Despite everything you may think, the Phillies might not be done just yet.
I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I did indeed claim that this team, currently sitting at 70-80 on the year, could finish with 90 wins. Obviously with that out of the question, I am not claiming the Phillies will make any sort of playoff run this season. Though, with some flashes of young brilliance, a playoff run in the near future isn’t as far-fetched as some may think.
Believe me, I was one of the ones spouting the “this year or never” standpoint on the Phillies. The core of the team, the players that many fans have grown to know and love, are getting old. Chase Utley is 34, Howard 33, and Rollins will be 35 by the start of next season. In addition to the team’s aging players, many questions regarding resigning players have popped up. Halladay and Ruiz will both be free agents, with management yet to comment on whether they will be resigned.
However, even in darkness, there is light. Dominic Brown has had a breakout year, and seems to be developing into the player scouts thought he could. Third basemen Cody Asche has shown decent pop after taking over third following the Michael Young trade.
Darin Ruf has proved that he truly does deserve the nickname “Babe”. Ruf has jacked 13 home runs in under 200 at bats this season, showing 30+ homer potential at the big league level.
If Ben Revere is able to put up the numbers he was pre-injury, he can be an excellent table center with the speed to turn every single into a double, every double into a triple, and every triple into a slightly more easily attained triple. Oh, and its also worth noting that each player mentioned in the above paragraph is 27 years of age or younger.
While pitching is still a question, the Phillies, given the opportunity, can field a young but promising team for the next few years. Though Rollins is (unfortunately) under contract for two more years and (unfortunately) has declined to waive his no-trade clause, the time for the aging “core” of the Phillies to cede that title to the young ones is quickly approaching.
Two large questions remain regarding the future of the Phillies. One is, and seemingly always will be, the bullpen. Time and time again, the bullpen has tried, failed, shuffled, tried, and failed again. Relief pitchers such as Chad Durbin (using the term “relief” loosely here), Raul Valdes, and Jose Contreras are dead and gone. The aging, ineffective bullpen arms of the past have been traded, released, and demoted to make way for the fresh arms of the future.
With the looming question mark that is the Phillies bullpen getting younger, the second of the two unanswered questions regarding the Phillies future becomes evident.
Can the young players continue to perform adequately at a major league level? It is that question that we will have to wait to see answered next season.
I’d like to make some prediction here to conclude this article, but is anyone going to listen to the guy who said Jimmy Rollins could have another 20 homer season to help the Phillies push their win total to 90 games?