they were good enough to win the World Series. The loss in the NLDS does not signal a reason for change for me, or at least any drastic changes.

My resolutions for the 2012 Phillies are this: I want to see Domonic Brown be the full time left fielder, or at the very least a platoon with John Mayberry Jr. Brown is a top prospect for a reason. Next, I would like to see someone on the offense finish in the top five in MVP voting. What I mean by this is, I want someone in the lineup to step it up and emerge as a feared weapon, something that the Phils did not have in 2011. Finally, I really want to see Kyle Kendrick elevate his game and become the unquestionable fifth starter for this team. I like Kendrick as a person, and I love his attitude. If he can just settle into his niche and become the fifth starter–and not pitch like the Kyle Kendrick we are used to seeing—I would be a happy man.

Kieran Carobine: It is my wish for this season that the Phillies win more 1 and 2 run ball games.  Too many times Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels ended up on the wrong side of cold hitting.  Something that ties into this is the team staying healthy.  Obviously the offense will be starting behind the eight ball with Ryan Howard recovering from his surgery.  The additions of Lance Nix, Jim Thome and Ty Wigginton should help out a little.

I would like to see the Phillies hit .260 as a team and somewhere around 170-175 home runs.  I realize this is a lot to ask with Chase Utley possibly past his prime and no Howard until May or June.  In the end, a title shot and playoff berth is the ultimate goal.  The trifecta of Halladay, Lee and Hamels should make it a reality.  But they can’t do it alone.

Don M.: How about a firm rule to only swing at strikes.  Make pitchers come to you, and make them pay for falling behind in the count.  Have pitchers unable to throw junk balls for timely strikeouts and forcing our hitters to rollover into double plays.
I’d love to see us use our speed again, Rollins can still run, as can Victorino, but I’d like to see Utley, Pence, and Mayberry taking any and every extra base they can.  Become a team that “battles,” a team that nobody wants to face because you will never give up an at-bat. Part of that mentality needs to come from Charlie, who needs to demand a championship from his players.
Most importantly, in 2012, I need to see Cole Hamels with a contract extension.  Backload the deal so that his contract gets a bump when Roy Halladay’s contract expires- whatever it takes, make it happen before other teams ever have a chance to bid on that golden left arm.

Jay Floyd: My resolution is for the fans. To the Philadelphia faithful that sell out the Phillies’ home park on a daily basis, stop acting a fool. Many members of the fan base despise the manner in which they are depicted by the national media and while pointing out how other city’s ticket holders don’t get generalized in the same fashion, however the Philadelphia region’s fans have continued to fail themselves in recent years.

We’re all familiar with the events when individuals who lacked good judgement, while in attendance at Citizens Bank Park, caused mischief, violated others or took violence to the ultimate level. There was even the incident when a senior citizen was hit by a motor vehicle as he left a game.

Can Hunter Pence lay off the high fastball? (AP)

I certainly accept the outlook of “don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch”, but when The City of Brotherly Love feeds that media hate that they disagree with so much, even on an infrequent basis, breaking down that bad reputation only lies in their own hands.

Corey Seidman: I’ll preface this by saying that these are what I’d want the Phillies to do moving forward, not what I realistically expect.

1) Lay off the high fastball: I’m looking directly at you, Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino. Both Pence and Victorino struggle to hold up against a fastball high in the zone despite not being proficient when they DO make contact with the pitch. You know how Ryan Howard has “holes in his swing?” Well I can’t think of any player having a bigger “hole” than Pence has on high fastballs. He and Victorino were probably the two best hitting Phillies last season, but both ended way too many plate appearances swinging at garbage upstairs.  It got to the point where you knew it was coming… you would call it in your head or out loud to your friends, and it would still happen. Laying off the high fastball is a discipline issue, a mental thing. Pence has made a living off being aggressive, but this is one area where his aggressiveness is so overwhelmingly negative that it’s confusing that he hasn’t trained his eye to let it pass.

2) Rest Placido Polanco once a week: This assumes he’s healthy enough to play the other five or six games in a week, obviously. If Polanco stays healthy, there is no need to give him 145-150 starts. I’d be fine with seeing Polly start 128-135 games, preventing his energy and limited pop from being sapped. Ty Wigginton isn’t good defensively, but getting him in the lineup rather than subbing Polanco for Michael Martinez or Wilson Valdez at least provides a somewhat capable bat.

3) Play Jim Thome once a week at 1B until Ryan Howard returns: Charlie Manuel, Ruben Amaro and Thome have all explicitly said the hope is that Thome is good to go one game per week at first base. I hope it actually happens. First base defense isn’t absolutely essential to success. Sure, you notice when a first baseman misses a scoop or boots a 3U into a single to right, but a first baseman can go largely unnoticed in a game. Thome gives the Phillies the added dimensions of power and patience, so you need to utilize that, not let it sit on the bench until you can pinch-hit him against a team that subsequently brings in a lefty reliever.

Pat Gallen: First, I’d like to see Charlie Manuel be more aware of pitch counts/innings. I’m not a huge fan of them because guys like Halladay and Lee can put themselves in proper shape to throw 120 pitches every time out. And 100 is just an arbitrary number, anyway. However, a lot of these guys have logged big innings over the last few years. Let’s tone it down a bit in the blowouts, like Nick said. Lee and Halladay aren’t getting any younger and while CG’s and SO’s are nice, they aren’t necessary.

Next up is that Hamels extension. It has to happen NOW. Third, I’m looking for a HUGE season from Jonathan Papelbon. The onus is on him to be near perfect this year to live up to that massive contract the Phillies gave him. I’m talking 40-45 saves and an ERA south of 2.00.

Lastly, I’d love to see a re-strengthened, rejuvenated Ryan Howard once he’s back. Howard needs to have a strong second half of the season for fear of a revolt from the fans who know the Phillies are paying him an exorbitant amount of money. He needs to work on that swing once he’s able, and even before he is, he needs to watch tons of film and get himself ready for the long haul.

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