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Outta’ Right Field: Filling the outfield gaps

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Free agent outfielder B.J. Upton of the Tampa Bay Rays could be a suitable fit for the Phillies outfield in 2013. (MCT)

With the hot stove heating up, the Phillies will be returning to headlines with offseason acquisitions.

Until the official signings and trades start rolling in, the Phillies are already on the forefront of the rumor mill.

The team has been linked to star outfielders Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton. Additionally, the Phillies have rumored interest in third baseman Kevin Youkilis as well as outfielder Cody Ross, both of whom are on the lesser end of the free-agent spectrum.

I’ve seen many people jump to instant conclusions about the prospect of the Phillies signing one of these big names, many of them negative. But remember the Phillies are doing exactly what they have to do.

After an 81-81 season sent a five-year division reign to a crashing halt, the Phillies have to elevate themselves back to that level, mainly to keep the interest of the city. In doing so, they need to assemble the best team possible at the right price.

Ruben Amaro Jr. has a tough task. He has to work hard, work fast and work on a budget. But he has to analyze each and every option with great detail.

So get over how Ross was a Phillie killer in the 2010 NLCS. Try to get past the health risk that Hamilton is. Think about every aspect of each player’s game. The Phillies are taking all things into consideration.

Baseball is not about assembling the best team money can buy. It is about getting nine players to give their all on the field for 162 games and then some to win a championship. If those players happen to be superstars, the Phillies will take a chance and gamble. And there is a decent chance their gamble will pay off successfully in terms of signing the players they want.

But signing players doesn’t mean the Phillies instantly improve.

There is a reason Ross, Hamilton, Upton or Bourn could find a home in Philadelphia. They fill a legitimate need for the Phillies. The Phillies need to find the fit for them. And they have to act quickly, before the slew of other teams takes the options away.

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