Silver Linings For The 2015 Philadelphia Phillies

April 4th, 2015 by Mike H. | Filed under Baseball, General, Phillies.

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The Phillies are just days away from the beginning of a potentially life altering nightmarish season. Cliff Lee, and the hope of trading him for anything of value at the deadline, is lost. Ryan Howard is still Ryan Howard. Is Chase Utley still the man? Maybe 4-5 days a week if he’s expected to be productive the entire season. I’m not trying to be all doom and gloom or a pre-2008 typical Negadelphian, but let’s be realistic, the Phillies have the potential to be a 100-loss team this year and will battle for the top pick in the 2016 First Year Player Draft. That being said, there is still plenty of reason to head to the ballpark this summer, whether it be in South Philly or various points around the Delaware Valley and the Gulf Coast of Florida.

At the major league level, first and foremost, just about every fan should be ready to sing in unison, “Nah, nah, nah, nah. Nah, nah, nah, nah. Hey. Hey. Goodbye.” Yes friends, everyone’s favorite General Manager Ruben Amaro Junior is FINALLY a lame duck. Amaro’s contract runs out at year’s end and I cannot imagine ANY reason to bring the man who systematically ruined the franchise from to top to bottom to be allowed back. Amaro has been the poster boy for trying to dig yourself out of a bad situation since taking over in 2009.

As far as on the field goes, I think that the Phillies have could potentially have a player similar to Shane Victorino in Odubel Herrera. Doobs, a rule five draft pick from the Rangers last winter, has not only made the team, but supplanted Ben Revere as the starting center fielder. For the last 12 months, Herrera has done nothing but provide offense:

  • 2014 MiLB (A+/AA): .315/.383/.388 with 21 Stolen Bases (67.7%) and 26 Extra Base Hits
  • 2014 Winter League: .372/.432/.556 with 9 Stolen Bases (100%) and 23 Extra Base Hits
  • 2015 Spring Training: .355/.379/.468 with 6 Stolen Bases (100%) and 3 Extra Base Hits

No one is saying that Herrera is going to be a 20/20 guy in the middle of the lineup, but if you can get 15 doubles, 5 triples, and 20 stolen bases at the top of the lineup, that leads to a lot of run scoring opportunities.

On the mound, the biggest bright spot is the core of the bullpen, namely Ken Giles. Giles experienced a slight lower back strain at the end of spring training, but at this point, there is no reason for alarm. If you don’t know by now, and if you don’t you obviously aren’t a diehard or you just came out of a coma, Giles defies the common definition of a top reliever. Any premiere reliever is referred to as a fireman, whereas Giles should be referred to as a pyromaniac. Instead of putting out fires, Giles is mixing “high heat” with “straight gas” and “throwing smoke”. If for any reason Papelbon is unavailable, short or long-term, Giles is ready to take over.

At the minor league level, names like Franco and Crawford will be premiere attractions for offensive attention in the organization. Personally, I’m really looking forward to see how Roman Quinn progresses as a hitter. He currently strikes out a Ryan Howard-esque level currently, averaging roughly 68 strikeouts in just 285 at bats in each of his first three seasons. He is showing potential as his OBP each year has been roughly 90 points higher than his batting average. Couple that with his speed, 30+ stolen bases in each year, despite suffering a ruptured achilles in 2013. If he can stay healthy, and cut down on the strikeouts, Quinn could be primed for a breakout season.

Offensively, the Phillies don’t have much at ANY level, minor or major league. They do however have a good base of pitching coming thru the system and have a glut of talent at Clearwater and Reading that includes 2014 top draft pick Aaron Nola and newcomers Ben Lively, Tom Windle, and Zach Eflin, all of which were acquired via trade. While the Threshers and Fightin’ Phils will lose a lot of 4-3 and 3-2 games, a name to keep an eye on is Adam Morgan. Morgan was primed to compete for a spot in the Phillies rotation in 2013, but ultimately ended up in the minors and under the knife due to a tear in his rotator cuff. Now back close to 100%, Morgan is once again one of the Phillies most advanced pitching prospects and could potentially be one of the first options should an injury or trade happen.

So to sum up, potential silver linings:

  • MLB position player: Odubel “Doobs” Herrera
  • MLB pitcher: Ken Giles
  • MiLB position player: Roman Quinn
  • MiLB pitcher: Adam Morgan

Finally, everyone likes to make bold predictions as we enter each season. So here are mine for 2015:

  • Ruben Amaro Jr WILL NOT be fired until the end of the season
  • The Phillies will lose LESS than 100 games
  • Cole Hamels WILL NOT be traded due to glut of ace caliber pitchers available at the trade deadline and lack of “aggresiveness of other GMs”
  • Chase Utley WILL be traded to a West Coast team
  • Ryan Howard WILL be benched due to the success of the combination of Darin Ruf, Cody Asche, and Maikel Franco

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