The 20 Most-Important Phillies

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Sat, November 29, 2008 03:42 PM | Comments: 40

I stole this idea from Peter Abraham, who is unequivocally the best Yankees beat writer (and, ironically, once worked at the newspaper I’m currently at). He wrote about the 20 most important Yankees at this very moment, including any person on the payroll (including scouts, coaches, front office personnel, etc.). I’ll do the same for the Phillies. Here are my 20 most important people in the Phillies organization today:

1. Ruben Amaro Jr.

He was handed a golden ticket when Pat Gillick resigned as general manager: The franchise’s second world title, a solid core of major leaguers, a slowly improving farm system. Are the Phillies a first-division team like the Red Sox, Yankees and Cubs? Or are they just another flame-out champion like the White Sox, Cardinals and Marlins? Amaro will decide that by how he works the budget.

2. Ryan Howard

He might not be a Phillie in three years, but right now he’s crucial. The all-universe slugger is baseball’s biggest bat, but he demands the biggest money. Does he deserve it all? Still, if he improves his contact hitting and defense, he’s the best player in the game. And he leads this team to another championship.

3. David Montgomery

The shrewd president (at least we think he’s shrewd) is the face of the unknown ownership, and he’s the one who first held the world championship trophy. It’s his pen that may give Cole Hamels a new contract, and it’s his pen that may give the Phils a new philosophy on adding and subtracting players. Who knows if the Phils won in spite of his style, but he remains integral to the team’s long-term success.

4. Cole Hamels

The ace lifted himself into the top shelf of major league pitchers with his postseason performance, one for the ages. Now the 2008 World Series MVP will try and remain a top starter for the next 12-16 years. He can. Hopefully it’s as a Phillie.

5. Charlie Manuel

Say what you want, but Uncle Chollie held down the fort throughout 2008. When Jimmy Rollins seemed lax; when the team grabbed headlines for the wrong reasons; when things seemed sour in the summer — all these times Manuel kept composure and remained optimistic. It paid off. To me, another good season or two solidifies his place as the franchise’s all-time skipper.

6. Chase Utley

The franchise underwent hip surgery, and now must rehab as the title-defense season nears. The long-term question is how Utley will perform for the next few years, as his hip and other body parts endure his 100-percent effort. A move to first base or left field may be in the near future.

7. Brett Myers

Why is Myers so important? Try a free agency year. Myers, 28, is entering the prime of his career and must produce numbers close to his second-half output to secure a big deal in 2010. His performance in 2009 will dictate how the Phils approach the 2010 offseason. And it also will dictate how the Phils perform from the mound in ’09.

8. Pat Burrell

Like Myers, Burrell remains key because of his contract status. If the Phillies choose to re-sign the 32-year-old slugger, it’ll take off a chunk of money in the offseason budget. If they don’t, it leaves a giant hole in left field.

9. Chuck LaMar

The new assistant general manager is in charge of scouting, and must continue to fill a farm system that was once — debatably — the worst in baseball. Now the system is improving, but still in the lower tier. If LaMar can work magic, like he did in Tampa Bay, the Phils will be set for the next 15 years.

10. Ryan Madson

Madson is the only reliever besides Brad Lidge who is capable of being totally dominant, and now coming into a free agency year, Mad Dog can potentially secure himself a closer-worthy contract if he stands out in 2009. A sterling performance as Lidge’s No. 1 protector would go a long way in defending the title.

11. Carlos Carrasco

The 6’3″ 21-year-old right-hander will be watched like a hawk in 2009. It’s likely Carrasco will see Citizens Bank Park by the All-Star break, and it’s also likely he finishes the season as one of the five men in the rotation. With Hamels, the Venezuelan with the moving fastball and deadly changeup is the future of Phillies pitching.

12. Brad Lidge

Going 48-for-48 in 2008 was a once-in-a-lifetime feat. Being the man on the mound when the Phils won the world championship was, as well. But if anyone can duplicate those feats, it’s Lidge, who found new life in 2008. While you can’t expect another perfect season, his health and performance remains key to success.

