Caution on the Phillies Timeline


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Perhaps the Phillies fooled you. A week ago they had just swept San Diego at Petco Park, and their minor league affiliates were crushing opponents at all levels. The talk began- maybe this team can be good next year, articles came out about 2017, and multiple rookies in this line-up were getting talked up as at least fringe Rookie-of-the-Year contenders. You would have thought this team was shocking you by contending early, like the Astros, Cubs, or Mets this year.

Then the week happened, and well, yeah. Arizona beat up the Phillies for two of three, and then Milwaukee swept them. Meanwhile, the AAA team won one game this week.  In other words, the players most likely to make the 2016 Phillies who are in the organization now were not very good this week, and the team lost games. The Phillies now have a 46-72 record, they’re back in the NL East basement, and it’s back to talking about the #1 pick next season.

We knew this would happen though, right? The Phillies traded away four veteran big leaguers with value when they were already terrible. The team might have been playing well right after, but no one is mistaking a rotation with Harang, Williams, and a rotating seat for AAA arms for a contending rotation. No one is mistaking this line-up for the juggernaut it looked like right out of the All-Star break. This rotation is being pulled along by Adam Morgan and Aaron Nola, both of whom have ERA’s over four on the season, and both of whom will probably be shut down over innings concerns in September. This line-up is riding the youthful successes of Odubel Herrera, Cesar Hernandez, Maikel Franco, and Freddy Galvis, none of whom has ever completed a major league season as a starter. There is no legitimate set-up man in the bullpen. The team still has offensive black-holes at catcher, first, and right field, as well as defensive problems at several spots. The 2015 Phillies are not a good team all of a sudden, nor were they early. They just played well enough to give themselves a shot to not lose 100 games. That was as much as they could hope for.

None of this is to say that you shouldn’t hope for an improved team in 2016, or a contender by 2017. They do have a deep minor league system, and they do have money. Those two things help a lot. They have lots of payroll flexibility moving forward, and more starting pitchers than they can possibly end up keeping. These are good things. Perhaps things will turn around fast. Perhaps they won’t too. We just can’t know how fast the Nick Williams, Roman Quinns, or Jake Thompsons are helping the Phillies, or if they even will end up doing so. Not today, but maybe soon. This continual speeding up of the timeline that some fans were going through needed a caution flag thrown at it. They got that.

Now we just have to finish out 2015, get a look at a few more young guys, and hope for the best. In the meantime, we will probably still finish last, fetch a high pick in next year’s draft, and head into an off-season where our manager and general manager positions may just be changing. Once we get through all of that, and next year’s Spring Training, and maybe a month or two of 2016, ask me about the timeline for the Phillies contending again. I might even have a different answer by then.

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