The Clown Show Nears It’s End- The 2015 Phillies


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It’s almost over. Remind yourself of that every time you watch the Phillies. In January, when it’s snowy and cold outside and there isn’t much to watch on TV, you’ll miss this. Really. Even as bad as it is, it’s still baseball, and that is still great. So I’m savoring every bit of the remaining baseball season.

The Phillies are 56-91, a game and a half clear of Atlanta for the worst record in baseball, and comfortably behind Miami now with 15 games left. They will take a road trip through Atlanta, Miami, and Washington, then come home and finish up with the Mets and Marlins. While the Washington and New York series’ sound big, it’s possible the division will be wrapped up by then. They may not play one important game amongst the final 15.

The Phillies have to win 7 of the final 15 games, something I don’t see happening right now. This could be the first 100 loss season in a very long time, and the second #1 overall pick in the last 20 years. That last one netted us Pat Burrell, and began a rebirth of Philadelphia baseball that eventually lead us to a World Championship and five years dominating the NL East. If the Phillies are returning to that, chances are some of the pieces were obtained this year. A quick look at the roster moving forward says:

  • Starting pitchers- Matt Harrison, Aaron Nola, Adam Morgan, and Jerad Eickhoff will go into the off-season with inside tracks on returning to the rotation next year. Alec Asher is very safe to see time next year, and while he’s struggled in the majors, he was pretty solid in AAA. Jesse Biddle is likely to be back on the 40 man, and in AAA next season, while I think Joely Rodriguez will be back, but converted to a full-time reliever. Cliff Lee, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang, and Jerome Williams are all as good as gone, and Jon Pettibone should be cleared off of the 40 man moving forward. This leaves David Buchanan and Severino Gonzalez as the question marks. I’m not sure why both would be back, but neither is an easy cut, either. Gonzalez season is already over, but Buchanan could use a couple of good starts to finish the season.
  • Relievers- Ken Giles will be back, obviously. I believe Jeanmar Gomez, Elvis Araujo, and Luis Garcia will also return for 2016. Justin De Fratus is arbitration eligible, and while I believe he will be back, that’s not a lock. Hector Neris is a question mark for me, and Adam Loewen should go. Mario Hollands missed this season, but he should get a full-season to recover and show something next season. Colton Murray and Nefi Ogando are young enough, and have options, so both should be back and in AAA to start. Dalier Hinojosa and Ken Roberts are both on the bubble right now, with Hinojosa being more likely to stay, of the two.
  • Infield- Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez, and Freddy Galvis all earned a return audition in 2016. Cameron Rupp played better than I expected, and deserves a return too. Ryan Howard is probably not going anywhere for 2016, so the starters are fairly stagnant for next season. Carlos Ruiz appears to have lost his job by slow-bleed, and it’ll be interesting to see if he comes back.
  • Outfield- Odubel Herrera has earned a return in 2016. I suspect that Dom Brown will be non-tendered this off-season, and will be gone. I think Cody Asche won’t be penciled in as a starter. Jeff Francoeur has had a nice season, but I doubt that he’s a starter, if he’s even back next season. Aaron Altherr will probably play a significant role, either as a starter of part-time starter. That leaves at least one starting spot to fill this off-season.
  • Bench- My sense is that Chooch or another internal option (Gabriel Lino?) will be the back-up catcher next season. I also think Darnell Sweeney is a lock to return. I would like to see the Phillies tender Andres Blanco, as he has some real value in his versatility and bat. Cody Asche would seem to have value as both an infielder and outfielder off the bench, and should be back as well. That would leave one spot. Kelly Dugan will go back to AAA, and Kratz, d’Arnaud, and Bogusevic are all probably gone. Danks is gone. You could re-sign Francoeur, and that fills up your bench. You could also keep Darin Ruf, who wasn’t as good this season, but at least can play corner outfield and first base. You could skip over both and call up Tommy Joseph. Of course you could cut both Ruf and Joseph if you end up protecting Stassi, which allows you to re-sign Francoeur or someone else. I think Darin Ruf really needs a good finish to 2015 if he wants to be back in 2016 with the Phillies.

So if you’re keeping score, I basically want a top end starter, a set-up man, and a short-term fix corner outfielder for 2016. I’m saying goodbye to Lee, Billingsley, Harang, Williams, Pettibone, Brown, d’Arnaud, Kratz, Bogusevic, Loewen, Roberts, and Danks for certain, some combination of Francoeur, Ruf, and Joseph, possibly Chooch, Hinojosa, De Fratus, Neris, Buchanan, and Gonzalez. I’m absolutely protecting Williams and Quinn, and others like Lino and Stassi I lean towards protecting over older veterans, if possible. I’d like to make a Rule 5 pick too. The Phillies have 47 players, have 12 easy cuts, and I want them to add three free agents, a Rule 5 pick, definitely protect two guys, and try to protect two more. This means that the Phillies need to clear three roster spots from the tougher cuts, which will make for a more interesting off-season than the season was.

It also means that while the baseball on the field is terrible right now, it’s not worthless. Lots of guys playing are fighting for their careers. Starting spots, roster spots, and 40 man spots are all in the balance over these next few weeks. Beyond that even, it’s baseball, and it will be over soon. Then what? You’ll go through your normal Eagles, Sixers, and Flyers routine, and you’ll miss sitting in the sun at Citizens Bank Park and watching baseball. Even bad baseball. And you know what? Missing this fun isn’t too much fun.

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