Last winter, there weren't many people who predicted that the Philadelphia Phillies would play poorly through the All-Star break and then rebound to finish at exactly .500. But, that's what they did.
After making some coaching changes this week, what should general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. do next?
Pitching and defense
Charlie Manuel's team scored 29 less runs than it did in 2011. It also allowed 151 more runs to score.
They made 74 errors in 2011 and 101 errors in 2012. The Phillies had a National League-leading .988 fielding percentage in 2011. In 2012, their .983 mark put them in seventh place among their NL colleagues.
The Phillies scored 713 run in 2011, when they won 102 games. But, the 684 runs they scored in 2012 only allowed them to win 81 games. That translates to an average of 4.40 runs scored per game in 2011 and 4.22 runs scored per game in 2012.
The Phillies only allowed 529 runs to score in 2011, which was the lowest total in the National League. In 2012, they allowed 680 runs to score. That translates to an average of 3.27 runs allowed per game in 2011 and 4.20 runs allowed per game in 2012.
Here's another look at these side-by-side numbers: An average of 4.40 runs scored and 3.27 runs allowed in 2011. An average of 4.22 runs scored and 4.20 runs allowed in 2012.
Areas to improve
In addition to obtaining two veteran middle-inning relievers, I would also enhance the starting staff by incorporating a veteran fourth (or fifth) starter into the rotation.
I wouldn't shop at the free agent pitching dollar store, or make modest trades during this offseason.
Hopefully, eye-popping offensive statistics won't overshadow well-rounded positional parts that are added to the team as well. Everyone knows that defense is the other half of every starting player's game.
Certainly there are a number of holes that will rightly be filled before next season begins. When we review 2011 and 2012 statistical comparisons, it's clear what areas of this team need to be improved.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies' farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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