Club 2: Philadelphia Phillies
Spring training is upon us, and Opening Day is just over a month away. It is a season of renewed hope for the 29 teams who went home without hoisting the World Series trophy at the end of last season. While the statheads and geeks such as myself are poring over last year’s numbers looking at potential sleepers for fantasy baseball, the real athletes are out on the field, taking their batting and fielding practice and getting ready for the new season.
The 30/30 Club will look at all 30 major league clubs over the next 30 days. Some teams have made moves to make a run for this year’s World Series title, while other teams have positioned themselves for the long run by moving their veteran stars to get younger. The team being previewed today is neither of these, but they are a team that is on the rise – the Philadelphia Phillies.
2017 Record: 66-96, last in the National League East
Acquisitions: RP Pat Neshek (free agent), RP Tommy Hunter (free agent), 1B Carlos Santana (free agent), 3B Will Middlebrooks (minors – invite to ST), RP Pedro Beato (minors – invite to ST), SS Adam Rosales (minors – invite to ST), 2B Ryan Flaherty (minors – invite to ST), OF Collin Cowgill (minors – invite to ST)
Departures: SP Clay Buchholz (free agency), OF Daniel Nava (free agency), IF Andres Blanco (free agency), OF Hyun-Soo Kim (free agency), SS Freddy Galvis (trade with Padres)
CF Odubel Herrera
2B Cesar Hernandez
1B Carlos Santana
LF Rhys Hoskins
RF Nick Williams
3B Maikel Franco
C Jorge Alfaro
SS J.P. Crawford
SP Aaron Nola
SP Jerad Eickhoff
SP Vince Velazquez
SP Nick Pivetta
SP Ben Lively/Zach Eflin/Mark Leiter/Jake Thompson
Looking at the Phillies roster, the only position battle that could develop is for the #5 starter and for the front end of the bullpen (the mop-up and long guys), but that’s only if the Phillies stand pat (see below). Otherwise, the Phillies roster looks pretty settled for the 2018 season.
After seeing the Philadelphia Eagles win their first Super Bowl, the attention in the City of Brotherly Love now turns its’ focus to the Phillies. There is a lot of optimism in Phillies camp, as they will have a full season of slugger Rhys Hoskins (18 home runs in just 170 at bats) in left field as well as top prospect J.P. Crawford at shortstop. The Phillies made the first big splash of free agency when they signed 1B Carlos Santana to a three-year deal worth $60 million. The Santana signing relegated starting OF Aaron Altherr to 4th outfielder status, although I can certainly see a situation where Altherr still gets 400 at bats filling in for Hoskins, Herrera and if Nick Williams struggles in RF. The rotation is young and developing, and there are rumors that the team is talking to former Cy Young winner Jake Arrieta to become the ace of their staff, which would improve the team immediately. The Phillies aren’t ready to contend for the NL East title just yet, but they could be a team that sneaks up on everyone much like the Milwaukee Brewers did last season.