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PhoulBallz Roundtable: Most/Least Likely Expiring Contract to Return

Every now and again, here on the site, we feature guests tackling a topic related to the Phillies.  This time around, I surveyed some impassioned baseball minds on the subject of which of the Phils' four key players with expiring contracts at the end of this upcoming season are most likely and least likely to return to Philadelphia.  Those four individuals are manager Charlie Manuel, ace pitcher Roy Halladay, catcher Carlos Ruiz and second baseman Chase Utley.

The participants in this roundtable are my Podcast cohost Tug Haines, WFAN radio host and writer Joe Giglio, the biggest female baseball fan I know Casey Landman, PhilliesNation.com writer Kieran Carobine as well as yours truly.  Here's what the group had to say on this subject.


Tug Haines-
think a lot of this depends on how the season looks around the trade deadline. But I’ll answer real quick, ranking them from least to most likely, while assuming the Phillies will be in the thick of things until the end.

1.       Manuel
2.       Ruiz
3.       Halladay
4.       Utley

You’re not going to hear much more than speculation about Charlie during the season, but I believe this will be his last. Ryne Sandberg has been groomed to manage, he’s back in the bigs, coaching third base, it seems like 2014 will be his year. Charlie is getting up there in years and there are a lot of questions about how he manages a baseball team. I realize that this means dick, because people were questioning his management chops in 2008 – and just about every other year.

Utley stays. I think if Utley plays 25 games this year, they might let him go. Twenty-six or more, they re-sign him. Is it the right thing to do? Who the hell knows? He’s a great player, when healthy, and I’m sure his presence in the clubhousblahblahblahblahblahblah - whatever that means, if anything - will be good for a three year deal. 

If you ask me, as long as Kyle Kendrick is on the team, they’d better sign all these guys. I’m not a member of the KK Hate Squad, but he’s not more valuable than any of the three players listed above.

I’m a homer, and I admit it because wearing it on my sleeve affords me a lot of sentimentality without having to worry about pesky analysis. But, if I had to look at this team with a cold eye, I’d say they’re all coming back. 

Or not.

Remember Ruben’s Razor: “Among competing hypotheses, the most infuriating one that makes the least amount of sense should be selected.

Joe Giglio- 
Of the four big name Phillies with contracts set to expire after the '13 season, Chase Utley is the most likely to return. Despite his injury plagued recent past, his game profiles as one that can age well -- specifically at the plate. For as long as Utley can move, he'll be an average to above average hitter because of his short stroke and exemplary plate discipline. Plus, as in the case with Jimmy Rollins, he's been part of the face of the change in Philadelphia. He's beloved and ownership knows it.

While the writing is on the wall for Ryne Sandberg to replace Charlie Manuel sooner than later, a postseason appearance can't be ruled out this year in Philadelphia. That means Manuel will go out on his terms, likely not now.

Roy Halladay is in decline, but could come back on a short term, reasonable contract. If he loves Philadelphia as much as he did when he arrived, it's not hard to picture a Yankees-Andy Pettitte type of relationship between Doc and the Phils as the years go on. As long as he's healthy and the team has a hole in the rotation, a one-year contract will be extended.

For me, Carlos Ruiz is the least likely to return. Factor in the suspension, nearly impossible to repeat '12, age, and young catchers in the system, and it's easy to see a new backstop in '14. 

Casey Landman- 
Most likely to return, I've got a tie between Chase and Chooch. 

There's this other marquee 2B free agent out there at the end of this season: Robinson Cano. He's going to get PAID somewhere. That's who everyone is going to be going after, not the 35-year-old with degenerative knees. I think Chase signs a deal like Jimmy Rollins did. I just can't even picture him in another uniform. 
I think they sign Chooch to a one year extension. Tommy Joseph is one of the Phillies top ranked prospects who had a great spring stint with the big league team and he'll get a whole year at AAA  to keep working on his game (and probably some time in the majors since Chooch does get hurt every now and then). They keep Chooch around one more year to "show the ropes" to Joseph, then Tommy takes over in 2015.

Least likely is Charlie.

Unless the Phillies win the World Series this year, I don't see Charlie coming back as manager. He's had a great run, I love everything about him, but it seems that the organization feels very strongly about Ryne Sandberg taking over after managing the Iron Pigs the last few seasons.  With Sandberg on the major league club's coaching staff this year it also makes an easy transition - whether it's at the end of the year or mid way through if things really take a turn for the worse in the 2014 season.

Kieran Carobine-

One of my favorite things about this organization over the past few years is that they have been signing guys who want to play.  I remember the days of David Bell, who in my opinion checked out mentally long before he was gone.  Guys like Halladay and Utley are stand up dudes.  They aren't going anywhere if given the option to stay.  However, a player like Halladay is not going to continue to pitch if he feels like he can't perform at the level he is accustomed to.

I think the Ruiz decision is a no-brainer.  This organization loves this guy.  He commands the staff well and is producing from both sides of the field.  Ruiz is the most like to come back.  I also feel that the front office will leave it up to Manuel whether or not he wants to come back.  He spoke in an interview about the things he has accomplished as a manager and gave all the credit to his players.  I don't feel he has the need to prove anything to anyone.  If he wants to continue to coach, I think he will.

Most likely to be back is Ruiz and we need to live with the idea of Halladay not wearing Phillies pinstripes after this season.

Jay Floyd-
I feel that the most likely of those Phillies to return in 2014 will be Roy Halladay.  While many fans a media types are expressing heavy concern over Roy's health, if there's one player that people can count on the get himself into game ready shape, it's Halladay.  Even if the Phils' righty ace misses some time this season, he loves pitching in Philadelphia and the organization adores him.  Roy never expressed any concern about being beside other hurlers that earned larger paychecks, which makes him the perfect candidate to return to the team on somewhat of a "home town discount".

The least likely of those four players to be with the club next season is Chase Utley.  Following my remarks about Halladay, I feel the exact opposite way about Utley.  While many folks are pleased with Utley's health and his steady workload all throughout spring training, I am just waiting for the annual knee setbacks to force the five-time All-Star out of action.  With three years of evidence that Utley can't hang, a collection of young infielders ready to make an impact in the big leagues, 2014 will feature a new face at second base for the Phillies.

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