Chase, Ryan, and Chooch- Closing the Book on 2008


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Last Friday, Cole Hamels gave his farewell press conference at Citizens Bank Park before riding off into the sunset, or pitching for Texas. That very night, Pat Burrell took his place on the Phillies Wall-of-Fame, receiving his jersey from the 2008 manager, Charlie Manuel. Last night, Jimmy Rollins took his 42 second standing ovation in his return to Citizens Bank Park- wearing Dodger blue. Only about a week ago, Shane Victorino joined his third team since 2008, while the long-gone Jayson Werth was doing his rehab assignment in the Lehigh Valley, for the Washington Nationals AAA affiliate. Pedro Feliz is out of baseball, as is Brad Lidge. Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ are in Pittsburgh, Jamie Moyer has a kid who got drafted, God only knows what Brett Myers is doing, Kyle Kendrick’s wheels are falling off, and Ryan Madson is a low-budget reliever in Kansas City.

2008 is pretty much long over- unless you’re Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Carlos Ruiz. They remain in Philadelphia, playing out their contract extensions signed long after 2008. Ruiz and Howard both have a year to go on their deals, while Utley could be gone after this season, given that his vesting option won’t be vesting, and he could reach free agency for the first time in his career. This means that if things play out as one might expect at this point, after 2016, none of them will be Phillies.

There are some fans who dream of Chase Utley hanging on, and playing with J.P. Crawford someday. Don’t count me in, I’m ready for change. The 2013 Red Sox team that won the World Championship has basically been completely dismantled. The 2011 Cardinals no longer exist. The Giants look a bit different than they did in 2010, and the 2009 Yankees are slowly but surely leaving town. Other than perhaps the 2014 Giants title team, for the most part the teams who have won the World Series since the Phillies have seen major overhauls to their rosters- the kinds of overhauls I’ve been calling for since 2012.

The Phillies have certainly begun to move on from 2008, and it’s time they complete that task. It’s not that these guys weren’t awesome ballplayers, they were. It’s not that they weren’t good citizens of the city, they were. If it does take the Phillies through 2016 to finally complete the “ending” of the 2008 team, it’s not the worst thing ever. They should just certainly try to complete it before then. All three of these guys, like Jimmy Rollins in LA now, or Cole Hamels in Texas, or Blanton, Madson, Victorino, and Werth on more competitive teams, deserve another shot to win. That’s not going to happen in 2016 in Philadelphia, most likely, and it’s not going to happen with them in their roles here. Whether it’s moving Chase now to the Angels or Cubs, moving Howard now or in the off-season to an AL club in need of a DH, or moving Chooch to a contender that desperately could use a veteran catcher, the Phillies should aggressively attempt to move on before next season.

It’s probably more important now that they’ve done so much to upgrade the minor league system than it was even before. After the 2016 season, the Phillies will have more than ten significant prospects who will require a 40 man roster spot to protect them from the Rule-5 draft. For the Phillies, getting a look at more young players in the Major League, and upper minor league levels, is crucial. Figuring out who is expendable in trades, and who is staying amongst the backlog of upper level pitching prospects is important. Figuring out who the ideal three outfielders of the future are in the system is important. Figuring out replacements at catcher, first, and second is important.

I look forward to the day Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are put on the Wall-of-Fame. Same for Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, and Shane Victorino. I still consider the 2008 World Series to be the greatest moment I’ve ever had as a sports fan. It’s the past though now. I’m not 25 anymore- and neither are any of them. I look forward to a lot more moments like Jimmy had last night, in our near future.

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