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Inbox: Which numbers should Phillies retire?

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers fans' questions
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

You wrote Wednesday about some of the Phillies' numbers and if they should be retired or not. Whose numbers do you think should be retired?
-- Henry J., Philadelphia

Notice how I did not write that this is an easy decision? It is not. In fact, I'm glad I don't make it.

You wrote Wednesday about some of the Phillies' numbers and if they should be retired or not. Whose numbers do you think should be retired?
-- Henry J., Philadelphia

Notice how I did not write that this is an easy decision? It is not. In fact, I'm glad I don't make it.

But Jimmy Rollins' No. 11 should be retired (or permanently iced), even if he does not make the Hall of Fame. He is the franchise's all-time hits leader. He won the 2007 National League MVP Award. He played a key role in their successes from 2007-11. And while I understand the Phillies have an unwritten policy in place, it simply does not make sense to have Jim Bunning's No. 14 retired and not Rollins' No. 11. In my opinion, Rollins meant much more to the organization and city than Bunning.

Utley's No. 26 should be retired, too. He is the greatest second baseman in Phillies history and despite his injury history, he ranks as one of the best second basemen in baseball history. Like Rollins, few Phillies have ever meant so much to the city and organization.

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It gets trickier from there. How do the Phillies retire Nos. 11 and 26, but not Ryan Howard's No. 6? They seem like a package deal. Cole Hamels is 11th in franchise history in WAR, according to Baseball Reference. He earned 2008 World Series and NLCS MVP honors. There is a case there, but something tells me no.

But then how does one retire No. 6, 11 and 26 and not No. 35?

The thing here is that you don't want to go crazy retiring everybody's numbers because it diminishes the honor.

But remember, there are other ways to honor players and managers. The Phillies have statues of Mike Schmidt, Richie Ashburn, Steve Carlton and Robin Roberts at Citizens Bank Park. Perhaps the Phillies will go in that direction for Hamels and others. But at the very least I don't think anybody should wear Nos. 11 and 26 again.

I know it's only been a few weeks, but do you think the Phillies offense will be better this year? Please say yes.
-- Lucy I., Downingtown, Pa.

There is nowhere to go but up. The Phillies finished last in baseball in runs in 2016, scoring 39 fewer than the 29th-ranked Braves. If you believe in the talent the Phillies have in the big leagues -- i.e. Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, Cesar Hernandez, Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp, etc., have not reached their potential -- the offense should improve almost by default.

Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders should help. Phillies left fielders had a .612 OPS last season, which was 29th in baseball. Phillies right fielders had a .634 OPS, which was last. Kendrick had a .691 OPS last year, although analytics tell the Phillies that Kendrick should be better than that. Saunders had an .815 OPS, which would have been the best mark on the Phillies.

One thing that has struck me in camp is how many players say hitting coach Matt Stairs has helped them with their swings or approaches at the plate. This is not me asking, "So how has Matt Stairs been?" It is players offering an unsolicited opinion. Now, I know better than to expect miracles for the Phillies offense, but confidence is a huge part of hitting. If Stairs has these hitters believing in themselves -- Charlie Manuel excelled in this department -- that certainly will not hurt.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

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