Focusing on the plate
The coaching changes and additions that have taken place since the end of the season indicate that a bridge to the next Phillies' era is being built. Third base and infield coach Ryne Sandberg, bullpen coach Rod Nichols and hitting coach Steve Henderson should all inject new life into the top level of this organization.
The addition of assistant hitting coach Joyner offers a similar focus on specialization that the Nichols' hire highlighted. While Joyner's 2,060 career hits (for the California/Anaheim Angles, Kansas City Royals, San Diego Padres and Atlanta Braves) are impressive, his recent international experience as a hitting instructor is key for me.
I believe that 2013 will be the year that "old school" Phillies' hitters (of the undisciplined variety) will be faced with a choice of either getting with the new program, or facing future consequences. Anyone who thinks that long-term (or no-trade) contracts will prevent players from eventually being moved would be wise to accept a wait-and-see approach.
Everyone knows that the Phillies decided to bet heavily upon their pitching staff after they won the 2008 World Series. Over the course of a few seasons, general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. made a number of moves that transformed the squad he inherited from Pat Gillick into a pitching-focused team.
He acquired Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians in 2009, famously traded him after that season ended and then signed him as a free agent one year later. He obtained Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays on that same December 2009 day that Lee was dealt to the Seattle Mariners. In July 2010, he acquired Roy Oswalt from the Houston Astros.
Last offseason, he signed former Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to a large free agent contract. This summer, he re-signed Cole Hamels to a massive contract extension.
If someone were to digitally dig into the Phillies' 2009-2012 statistical pitching ditch nothing new would be learned that we don't already know. I, along with many other people across the baseball land, thought that Amaro was at the forefront of a major league shift (from hitting to pitching) in baseball eras.
While his overall pitching projection was right, his allocation of resources wasn't ideal. He didn't put enough emphasis on his offense and also didn't change enough parts in what has become an aging red pinstriped machine. That miscalculation prevented the Phillies from more strongly competing for a second World Series title.
Charlie Manuel detractors can shout as loud as they want to, but Philadelphia's offense simply hasn't been good enough to win since 2009. And enough already with referencing his past experience as a hitting coach. It's not any manager's job to go to the plate.
After another team wins this season's World Series, it will be very interesting to see what type of offensive players are added to the Phillies' roster. Hitters who are open to a disciplined plate approach seem likely to be on deck.
Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He began his professional career in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons' front office (the Philadelphia Phillies former Triple-A affiliate), later worked as a freelance sports writer and is currently a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo Contributor Network! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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