Hey guys, things are not going to be like this forever.
The Phillies are hurtling at warp speed toward another last place finish in the National League East, quite a fall from the five straight division titles they won from 2007-2011. It's a bummer to watch a team that still has a fair number of players left from the '08 championship team lose so often.
This team was a blast to watch when they were winning. It hasn't been a blast for a while.
But before we get too crazy here, I hope to offer a word of encouragement.
Guys, things are not going to be bad forever. In fact, they'll probably get good again before too terribly long.
How long you ask? I can't answer for sure. On WIP earlier this week, general manager Ruben Amaro said things aren't going to turn around right away.
"We may have to step backwards to step forwards," Amaro said. "That's also part of the plan here. We may not be contenders in 2015 and 2016. It may just be a one year glitch. It may be two years."
Anyone surprised or put off by those comments haven't been paying attention. Those who follow the team closely knew this was the case and were relieved to finally hear, at the very least, that Amaro is not living in a fantasy world that is different from the rest of us. It's good to know he's finally recognizing the situation for what it is, even if he helped create it, and is no longer dreaming and relying on a best-case scenario.
No one is anxious for a return to the gloomy years of the late-'80s and mid-'90s. But honestly, it's been a while since the Phils have been that consistently bad. Starting at the turn of the century, from 2000-2013, the Phillies have won 1203 games. That's an average of 86 wins a season over the last 14 years, which if the current wild card rules had applied during that time, would have made the Phils a perennial year-in, year-out playoff contender virtually that entire time.
Now, obviously the 2014 season is going to bring that total down, and it's inflated somewhat by the high win totals of 2010 and 2011. But it also signifies that this team has been good far more often than they've been bad over the last decade-and-a-half.
Not only that, there are some good things happening.
Phillies organization is having its best day in a while. Phils are rolling, Nola is rolling, Biddle is not dead.— Dennis Deitch (@DennisDeitch) August 7, 2014
Their last two first-round picks, Aaron Nola and J.P. Crawford, are Top 100 prospects. They will likely get another top-10 pick from the 2015 MLB Draft, too, which will boost their farm system. Maikel Franco has been red hot this summer and appears to have righted himself, putting him in line to make the Opening Day roster next year. And there are younger prospects lower in the minors that have promising futures, too.
The Phillies also appear willing to dive into the Cuban talent pool, and will have big-money, albatross contracts come off the books in the next couple years as well. They also have a huge local TV deal that will give them tons of money to spend, so cheapness should never be an issue again, as it had been in the past.
Not only that, the Phils are coming off a sweep of the Houston Astros, winning last night 6-5 thanks to this blast by Ryan Howard.
And Ben Revere did this.
So even in the midst of a rotten season, there will be good days and, dare I say it, weeks of entertaining baseball.
However, as Amaro said, it's going to be two or three years before the Phillies are a playoff contender. But if you're worried about another decade-long stretch of futility, that probably isn't going to happen. Even with a front office that is behind the times, and with division foes that have more young talent than they do, the cyclical nature of baseball and their ability to add payroll should allow them to be competitive sooner rather than later.
It's always darkest before the dawn and, right now, it's pretty dark. It's fair and understandable to get upset at the direction of the team, their meandering tip-toeing into the world of analytics, and the reputation hit the front office has taken in the last few weeks.
A new general manager and new direction would help speed up the process.But even if Ruben Amaro remains the general manager for the next couple of seasons, it's more likely than not that the Phils can be contenders again before too long. You likely won't have to wait until 2020 for another run at a division title.
So, let's get through these dark times together. We've been through it before. Enjoy going to the games. It's baseball in the summertime and you've got a beautiful ballpark. And rest easy in the knowledge that the Phillies will likely be good again sooner rather than later.