13. Jimmy Rollins

The Phillies proved they could win without their captain, but it was he who provided the ice-breaking swings in the NLDS and NLCS. He may run his mouth and show up late, but Rollins is undoubtedly the face of the franchise, and maybe, the city’s most twistedly revered sports figure.

14. Benny Looper

The new assistant GM takes Amaro’s old job, and he’ll work closely with him to ensure they field the team strongly. As Amaro’s first large appointment, he’ll be one of the first indicators of the Amaro era.

15. Shane Victorino

Throughout 2008, it seemed where Shane went, so did the Phillies. His electric play with his bat, glove and legs made him a burgeoning star, and his postseason play made him a marquee name. If he remains healthy and contributes solid play, he hands the Phils 15 wins or so.

16. Lou Marson

The 22-year-old catcher seems poised to take over as everyday receiver in either 2009 or 2010. His power should come around, but for now he projects as a .290 hitter with slightly above-average catching and throwing abilities. Hard to find those qualities in a catcher.

17. Anthony Hewitt

The first-round draft pick is crucial to the future. Undeniably raw, he has everything but a bat. But if that appears, he’s a future all-star infielder. He could be a third baseman, taking over in three years or so, or he could be Rollins’ replacement. His failure means another reassessment of the franchise’s draft strategy.

18. Steve Noworyta

The Phillies had just one overachieving affiliate in 2008, and that was the very lowest affiliate (the Gulf Coast League Phillies). Both the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and Reading Phillies fared miserably, with Reading overhauling its staff after a disappointing season. The system is improving, but it’s Nowortya who ultimately could get the system onto the better half of the list.

19. Carlos Ruiz

The catching issue is a good one to have, but it’s still an issue. Ruiz’s magnificent World Series gave us all new faith in the 29-year-old, and showed us just how crucial he is to the pitching staff. He’ll go a long way in keeping the staff among the majors’ best in 2009.

20. Kyle Drabek

Lost in the flurry of percolating prospects, Drabek came out of Tommy John surgery and performed strong in an abbreviated 2008 and in the Hawaiian Winter League. His 2009 might mean a quick ascention to Philadelphia.

Others considered: Jamie Moyer, Michael Taylor, Jason Donald, Rich Dubee, Jayson Werth, Joe Blanton

What’s your list?

Avatar of Tim Malcolm

About Tim Malcolm

Tim Malcolm has written 1948 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I think Werth, Moyer, and Blanton need to be there. They will be crucial to our success next season, and the expectations are very high for all three.

  • Posts: 0 fred

    Utley should be much higher. No way is Howard #2

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    The thing with Utley is that he is very consistent… you can expect from him a .300 average with a bunch of doubles and RBIs… But with Howard, it’s a whole different story. He could either slump big time or be monstrous. Unfortunately, at this point, our season depends a lot on how the big man performs… and it’s so hard to predict.

  • Posts: 0 NateB

    I think Werth will have a breakout year out of the 3 hole. I’m predicting 30+ homers… seriously!

  • Posts: 0 Bear Mike

    I am happy to see that you put high value in Ryan Howard. All to many times on this board, I read what borders on distain of Ryan Howard simply because of his high K:AB raito (32.6%) and his modest batting average of 0.251 (6th amongst starters in 2008). Do most fans realize that if Ryan had ONE more hit in every 9 games that he played, he would have batted 0.280? Think about it. It is a very fine line. Ryan is one of the most prolific power hitters in the history of MLB. If you compare him to THE most prolific power hitters:

    Ryan Howard: 0.87 RBI/game, 11.7AB/HR, 0.63 runs/game
    Babe Ruth: 0.89 RBI/game, 11.8 AB/HR, 0.87 runs/game
    Hank Aaron: 0.70 RBI/game, 16.4 AB/HR, 0.66 runs/game
    Barry Bonds: 0.67 RBI/game , 12.9 AB/HR, 0.75 runs/game

    My point is that he is still a young kid with tons to learn about the game. IMHO, he if he moves up on the plate and focuses on contact, especially driving outside pitches to left field, and elimnatint THE SHIFT, it will make a world of difference for him. I get as frutstrated as anyone, but Ryan deserves recognition for his tremendous accomplishments in his very short career. Just my two cents:

    GO PHILLIES!!!!!!!!!!

