The 2014 auditions are visible in the clubhouse to the decision-makers of the Philadelphia Phillies, who, for example, can observe Cody Asche’s preparation. In other words, most of us only see the performances on the diamond. During spring training, the lid on that refuge may open a crack.
This article represents the thinking of a baseball man in my opinion. Most fans do not consider the budget, prospects on the radar, the organization’s weaknesses, the track record, the competition and the other intangibles.
There will be a published storyline each week.
Reflections and Echos:
Looking to the past, examples provide similarities for hope.
Baseball instituted the MLB draft in 1965 to prevent the Yankees from always having the first shot at athletes due to the New York market. Since that new era began, only the 1970’s Dodgers have developed a championship core from a .500 team; however, the ’70’s Reds, the ’70’s A’s, the ’90’s Braves, the ’90’s Yanks and two Phils’ squads had spent many previous summers in the basement. Having high draft picks yields top-tier talent, and the Nationals, for example, have a title-bound nucleus including Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper, which they added to Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth. They will not forget the disappointments of the 2012 playoffs and 2013’s uphill battle.
Many feel the front office has failed to produce solid minor league hopefuls or traded away the future. Keeping only Domonic Brown, Ruben Amaro Jr. sacrificed Carlos Carrasco, Lou Marson, Jason Donald, Jason Knapp, Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, Travis d’Arnaud, JA Happ, Anthony Gose, Jonathan Villar, Jarret Cosart and Jonathan Singleton. The head honcho received Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence. How many all-stars did the brain trust give away?
Harnessing New Energy:
After five campaigns ended short of absolute triumph, the 1980 unit still had its core four intact: Larry Bowa, Greg Luzinski, Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton. General manager Paul Owens added veterans to his cornerstones: Pete Rose, Manny Trillo, Bake McBride, Garry Maddox, Tug McGraw and Dick Ruthven. That stated, Lonnie Smith, Keith Moreland, Marty Bystrom, Bob Walk and Dickie Noles contributed the missing spark the stars needed to rediscover their baseball passion.
The fleet-footed Smith’s brain moved faster than his legs, and Moreland popped several difference-making hits. Bystrom was a September call-up who went 5-0, and Walk opened the World Series after Carlton, Larry Christenson, Ruthven and Bystrom carried the load in the NLCS. Noles, however, is famous for the brush-back pitch on George Brett in that Fall Classic, which may have been influential. Without those five players, the red pinstripes would not have celebrated with a parade, and the current squad also requires that youthful vibrancy.
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According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Ryne Sandberg opined that the club needed a spark from the next generation of Phillies. The new skipper has a front-row seat but the view is also clear from here. The mixture of experience and exuberance is a time-tested formula for success, and this crew is no exception.
Completed Pitching Stats:
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Rekindling an Old Flame:
Five years have come and gone since the 2008 team went the distance, but the core four are still on the roster: Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels. In addition to Lee, Halladay, Oswalt and Pence, Amaro acquired Placido Polanco, Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Adams. Those late inning arms will have a lot to prove in 2014.
Like this season, 1979 was a major letdown but the following campaign was magical. However, those fresh-faced ingredients arrived at different times during that 162. In other words, it’s not the same but it is similar for these new heroes: Ben Revere, Brown, Darin Ruf, Asche, Cesar Hernandez, Miguel Gonzalez and Freddy Galvis. Also, Papelbon and Adams will play a huge role in the development of BJ Rosenberg, Jake Diekman, Justin De Fratus and Ethan Martin.
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For the pen, Amaro can only pencil in Papelbon and Antonio Bastardo, which means he will shop for two veteran relievers. The other three slots for the relief corps will come from Adams, Rosenberg, Diekman, De Fratus or Martin because Amaro will not plan on all four rookies to produce and a healthy Adams. In other words, he has to count on a success ratio of 60 percent: three hurlers.
Management is zeroing in on two extra starters: Hernandez and Maikel Franco. Baring a swap for a rotation piece, Brown and Ruf will switch defensive positions, and Hernandez will be the fourth outfielder with playing time behind Revere and Ruf. Franco will open the campaign at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, which is what Asche did this summer. Adjusting to the sliders and the outside pitches, Ruf will average .275 and continue his homer production.
Sandberg will decide who bats cleanup and leads off, and there won’t be any plaguing questions of loyalty, which haunted Charlie Manuel. The rookie manager–like Dallas Green was in ’80–won’t have to look far for a third-base coach and/or bench coach with Bowa’s availability not in question. Sandberg brings the knowledge of his players from Lehigh Valley, and Bowa will supply the gasoline for the fire under the backsides of rookies and vets alike. Since the changing of the guard, the excitement has returned to the Bank whether it’s a win or a loss.
Despite strong franchises in Washington and Atlanta, the red pinstripes will play meaningful games next September.
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