With Spring Training around the corner, fans will get chance to see the new players the Phillies added to their very different roster. Changes needed to be made, in both the starting line up, the bench and bull pen.
The moves made this off season brought in some new names as well as some familiar faces and top of the market stars.
Chris Bengel talks about these moves the Phillies made this off season and graded them based off the potential impact they will have this season.
Jonathan Papelbon – closer
Papelbon was the big splash that the Phillies made this offseason. When it looked like Ryan Madson was set to return to Philadelphia, the Phillies shocked the world and brought in Papelbon on a massive contract.
Papelbon went 4-1 with a 2.94 ERA and converted 31 saves in 63 games in 2011. He is a four-time All-Star and is among one of the best closers in the game. The 31-year old right-hander just seems to have that closer’s mentality that many don’t possess. This is a pretty substanial upgrade from Madson. Sure, Madson had a great year last year while filling in for the injured Brad Lidge. But Papelbon is a natural closer. He’s made a career out of doing it and it could prove to be quite an acquisition.
Jim Thome – first base
Thome is one of the most beloved athletes in Philadelphia sports history. The fans just seemed to identify with him from the beginning. He was a blue-collar guy that worked hard and that was something that the fans embraced. This could be the biggest signing in some people’s eyes.
A big bat off the bench is something that the Phillies lacked last season. The first guy off the bench was usually Ben Francisco or Ross Gload. So this is a very large upgrade. Thome had 15 home runs and 50 RBIs in 93 games between the Twins and Indians in 2011. Just imagine having a guy that can hit a long ball at any time. That could come in handy on those hot summer nights at Citizens Bank Park.
Laynce Nix – left field
With Raul Ibanez’s contract ending after the 2011 season, the Phillies had a decision to make in left field. Domonic Brown still doesn’t look to be major-league ready. John Mayberry Jr. had a solid second half but the Phillies didn’t appear to be sold on him as a guy that could be the full-time left-fielder. So they brought in Laynce Nix as a guy that could platoon with Mayberry. Nix enjoyed his best season as a major-leaguer, hitting .250 with 16 home runs and 44 RBIs in 124 games with the Nationals last season.
Ty Wigginton – infield/outfield
Ty Wigginton was a very solid addition for a team that has an aging infield. Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, and Chase Utley have missed substanial time over the past few seasons. Adding a guy like Wigginton gives the Phillies a versitale utility infielder with some pop. Wiggy hit .242 with 15 home runs and 47 RBIs in 130 games with the Colorado Rockies last season. He is a guy who has bounced around the league but has always been able to produce wherever he played.
The Phillies also inked a few players to minor league deals that could prove to help the squad in 2012. Juan Pierre, who just signed on Friday, could be strong fifth outfielder who can steal bases and could prove to be a great pinch runner. Pierre had 27 stolen bases and hit .279 with the White Sox last year. They also signed Joel Pineiro who could be a solid spot starter or even a back-of-the-rotation guy if Joe Blanton or Kyle Kendrick get hurt. Pineiro went 7-7 with a 5.13 ERA in 24 starts last season with the Angels.