Alright, that might be a bit of a stretch, but I am about as excited as one can be for a rebuilding baseball team.
I can’t pretend like I’m some sort of expert on this current team. With working a night shift and not getting cable, plus the Phillies being lousy I haven’t had much time or reason to fit the Phils into my sports schedule the last two years. I’m going to the home opener on the 11th and I imagine that will be my introduction to more than half of the team.
However, it’s that unfamiliarity, or newness rather, that has me most interested. It’s a totally rebuilt farm system which offers hope that contention isn’t too far off into the distant future. The fans have clamored for a regime change and organizational reboot for several years now and we finally have it.
It wasn’t just that the Phillies sucked the last couple of years, they were stuck in the past with burdensome contracts tied to players who fans hated (Papelbon), or just couldn’t produce anymore (Utley & Rollins.) Their organizational mindset of not fully embracing analytics was widely mocked throughout baseball and the national and local media.
With the exception of Ryan Howard and Chooch, this is an entirely new regime. Matt Klentak and Andy MacPhail are the new front office braintrust, secured with the backing of John Middleton, long a faceless owner who chose to remain behind the scenes and let David Montgomery be the public face of ownership. Now, although I know next to nothing about him other than he’s got some serious cash, I can tell he wants to get back to the days of contention, and consecutive game sellout streaks that stretch well into the hundreds.
The fact that the Phillies had the most successful run in franchise history just a few short years ago, is a bit part of why I think this rebuild will be much different than the Sixers. They watched the money come flowing in when their team of mostly homegrown talent went on five consecutive thrilling postseason runs. Surely ownership didn’t expect it to go south as badly as it did, which is why Middleton probably decided to step up and become the prominent member of ownership. There’s no way after tasting success like the Phillies had, ownership would willing to sink as low as the Sixers are at right now. They have more respect for themselves than that.
And unlike the Sixers which are still years away from being able to put together a real core group of talent, the Phillies have theirs mostly in place. Maikel Franco, a power-hitting third basemen the organization has been searching for since Scott Rolen. J.P. Crawford, the elite shortstop that, if everything goes according to plan, challenge’s J-Roll, for best shortstop in Phillies history. It’s also too easy too see Nick Williams, and Jorge Alfaro, locking down an outfield spot and catcher for the next decade respectively.
Aaron Nola, Jake Thompson and Jared Eickoff should comprise the majority of a solid rotation. Add in a potential ace with the No.1 overall pick in June and now we’re talking.
The bullpen? Yeah, Ken Giles would’ve been nice to keep around, but the quantity and quality of prospects he brought in return is more important. I have no idea who currently comprises the Phillies bullpen and I’m fairly certain it won’t matter this year.
For the first time since the Phillies had four aces and a lineup full of all-stars and MVP candidates, I’m excited for baseball. I likely won’t watch more than 10 games this year in full and I can’t name the starting outfielders or who’s the first bat off the bench. There will not be a postseason run this year in Philadelphia, nor next year most likely. But there is finally a sense of optimism.
Other random Phillies and baseball musings:
- Would love to see Howard put together a semblance of a decent year so the Phillies could get a decent prospect in return. After the last few miserable years and all the money he was paid, can’t we at least get something in return? He’s going to hit mainly righties in a platoon with Darin Ruf. Some AL team will call if he puts up ok numbers. Plus, I kinda want to see him be productive again, however unlikely that seems. When the Phillies were elite, he wasn’t their best player, but he could certainly be the most awe-inspiring with the power binges he would go on.
- I’m really pumped for Franco. Would love to seem him become a 30-homer, 100 RBI stud.
- Glad Pete Mackanin got an extension. He seems like the right guy to manage this young clubhouse and get them to play hard, if the second half of last year and spring training was any indication.
- Wish I knew when the Phillies were going to bring up Crawford. If it’s a weekend game at home, I’ll but tickets today. In the meantime, I’ll definitely
- I’m sorry, but MLB butchered their Opening Day this year with two early games on a Sunday. I simply could not care less. I’ll tune in a bit to the World Series rematch between the Royals and Mets, but I was oblivious to the two early games as most of the country probably was.
Let’s make some other random MLB predictions.
NL Champion: Giants over Mets
AL Champion: Blue Jays over Angels
World Series Champion: Giants It’s an even year. You kinda have to pick them.
NL Cy Young: Jacob DeGrom
Al Cy Young: Sonny Gray
NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt
AL MVP: Mike Trout