  • Posts: 0 griffin

    Great list, I’m glad to see you mention some of the front office decision makers.
    If you’re ranking the players based on value, then Utley is at the top, but I understand the point of your rankings (and ranking Howard higher than Utley). Good stuff Tim, this is why your site is a must read everday, including the offseason.

  • Posts: 0 maxhole

    bear mike those are great stats, but howard isnt a young kid (30? and hasn’t had his first major contract). if he took off a few lbs his defense to left and right would get better, and his throwing ability is all mental IMO.

    while tim said farm system is still par, its freakin great to see young names on the list. anyone else excited to see fresh faces this year? especially in the pitch catch section.

  • Posts: 0 Bear Mike

    Maxhole – Ryan is currently 28 YO and he will be only 29 through the 2009 season (DOB: 11-19-79). Otherwise, I agree with everything you said. Fielding needs to improve for sure. He had 19 errors in 2008. I’ll bet you a significant number of those were throwing errors which is completely unacceptable for routine 3-6-3 DPs.

    I think $10M does qualify as a Big contract BTW. My point to my previous comment was that it always amazed me how hard core Phillies fans are so quick to throw the guy under the proverbial bus. His lows can be very low, and his highs can be very high, but all in all, THE GUY FLAT OUT PRODUCES BIG TIME! Would the Phillies have made it to the postseason if Ryan did not have a huge September?

    I can only imagine how much more productive he would be if he could cut down on his K’s by 20% or so? Pat the Bat would have probably had over 100 RBI if that were the case. Of course, I realize you can make the same arguement for every player on the team. Ryan has been notorious for a very slow start in April and May. If it were me, I would be push bunting to 3B whenever the situation permits to eliminate THE SHIFT. Eliminating the shift would probably get him an extra 10-15 hits per season. During the last game of the season against the Nats, he clearly “slapped” a pitch right down the line at 3B. It was clealy intentional and histarical – I was there.

    Go PHILLIES!!!!!!!!

  • Posts: 0 Ray

    chase wont move to left or second base

    hes to stubborn

  • Posts: 0 t

    Chase may be stubborn but he’s also a professional, he won’t have a problem making a wise career decision.

    Tim, great read again. The young names are encouraging, and I like the way you didn’t just list best players from 1st to last.

  • Posts: 0 maxhole

    no doubt howard produces. if utley plays first, where does howard go? is this barring a howard trade in future?

    love to see chooch on the list too, he might have had a hole in his bat thru most of season, but pitching would not have been the same w/ coste or others catching.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Can someone please explain why we’re even entertaining the idea of moving tbe best fielding 2B in the game off of his position? Chase is 30 years old, he’s not moving anywhere for awhile.

  • Posts: 0 mike

    Tim I am reading todd Z column in the paper. He is saying the phillies won’t offer arbritration to burrell cause he might accept, and get more money for one year, Does that mean we don’t get a first round choice.

  • Posts: 0 reddeath

    if the phillies don’t offer arbritration, and burrell signs elsewhere then we don’t get a 1st round or a sanwich pick. i don’t see why they wouldn’t offer burrell arb.

  • Posts: 0 mike

    Todd Zolecki says the phillies are afraid he will accept and they would have to pay him 14-16 million for one year. if that is true then they are cheap bas##. if he would accept one year even if it is a high salary it would be good for us to see if the minors can produce someone to replace him and if werth can handle the load.

  • Posts: 0 Ryk

    You nailed it, Mike. If Burrell accepts arbitration, which he won’t, we’d pay him top dollar for 1 year out of the guy. He obviously wants more than 1 year. But if the improbable happens and he would accept, it’s win-win. Burrell gets one more year to prove his worth and becomes a free agent again after 09. It also solves the Phillies problem in finding a LF. Yes, $16 million is a ton of money, but they wouldn’t be locked into a long-term contract. And like Mike just said, it gives our OF prospects more time to grow into what we all hope they can grow into.

  • Posts: 0 mike

    now mandel is reporting they will offer arb. why don’t these writers find out before they just print anything.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    I can’t see the Phillies not offering Burrell arbitration. The reward far outweights the risk-Burrell on a one year deal wouldn’t be a bad thing. Hopefully, the Phillies aren’t cheap/stupid.

