Ruben Amaro said shortly after the off-season ended that the Phillies were good for one big splash. The smart money was on Cuban slugger Yasmani Tomas as that piece. But that didn’t come close to happening. It appears that the big off-season move is the addition of Aaron Harang, who signed for one season for $5 million, which is just $1.2 million over the league average.
Harang, 36, a once superior starter, had a solid 2014 going 12-12 with a 3.57 ERA. The hulking righthander, who threw for over 200 innings for the first time since 2007, bolsters a staff, which should also include, barring trade or injury, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, David Buchanan and Jerome Williams.
“Aaron brings a wealth of durability and experience to our rotation,” Ruben Amaro said in a statement. “He had a very solid season for the Braves last year and will complement the lefthanders in our rotation nicely.”
Amaro isn’t exaggerating. The big question is if Harang can repeat last season’s performance. If Harang can approximate 2014, Hamels pitches as well as expected, Lee is healthy and the bullpen comes close to what it accomplished last season, the pitching will be there.
“The Phillies do have some nice arms but where is the offense going to come from,” a NL scout said. “The Phillies traded their best power hitter (Marlon Byrd) and Jimmy Rollins had a good year offensively (4th best WAR of any shortstop in the MLB). I doubt Freddy Galvis is going to come close to what Rollins does at the plate. Who is going to step up to the plate for the Phillies?”
The Phillies should indeed be hard-pressed to score runs this season unless some players can recapture their youth or others have career years. Harang, Hamels and Lee may need to post a lot of zeros to give the Phillies a chance to win.