By TJ ENGLE
The 2012 Major League Baseball season is still months away.
That isn't going to stop a die-hard baseball fan especially this true Philadelphia Phillies fan from talking about what's happening now.
There's a lot going on with "America's pastime" right now something that I expect will continue through the off-season and right up until the Phillies' opener on April 5th in Pittsburgh.
Sure, many of you sports nuts out there may say it's time for basketball now since the National Basketball Association finally came to agreement with the Players Association and will officially start the season on Christmas Day. Talk about a true Christmas gift for hoop fans especially you Mr. McFarland!
But I'll pass. Don't get me wrong, I follow the NBA. It's just that football and baseball are my main loves.
As far as football is concerned, the Kansas City Chiefs and my son's Philadelphia Eagles are both in need of miracles to make the postseason. There still may be that chance, but who are we kidding?
So it's time for me to turn my attention solely to baseball which is my favorite sport anyway.
The other day I happened to be browsing the Phillies website and the first thing that caught my attention was that the team's focus this off-season is "on shortstop."
Jackpot! Like that idea totally. Got to keep J-Roll in town, Mr. Amaro. Please! Gotta be done.
In my eyes, he's has been the heart and soul of the Phillies during their run of five consecutive NL East Division titles. He has progressed into the player he is today through 15 years of professional baseball all in the Phillies' organization. So help him be able to retire in the "City of Brotherly Love" just like Michael Jack Schmidt did in the late '80s.
If Rollins returns, he will find an old friend in the Phillies clubhouse.
Back in early November, the Phillies brought back a former player from the the early 2000s Jim Thome.
With Ryan Howard starting the season on the DL, it gives Charlie Manuel a chance to use him at first base after strictly serving as a DH in the American League the last few years. Thome had two of his top-five home run outputs as a Phillie back in 2003 (47 home runs) and 2004 (42).
Hopefully, the Phillies will help him get a World Series ring to go along with those 600 career home runs.
But Thome hasn't been the only off-season addition so far.
A couple of weeks ago, the Phillies shocked me by signing former Red Sox closer in Jonathan Papelbon rather than giving Ryan Madson the job.
As far as Papelbon is concerned, I guess they know what they're doing, but I've always like Madson and think he can still be an effective closer.
Three days later, the Phillies signed Brian Schneider to a one-year deal. Glad to see that happen. He served his purpose as Carlos Ruiz's back-up and came through when he needed to. Plus, it's always an added bonus to see a home-town product representing the Lehigh Valley in the pros.
The Phillies still weren't finished, however, as they traded for Colorado Rockies' utility player Ty Wigginton. Wigginton has played with the Mets, the Pirates, the Rays, the Astros, the Orioles and the Rockies. Is that a good thing or a bad thing that he has played for so many different teams? I guess we will have to wait and see.
One thing Wigginton gives the Phils is someone who can play multiple positions, including firstbase, which will be another substitute in Howard's absence. He has also played third, which will help Polanco's battle with his own injury. He can also help platoon in the outfield.
Sometime in the near future, we'll see where Rollins ends up. I hope and pray that Amaro and the rest of the Phillies higher-ups decide to keep J-Roll in town. It would also be nice to see Madson and Ibanez wear that "P" on their hat one more season.
The bottom line though is no matter who leaves and who comes back, the season needs to end with a World Series title for the Phillies.