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Phillies 2015 Best-Case Scenario: Looking Forward

The Phillies aren't going to be making the playoffs in 2015, so what can possibly go right? Get ready to embrace your inner optimist.

Pay No Attention to the Picture Attached to this Post
Pay No Attention to the Picture Attached to this Post
Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, in accordance with what I understand to be proper etiquette, I began this series of two posts be laying out, or, better put, suggesting what the worst-case outcome for the 2015 Phillies would be. Considering the 50th percentile projections for this team are unappealing, the worst-case outcome was difficult to stomach, so difficult, in fact, that I could only approach it by way of a suggestion. I didn't have the emotional fortitude to paint a true picture of the scenario.

Today, I bring more cheerful tidings of the Phillies' best case outcome for 2015. Fellow The Good Phight blogger John Stolnis was bold enough to see a potential playoff team in his iteration of this post. Admittedly, that was a stretch and took so much squinting from John that his face is still scrunched up to this day. He assures us all that he'll be fine. As for myself, I am neither so bold nor as committed to rigorous squinting sessions, and don't see the playoffs as the rosiest outlook. In fact, I think my rose-tinted glasses offer a simultaneously rosier and more realistic vision of the 2015 Phillies.

Let's get this out of the way: the Phillies are not making the playoffs in 2015, not even the second Wild Card. It is important that we start out by understanding and accepting that fact. Once you do that the question changes from "what is the best record the Phillies can achieve in 2015?" to "how can the Phillies use 2015 to best position themselves to be good 2016 and beyond?"

Using that second question as the standard guiding my interpretiation of a best-case scenario, here is what will happen in 2015 if everything comes up roses:

  1. Ryan Howard will continue to look nimble and uses his newly acquired just-faster-than-a-Molina-brother speed to successfully bunt against the shift. Another year of recovery from knee and achilles injuries allows him to launch some vintage Ryan Howard moonshot home runs. Because of all this, some AL team takes notice and offers the Phillies a not-useless prospect in exchange for Howard and some contract relief.

  2. The Red Sox struggle to start the season due to unimpressive performances from their starting pitchers and sit 5 games back of the division lead in mid-June. Sensing vulnerability in their rivals and recognizing that they need to upgrade their starting pitching, they finally agree to part with Swihart, Betts, and some filler for Cole Hamels and a shot at their 4th World Series in 12 years.

  3. Cliff Lee pitches like last season's elbow problems never happened allowing us the opportunity to witness his understated brilliance for 3 or 4 months before a contending team offers a top-100-type prospect and some other pieces for Lee and a lot of salary help. Cliff Lee, with this team, wins the World Series he came back to Philadelphia to get.

  4. Tommy Joseph avoids concussions and hits enough to make the Phillies feel comfortable inserting him as the everyday catcher that they are free to trade Carlos Ruiz for 2019's Eric Bruntlett or Clay Condrey. Unfortunately, this will cause my girlfriend, Sharon, to never watch the Phillies again, sparking 50 years of bickering over television programming in the Eric-Sharon household.

  5. Chad Billingsley, Jerome Williams, and Aaron Harang prove themselves to be viable back of the rotation starters and both are dealt to playoff-aspiring teams ravaged by injury for the second coming of Kyle Kendrick.

  6. Domonic Brown performs more like May and June 2013 levels than every other month of his career levels and establishes himself as an outfielder of the future worthy of the name.

  7. Chase Utley remains both one of the best second basemen in the game and a Phillie. While a player of his ability could net a decent return, sometime has to be a lifetime Phillie. My heart says it should be Chase. Yes, I know this does not constitute a best-case scenario by the standards set forth at the outset. I don't care.

  8. Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, desperate to win a World Series before his demise, insists to Dave Dombrowski, his General Manager, that, yes, a team needs at least one reliable reliever to win in the playoffs. Having continued to combat the mythos of velo, Jonathan Papelbon becomes the apple of the Tigers' eye and lands the Phillies someone or someones who might be make leaguers some day. I'll rent a bulldog and a maroon blazer and light a cigar to that!

  9. Odubel Herrera proves to not be a graduate of the Michael Martinez School for Utility Rule 5 Selections and delivers on the promise of a Rookie of the Year campaign he has effectively made with in his first week of Grapefruit League play.

  10. Aaron Nola and Maikel Franco impress in April and May in AAA and effectively force the Phillies to call them up. In four months getting their Big League Chew on (June - September) they both challenge Odubel Herrera's ROY supremacy. They ultimately fall short but offer hope that they can be significant players on a real-life playoff baseball club.

  11. BONUS: The Phillies beat out the Braves and finish 4th in the NL East.

When we search for the best-case scenario guided by that second question, the playoffs no longer look like the best possible outcome because making the making the playoffs comes with an opportunity cost of players who will be able to contribute in 2016 and beyond.

Do what do you think? How many of these 10 (or 11) favorable outcomes will occur in 2015? Specify in the comments! (I'm not forcing you, but it would be nice)