What Can Phillies Fans Look Forward To In 2015?
These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer fan and the sunshine rooter will, in this crisis, shrink from supporting their team. What can we look forward to in 2015? The answer is: not much. But all is not lost for Phillies fans. The first thing you have to do is abandon all hope for this year. There will be no competing with other teams in the division. The Phillies will finish last, there is no doubt.
The offense basically has no power in it. The starting rotation after Hamels is a patchwork of journeymen and young pitchers who never wore the “prospect” label. And that’s with Hamels still here, which may not be for too long. Yeah, the bullpen looks solid, but you need to have the lead before they really become relevant.
But once you forget about this year, once you don’t worry about how many games behind the Phillies are, there may be something worth paying attention to. First, keep your eye on the Reading rotation. Why? If the Phillies are going to have any kind of chance at being good sooner than later, then the performances of Aaron Nola and Jesse Biddle are very important. Biddle’s stock has slipped some recently, so this is a very big year for his career. Nola was picked last year (finally the Phillies started to take some more college players) and has impressed, including this spring against the Yankees. Along with these two, keep track of Adam Morgan who will play in AAA this year. He was once on the fast track to the big leagues before arm problems set him back. The best case scenario is that all three of these guys have great years and we see them all in Philadelphia before the end of the year. Most likely is that we will see Nola and Morgan up here at some point. If all three of those guys can become full-time Major League starters and combine them with David Buchannan, that’s the makings of a pretty good rotation. True, none of them appear to be an “ace”, but that pitcher can always be acquired through free agency when the time is right.
The Phillies are lighter on quality position players at the upper levels of the minor leagues. Cameron Perkins and Kelly Dugan may be two to watch. Perkins shined at a brief stint in AA last year before hitting a wall in Lehigh Valley. This year should be telling, his first full year in AAA. Dugan was once the first player the Phillies selected in the 2009 draft (second round), but has been plagued by injuries and illnesses every year since. When healthy, he’s played well.
So all of those guys are in the minor leagues, so what about in Philadelphia, what can we watch? Again, it’s about the young players. I am not the biggest Cody Asche fan, and I don’t know if he’s going to be better than an average player, but there is some possibility that he can still get better. One player who is young and might show some promise is their Rule 5 pick, Odubel Herrera. He’s never played in the Majors and does not have much power, but he shows promise of being a good hitter. He had an excellent year at AA last year and kept it going in winter ball and then spring training. I would add Darin Ruf to this list, but because Howard is still on the team, he will, again, not get the chance to be a full-time player, which is a shame. Lastly, while he had a rough spring, Ken Giles could be fun to watch if does not take a step back with his control.
So that’s about it. Yes, Utley is still on the team, and maybe with proper rest he can have a nice year, but he is 36. There’s Hamels, of course, but he will most likely be traded at some point.
This is about the time of year I make my prediction for the Phillies. Here are my predictions from last spring. I was very close with my guess on their record; only two games off. Also close was my prediction on Revere (including his first home run) and Kyle Kendrick, but after that they weren’t that good. My call on Hamels was way off! I didn’t even think he would finish the year due to injury and he had his best year statistically.
I usually give player predictions and a win-loss prediction, but this year I will just give a prediction on the latter. The last time I heard, Las Vegas had the Phillies at 68.5 wins. I will take the under and say the Phillies will lose 101 games. It will be a long summer, but there may be hope in some of the younger players. In the meantime, just enjoy listening to Scott Franzke and L.A. call a game on a nice summer day