  • Posts: 0 Dan

    Myers is important, but in a different way. He is important in that it is important that he pitches well, because the Phillies’ organization is counting on him to deliver. I do not think that he is important, in that the Phillies need him to win, because I have very little confidence in him, and when he goes out and pitches its feast or famine. That kind of inconsistency, does not make him a vital part of the phillies winning, but it makes it important that he performs well in the 2009 season.

  • Posts: 0 maxhole

    at least bob ford didnt write it, so it could be somewhat true.

    how was your turkey free holiday mike

  • Posts: 0 Dan

    Also, like Tim said, preforming well in 2009 would earn him a contract, and I think many Phillies fans’ trust.

  • Posts: 0 mike

    Good thanks. Hope you had a nice holiday.

  • Posts: 0 Greg V.

    1. Chase Utley – Chase is the Phillies as far as I’m concerned. He is the definition of a great baseball player.
    2. Ruben Amaro Jr. – Ok, he’s the guy calling the shots now.
    3. Cole Hamels – One of the best pitchers in the game.
    4. Jamie Moyer – One of the best teachers in the game and he pitches pretty damn well too!
    5. Charlie Manuel – Despite all the criticism that even I am guilty of unleashing, this team shows up for Charlie.
    6. Shane Victorino – Who needed Rowand when you can put Victorino in center? I also think this guy should be our lead off hitter.
    7. Jimmy Rollins – Lousy year at the plate and I wasn’t crazy about his attitude either but he still played some great short stop and made some essential plays.
    8. Carlos Ruiz – The man calls a hell of a game.
    9. Brad Lidge – What else can you say that hasn’t been said? He’s perfect!
    10. Ryan Madson – Became the best bullpen pitcher whose name isn’t Brad Lidge.
    11. Lou Marson – I love this guy and can’t wait to see him in the bigs full time.
    12. Joe Blanton – I won’t lie. I was pissed when we traded for him. Another man who proved me wrong!
    13. Pat Burrell – The right handed at bat we need to keep! He’s Pat the Bat!
    14. Brett Myers – The whole pocket aces pitch we were given at the begining of the season may have taken a bit to sink in (ok, a long time to sink in) but Myers pitched some quality gems! Not to mention, he got the best of Sabathia!
    15. Greg Dobbs – The ultimate pinch hitter!
    16. Ryan Howard – Had some freezing cold moments but he turned on the power when we needed it most!
    17. Carlos Carrasco – Should be a contender for the No. 5 spot. If he does it right, he’ll get it!
    18. Chad Durbin – An essential factor to the pitching staff. He can basically fill any roll. Had a rough end of the season, but there is no denying his value.
    19. Pedro Feliz – A mediocre hitter but a phenominal fielder!
    20. Matt Stairs – That homerun in the NLCS is probably the best Phillies home run of my lifetime! For that, he earns a spot on my top 20!

  • Posts: 0 Jim

    god k nows well all love matt stairs now but tehres no way he makes the top 20

  • Posts: 0 RichieAllen

    I agree with Greg V above, Chase is #1,…..but he’s also #2 and #3.

    Only kidding ,but the true value of Utley will be felt when he is absent in the early part of 2009.There isnt anybody who can “Be Chase”offensively and on defence…..If you know what I mean.

  • Posts: 0 reddeath

    i think you guys misunderstood the purpose of the list. it’s more of a list of future impacting people. not matt stairs, he isn’t going shape the future of the phillies.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck P

    The IMPACT list… I love it. It’s great to hear about the behind the scenes personnel guys that are going to be relied upon to mold the face of this franchise. Guys like Steve Noworyta and Benny Looper. Chuck Lamar has been talked about BUT he is undoubtedly the most important grunt-work guy in the front office. This guy is a huge pickup… as a director of scouting (and I stress that). His work as a GM has been inconsistent, to say the least. His strategy in TB (overspend on veterans) failed, however, he has drafted some very good players during his tenure. Guys like Upton, Crawford, Shields, Sonnanstine and Delmon Young (as well as being the man behind the trade that set the Mets back 5 years, trading Victor Zambrano for Scott Kazmir… that alone is worth a job in our organization) were all drafted by Lamar. It took a Wall Street guy to seal the deal but Lamar had a lot to do with the success of the Rays.

