The Philadelphia Phillies have an interesting task at hand for this 2009 season after last year’s incredible run to a World Series Championship. That task is to become the first MLB team to repeat as World Series Champions since the New York Yankees in 2000. This is also a task that the Phillies haven’t had to worry about completing since 1981, after they defeated the Kansas City Royals in the 1980 World Series.
Improving a World Series Championship team is a more difficult challenge than some might think. From the front office standpoint, you have to decide what changes need to be made without making too many changes because, remember, you just won the World Series. From the standpoint of a player, you still have to be hungry for a championship even though you just won one.
The Phillies hope that they will continue to be successful in these aspects.
This past off-season, the reigning champs’ changes began with the front office. Shortly after all of the festivities following the 2008 World Series, Pat Gillick retired from his position as general manager. Ten-year Assistant General Manager, Rubén Amaro, Jr., was named his successor and began making necessary roster changes.
The change from the championship team that stands out the most is the signing of Raúl Ibáñez to replace long-time Phillie Pat Burrell in leftfield. The Phillies signed Ibáñez to a three-year, $31.5 million deal. Another new player that the Phils have acquired is pitcher Chan Ho Park, who is now the fifth starter in their rotation.
Other off-season moves that Philly made in hopes of improving their championship team included signing Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Ryan Madson, Jayson Werth, Greg Dobbs, and the ageless wonder, Jamie Moyer, to new contracts.
Except for Burrell, the Phillies return the main core of last year’s team. This includes Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, and Brad “Lights Out” Lidge. As long as these guys can stay healthy, you can once again consider the Philadelphia Phillies “the team to beat in the NL East.”
All changes aside, the Phillies are in it to win it again as they strive to do what has never been done in franchise history: win consecutive World Series Championships. It’s a long season in which anything can happen. We will see who is playing baseball in late October. Do the Phillies have what it takes repeat? I believe they do. Will they repeat? Only time will tell.