I've been a pretty good boy this year, you know.
I've worked really hard down at the salt mines, wiped a million runny noses, stepped up my #brand here on the bolgosphere, and just in general tried to be a good dude. And while all my good certainly doesn't trump all the bad I've done this year, I was hoping that maybe I'd still be able to ask the Phanataclause for a couple of items from my gift list for 2015.
I'm not greedy. By the admission of the guys running the team, Pat Gillick and Ruben Amaro, the Phils aren't going to the playoffs next year. In fact, it's probably going to be a mediocre two or three years at least around here.
But that's OK. We had a good run. I'm not asking for the Phils to be playoff contenders in '15. All I want are a few small items. Stocking stuffers, even.
So, here's my Phillies Wish List for 2015.
1. A Cole Hamels Trade That Doesn't Make Me Want To Rip My Fingernails Out
I've resigned myself to the fact that, no matter how much I'd love for him to be a Phillie forever, the team would be better off if they can trade Cole Hamels for a ridiculously good haul of prospects and/or young players. The latest rumors, which speculate a deal with San Diego that would bring back Wil Myers, would be a good start. So would some of the finer prospects from the Cubs, Red Sox or Dodgers organizations.
What I don't want is a Hamels trade where we get a Travis Lee, Omar Daal, Nelson Figueroa and Vicente Padilla in return. That would make me want to put my head in a bag of sand for about a week.
If Hamels must be traded, then please let it be for something good and exciting.
2. Either A Ryan Howard Rebirth Or A Heartfelt Goodbye
I don't think I can take another season of watching Howard try and make it through a 150 game season on one working leg, struggling to hit 25 homers while putting up an OPS in the .600s. I don't want to remember this Ryan Howard.
I want to remember the one that was a 35-homer threat, a longball waiting to happen, a guy whose every at bat was must-watch TV. I realize that guy is gone forever, though.
If Howard isn't going to have a renaissance next year (and I think we all agree it's highly unlikely), then I hope he gets traded or released. If he's going to struggle again, I'd rather he do it on some American League team that can hide him at DH.
Obviously, I hope he rediscovers something next year, whether it's with us or someone else. But it's time for him to either move on, or be a productive player one last time. A little nostalgia would be fun.
3. A Jonathan Papelbon-Free Existence
There's no doubt Papelbon has delivered on the field. But, I mean, it's just enough already. Isn't there someone out there who is willing to take this guy off our hands? Detroit? Hello? Have you lost Ruben's number?
4. A Domonic Brown Bounce-Back Season
Gillick seems to be willing to stick with Brown. That's smart, because selling low on a young player often leads to that player doing well someplace else. There's no question Brown was the worst everyday outfielder in baseball last year. But at 27, and on a team headed nowhere, the Phillies should give him one last chance to see if he can hack it at the Major League level, or if he's merely another Jeff Stone.
It would be amazing to see Brown bounce back to the All-Star form he showed two years ago. It would be such an unexpected pleasure, I think we'd all be giddy beyond belief. Give me a 25-homer, .260/.320/.480 slash line next year, Dom, with limited defensive atrocities. We'll all do back flips.
5. A Healthy Cliff Lee
Frankly, Lee is a lottery ticket at this point. Usually, lottery tickets make for crappy Christmas gifts. I mean, if you win something, the giver gets ticked off because he had a winning lottery ticket in his hand and gave it away. But if it doesn't, all the receiver of the lottery ticket has gotten is a useless piece of cardboard. Don't give lottery tickets for Christmas, gang. It's a bad gift.
Anywho, Lee is coming off an elbow injury that I'm skeptical he'll ever be able to recover from. But he's apparently throwing pain-free right now, and if that holds true, it would be wonderful to see him return to being a 4 to 5-win pitcher once again.
The Phillies would then be able to flip him for some legitimate prospects, essentially giving themselves a potential Hamels-lite deal. Lee wouldn't generate the kind of return Hamels would, but he'd come close.
Only if the Lee of old returns, however.
6. An Evolving Ryne Sandberg
For a younger manager, Sandberg showed a lot of old school tendencies as skipper last year. His bullpen usage and in-game strategy seemed to be pretty by-the-books, but perhaps that's to be expected from a guy in his first full year managing.
It's also a bit unclear just how much power Sandberg really had last year over his lineup and personnel decisions. Reports are he wanted to move on from Howard in the second half of the season and play Darin Ruf at first a little more, but was told not to do so by the higher-ups.
To what degree that's true or not, I don't know. What I hope is, as this organization begins to utilize advanced metrics, that the manager would start to implement some of that thinking into his day-to-day managing.
7. A Real Analytics Department
Is this happening? Or are they done? After hiring
Andrew Scott Freedman to handle this new analytics "department," and a job posting by the team looking for a handful of "interns" last year, there hasn't been much talk about expanding the department or creating anything larger than what's already in place.
Maybe they're in the process of doing that. But if so, it's been kept very hush-hush. It would be nice for the team to join the rest of Major League Baseball in the 21st century, in terms of utilizing advanced data.
8. Phillies Tickets In Hot Dogs
Back in the 1980s and early '90s, the last time the team was truly bad, they gave away tickets inside of Phillies Phranks. Those were usually the only games I was able to go to as a kid, and even though the Phils were terrible and played at the Vet, it was still so much fun to go to the ballpark.
They need to do this again. I don't know if they still make Phillies Phranks or not (do they?) but if they don't, they should start making them again, just so they can put those Phillies tickets back inside the packages. We went through a lot of Phillies Phranks when I was a lad.
9. A Viable Replacement For Jamie Moyer
Moyer wasn't bad in the booth last year, but he was nothing to write home about either. Neither was Matt Stairs. And, I'm sorry, but Tom MacCarthy just isn't my cup of tea. It was all just so... blah.
I don't know who would be an ideal choice to replace Moyer, but I'm hoping it's someone with an understanding of some of the advanced metrics of the game, someone who isn't so old school, someone intelligent, and someone with personality.
Does such a person exist? I hope it does.
10. Maikel Franco Emerges As A Potential All-Star
Right now, Franco is one of the few intriguing young bats in the organization and is enjoying a very productive Winter Ball season in the Domonican.
Franco hit 7 HRs in 38 games for Gigantes del Cibao. That was 2nd in the league. He hit .272/.335/.469 and had 29 RBIs, also 2nd.— John Stolnis (@FelskeFiles) December 23, 2014
The Phils appear willing to give Cody Asche a chance to prove he's not a younger version of Greg Dobbs, but if that experiment fails, I hope Franco gets the opportunity and runs with it. It would be great to have an exciting young offensive talent for the first time in a few years.
So, that's my list. Ten items. That's not too much, right?
Please Phanataclause, don't leave me with nothing but a bucket of coal and a sub-.500 OPS Domonic Brown for Christmas.