  • Posts: 0 Dan C.

    I understand the purpose of the list, but I disagree with Amaro as #1:

    1) Ownership Group – While we enjoyed an amazing 2008, lets remember that this group has been responsible for everything since 1980, including the unbearable periods of the 80s and 90s. Major financial decisions still need their blessing.

  • Posts: 0 Megary

    Somewhere in the Top 20 should be the Mystery Man – call him ? – the guy who will be filling in at 2B for the first month or two of the season.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I’m not sure what you mean when you call the Cubs a first-division team like the RedSox and Yankees..

    They haven’t won anything of any importance in a long time, they overspend for just about everything the acquire, and they are going to sold soon..

    I wouldn’t mind seeing them win a Championship, and I would definitely rather the Cubs then the Sox, Yanks, Mets, etc.. But I don’t think the Cubs have done anything other than overpay for “names” lately.. Soriano is alright, but not worth the contract they gave him.. Lou Pinella won manager of the year for guiding that team to the playoffs, and then nothing else

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    I wholly agree. I called the Cubs a fraud way back when the playoffs began, which was the general consensus here if i remember. Thats what they are to me. Ryan Dempster had a fine season. BUt 4 years 12mm per? No, Id offer him 3 years 10mm per nothing more. Hes only had two good seasons as a starter.

    Harden: Great, but no stamina and always gets hurt. Rarely goes more than 6 innings without tweaking something. Zambrano: great, but gets wacky sometimes, hasnt yet lived up to his potential in the clutch like cole hamels finally did this past season.

    they have some hitters i like but they missed, badly, on fukudome and i think they might be stuck with that contract…they have some nice bullpen pieces in marmol and samardzjia, but kevin gregg is far from a lockdown setup man.

    the cubs are good enough to be in the mix in their bad, overrated division like they were last year.

    the phillies are still in the drivers seat. cole hamels has emerged as the games top clutch starting pitcher. a bunch of guys in the rotation pirtched out of their minds in the playoffs (moyer, blanton) so id liek to bolster the depth of the rotation and add some insurance there even if moyer resigns. still, there may be some bargains floating around out there to play corner outfield once people go and spend too much money on adam dunn and pat burrell and manny and such. id concentrate on spending most of the money on pitching and contract extensions for key players. which is exactly what i believe amaro is going to do….

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    also..i guess were going to find out how good jason donald is arent we? hell be yoru opening day starter at second base. i hope he plays well. he could be a valuable piece to have in their pocket over the course of the season.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    Aparently the Phillies are one of four teams in the running for Mark Loretta. Would be a very solid pick-up though the Phils have to either plan to have Donald fill in for Chase or trade him while his values high.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Loretta only makes sense if you move Donald for starting pitching or an everyday left fielder. Otherwise its a complete waste of money.

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Is there a chance that the Phillies DFA Bruntlett since he is arbitration eligible? Maybe they feel he can be replaced with a cheaper option, like Loretta.

  • Posts: 0 TREV

    What about the phillie Phanatic? I mean when times get rough, who do we look to in order to still try to laugh or cheer for something. Maybe not a top 20 be he deserves some recognition.
    On a serious note though, Tom Gordon and Adam Eaton should be included because it is so important that they stay AS FAR AWAY FROM THIS TEAM’S BULLPEN OR ROTATION AS POSSIBLE. Other than that, great list and great read. Thought it was a good look at this club’s important roles.

  • Posts: 0 NJ

    The Phanatic should be a top 3… If there’s a bench-clearing and the fist are flying you know he’ll be side by side with Brett Myers holding his greatest mascot trophy ready to clock one of the opponents round the head with it.

    Have to say LaMar and Noworyta are incredibly important, we need to get the next wave of Phillies coming through the system and get at least a couple of drafts like the Sox, Brewers and Cubs have had to give the flexibility to not put a clock on the window of opportunity to win. If the smart moneys on throwing it all into the ring while Ryan Howards not smelling free agency then thats not smart money at all, nows time to get smarter and dictate our future by focusing on getting young, talented, cheap and controlable guys groomed to support the Hamels, Utley core for the next 10 years.

