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Early exit in postseason new to this team

BY TOM SCHALATA
So, this is what it's like to watch the World Series without the Phillies. Phillie fans certainly have been spoiled.

Not since the Colorado Rockies bounced us from the playoffs in 2007 have we found ourselves in this position.

This year's Fall Classic is host to two "Cinderella" teams, the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants. Our rooting interest lies with Cliff Lee and the Rangers, since one of baseball's best pitchers, if the "THE" best pitcher, deserves to win after bouncing around with four different teams in a little over one year.

While the Phillies should be poised to win another division title in 2011, and favored to make another successful run through the playoffs, there should be more of a makeover than last year.

At the top of the list is Jayson Werth. It is unlikely that he will be back in Philly next year. The free agent will test the market, and may be headed to the Yankees or Red Sox. He will certainly be the best outfielder on the market.

Philly fans are likely to see Domonic Brown or a platoon with Ben Francisco. There is even talk of a return for Pat "the Bat" Burrell. Pat Who? Boo hoo. Could be!

Also of concern, Raul Ibanez is 38, and earning a hefty salary ($12.16 Million). Rollins is in the last year of his contract, as well.

As far as pitching goes, Jamie Moyer, Chad Durbin and Jose Contreras are free agents, and the Phils declined the option on J. C. Romero. So, the bullpen needs to be re-tooled and the bench needs to be tweaked. Sweeney probably won't be back, either.

In the past, I would have expected the Phillies to fill-in with some secondary players, and make due, but since Ruben Amaro Jr. has assumed the position of G.M., I am not so sure.

Don't expect him to re-sign Werth, get Cliff Lee back, and add some high priced bullpen and bench players, but with the line-up getting old, this core group has one more shot or two left. I expect major changes in 2012.

The off-season makes for some interesting discussion and speculation, but heads up Phillies' fans, pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in about 100 days!

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