I’ve spent some time following the Phillies this preseason it’s fair to say that they’re in line for a fairytale season. That fairytale unfortunately is Humpty Dumpty. The Phillies are a fragile, bumbling, egg seemingly bound to splatter across the city and truly stink up the joint if you’re a pessimist. If you’re not so perpetually hateful of joy, then they’re a wildcard contender firmly swaying on the fence. Either way, no one is comfortable.
At this point, everyone knows the story. A young team raised through the farm system came together and built a truly great era of Phillies baseball that arguably underachieved with one championship. Now that team is old, overpaid, and not nearly as likely to contend in October.
How unlikely are they to contend? ESPN figures the Phillies to be the second worst team in the entire league placing them ahead of only the Sixers-esque Houston Astros with a projected win total of 66 games. If you’d like to go with Vegas odds, the Phillies are projected in the ballpark of 77 wins for the year. In other words, it’s a good time to check out mytopsportsbooks.com.
However, the point of all this is not to discuss the problems of this year. In fact, I’m not interested in next year all that much either. I don’t care if Humpty Dumpty can stay together, I want a different fantasy–and it won’t be soon before long.
Why? The core issue of the Phillies problem isn’t actually age. It’s sentiment. the Phillies are an organization that has supported their beloved veterans to a fault. They’re the anti-Banner Eagles causing a frustrating, yet admirable quandry.
Therefore, the only way to quash the love-fest is to have it die. In 2016, the World Series era will have died a horrible death. Jimmy Rollins will be gone, as will Cliff Lee (likely opt out), Jonathan Papelbon (expiring contract), and Chase Utley (retirement). The Phillies will be left with nothing but Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels, and Ryan Howard (then 38, 33, and 37 respectively) to symbolize a bygone era. Fortunately the Phillies will likely spend the rest
By removing those contracts, the Phillies will have freed up what is $64 million dollars in payroll this season. They’re currently spending $180 million total in 2014. Add in the value that management won’t spend on last ditch effort signings like AJ Burnett ($15 million) and Marlon Byrd ($8 million), they’ll have a ton of money to rebuild with a more stable foundation (and maybe a new GM?).
Also, by virtue of a low likelihood of success, the odds of the organization again hitching their cart to current players is unlikely. They won’t hold the same high-profile cache which leads to over-valuing your own players.
Am I fantasizing here? Yes. But since I can’t push Humpty Dumpty off the wall myself, I’ll dream of a clean slate.
Postseason baseball has been awesome this year. The play-in game, however unfair a concept, certainly didn’t make the playoffs any less interesting. All four division series went 5 games, Raul Ibanez stole A-Rod’s emergency stash of mojo, the Nats blew a 2-run lead in what could have been the final inning of the NLDS, and Chipper Jones’ last professional baseball game featured this…
But as delightful as the experience has been so far, it is, of course, bittersweet. Our Phillies have been toast since July, and though their late playoff push was encouraging, it ultimately did little to pacify an increasingly irritated fan base. The Eagles are floundering, there’s no hockey, and the Sixers are missing their biggest acquisition. We need some catharsis. I’m here to help.
Some of the problems that led to the Phillies’ 81-81 finish were apparent from the start of spring training. Although nobody could forsee Doc’s malady or Cliff’s poor luck, there were obvious issues at left field, all four infield spots, and in the bullpen. It was Amaro’s job to fill these gaps. Now with 162 games-worth of hindsight at my disposal, I’m going to revisit Amaro’s most important offseason acquisitions and issue his final report card.
There’s a decent chance he’ll get held back a grade.