  • Posts: 0 Mike B.

    Utley might still make Opening Day, but for all intensive purposes, it’s going to take him some time to get his swing back.

    I absolutely agree with the assessment that Ryan Howard is number 2 on the list. With Burrell most likely gone and Utley facing a down year due to the fact that the hip surgery will throw off his off-season training program, Howard will absolutely be they key for how the offense fares as long as Utley isn’t himself – and that might be all season if the hip is either still bothering him or if it affects his training regimen that profoundly. If we’re without Utley for Opening Day, then right now our lineup is:

    1) SS: Rollins
    2) CF: Victorino
    3) 1B: Howard
    4) RF: Werth
    5) LF: Jenkins/Stairs/Dobbs
    6) 3B: Feliz
    7) C: Ruiz/Coste
    8) 2B: Jason Donald
    9) Pitcher’s spot

    Given the Howard has absolutely no proven protection (it’s too soon to say about Werth), pitchers are going to give him absolutely nothing to hit. It will be critical for him to stay focused and to not put pressure on himself and accept that a walk isn’t such a bad thing. If he can do that, Werth will get a good number of RBI opportunities. But if Ryan isn’t patient, we’re in a lot of trouble, especially without Chase or Pat to pick us up when he struggles like they did last season. We really need the 2006 Ryan Howard to show up, not the 2008 Ryan Howard. Because if THAT Ryan Howard shows up, who’s going to pick us up? Werth? He may, but if he gets good enough, they’ll just give him nothing. Then what – Jenkins? Stairs?

    And Jason Donald playing second base for us? NJ, I hope you’re right about the Mark Loretta rumor because I’m not sure if Donald can field. He hasn’t had a fielding percentage higher than .968, and that was only through half a season in Clearwater where he committed 10 errors in 83 games. This season his fielding percentage dropped to .949 when he made 18 errors in games – that’s basically one error for every one game in the 8 extra games he played in Lakewood (91) as opposed to the 83 he played in Clearwater.

    I’m not giving up on Donald, though. The good news: Utley actually made 28 errors when playing AAA ball in 2002 (this was when they were still making him play third – it could be a matter of finding him a good position) and his fielding percentage was .918. Both have comparable OPS statistics and stolen base percentages. I like his hitting a lot. But I see his defense. Even the comparisons aren’t accurate because Utley went from low-A in 2000 to AAA in 2002, whereas Donald went from low-A in 2006 to AA this year. Maybe he’s the next Chase Utley stats-wise (no one can replace his heart), or maybe he’s the next Todd Walker (terrible-fielding second baseman with Boston and Chicago once).

    If anyone’s seen him play and knows that he’s much better than these numbers suggest, please let me know because I’ve never seen him play. But I don’t like that he’s only in AA and I don’t like that his fielding are low. I just can’t see him filling in decently for Chase – although that might be because we’re so spoiled by Chase that no one can seem good enough.

    Also, since we’re on this list, put Happ on that list – since our offense may struggle, pitching will be critical. Burrell and Utley were hot enough that we could actually get by with Adam Eaton last season pre-All Star Break, but we can’t afford a single weak link this year since Utley might not return to form until after the All-Star Break.

  • Posts: 0 Mike B.

    P.S. Why did it just do a smiley face when I tried to write the number 8?

  • Posts: 0 metsblow4show

    Hey Mike B., they need a right-handed bat in leftfield to platoon with one of the three lefties you named. I would like to see Pat back,but if they decide not to re-sign him, I wouldn’t mind them bringing in a guy like Gabe Kapler as the right=handed platoon option. He wouldn’t cost you much money, therfore freeing up cash to sign Hamels,Victorino and Howard to long term deals. He would be a nice compliment to a Jenkins and he also would fit right in being the hard-nosed type player that Phillie Phans just love. As far as Mark Loretta, I would rather see them sign Nick Punto. He plays outstanding defense at third,shortstop, and second and could step in nicely if Jason Donald struggles. He is also a serious upgrade over Bruntlett as your utility infielder, offensively , defensively, and as a baserunner.

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