We've reached that stage in the season where it's too soon to delve too much into the free agent market, but too late to really do anything with the remaining week left in the regular season.
Writing about a team that could still lose 100 games, with just a week left, is tough. There's nothing earth-shattering going on, except for the occasional inside-the-park grand slam and random Ultimate Fighting Championship showdown in the opposing dugout.
So, because I've simply run out of ideas, I turned to my Twitter followers, who came through in grand style.
And if you don't see your question here, don't fret, it'll likely be answered in this week's edition of TGP Radio, coming out later in the week.
Onto the mailbag (which isn't really a mailbag seeing as it's on my computer and people don't really own mailbags anymore)!
@FelskeFiles who is the earl thomas of the phillies— Ricky Jawn Francois (@OhWowHmm) September 29, 2015
This is a terrific question, and there is an answer.
For those who don't spend all day on Twitter like I do, the Earl Thomas question stems from Eagles fans who lament, continuously, ad nauseum, with no end in sight, that the Eagles traded up to No. 13 overall in the 2010 NFL draft and passed on Thomas in order to select defensive end Brandon Graham.
Thomas has been a first-team All-Pro three times and been selected to four Pro Bowls, while the talented Graham has been oft-injured, with nary a Pro Bowl to his credit.
MLB drafts are a bit different, of course, and the Phils have had some recent misses, like in 2001 when they drafted Gavin Floyd at No. 4, with Mark Teixeira going No. 5, and in 2008, when they selected Anthony Hewitt at No. 24, leaving Pittsburgh stud Gerrit Cole on the table at No. 28.
But those things happen a lot, and baseball fans usually don't openly pine for MLB draft picks ahead of the draft. So perhaps a better comparison is one in which the Phillies traded away a young prospect for a collection of stiffs, and then proceeded to hear about it every single year that player was in the Majors.
Yes, I'm referring to your favorite former Phils manager and mine, Ryne Sandberg, who was dealt to the Chicago Cubs, along with Larry Bowa, for Ivan DeJesus and a bucket of balls in 1982.
Sandberg would go on to become a Hall of Fame second baseman for the Cubs, playing 16 years, winning an MVP Award and making 10 straight All-Star Games.
The fans have still not gotten over it.
@FelskeFiles project the Phillies roster for July 2016. (Bonus if you're 30% correct)— vincep (@vgp100) September 29, 2015
OK, I'm going to give the 25-man roster my best shot here.
I've got Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Adam Morgan and Jake Thompson as starters for this team. I think the Phils will go out and get a veteran starter this off-season, I'm thinking a Jaime Garcia or maybe even Jeff Samardzija on a one-year deal. So, I'll say Garcia. That's five.
In the bullpen, Ken Giles and Luis Garcia are going to be the late inning guys. Justin De Fratus will probably be back, with Jeanmar Gomez, Hector Heris, and Elvis Araujo. That's 11 players.
Cameron Rupp is the catcher, Ryan Howard and Darin Ruf split first base (yes, it's going to happen, just get used to the idea now, guys), Cesar Hernandez is at second, Freddie Galvis plays shortstop and Maikel Franco is at third. Andres Blanco will undoubtedly be back, he was a tremendous utility player and mentor for the young Latin players. The Phils will try to trade Carlos Ruiz, but I think he'll be back as the back-up catcher. That's 19 players.
In the outfield, Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr should be starters. Jeff Francoeur will be back too. The big question will be whether the Phils go out and sign a guy like Justin Upton or Jason Heyward. I don't think they will.
I think the team is still intrigued by Cody Asche and he'll still be there next July. Darnell Sweeney has shown enough to stick around. And what the heck, I'll say Nick Williams is up with the big club by next July. It's a stretch, but I like to live dangerously.
So, there's your 25-man roster. It's going to look a lot like the one that's ending the 2015 season.
@FelskeFiles do you think the Phillies should lock up Franco and Nola to singleton and Matt Moore like deals, respectively, this offseason?— Matt Rouscher (@Rouscher) September 29, 2015
Jonathan Singleton's deal with Houston was for five years and $10 million, while Moore's was for five years and $14 million with Tampa. So far, those deals don't look so good for either team, although it's still early on both players.
Still just 24, Singleton has played in 113 Major League games with a career slash line of .171/.288/.331 with an fWAR of -0.9 and a 36.2% strikeout rate. Moore underwent Tommy John surgery in 2014 and just returned at midseason this year, putting up a 6.48 ERA in 10 starts this season.
So there is a risk there. Still, the average annual salaries of both players aren't too far off from where their arbitration numbers would likely end up. Perhaps they're inflated a bit, but both are still young players with promise, and those teams get cost certainty.
That being said, I don't think I'd extend either Nola or Franco just yet. It's still very, very early, and I'd wait until perhaps the middle of next season to see how they progress before offering them a five-year deal that buys out their arbitration years and a couple free agent years. There's no rush.
@FelskeFiles is JP Crawford a sandwich?— Nick Stellini (@StelliniTweets) September 29, 2015
Only when he sleeps in a sleeping bag.
@FelskeFiles If you could do any wrestling finisher on Jon Papelbon, which would it be ?— SEVEN STOREY TWEETER (@dj_mosfett) September 29, 2015
I'll answer the second question here and the Kim Ng question on the podcast.
The only move with which to finish Jonathan Papelbon is the one that would inflict the most damage. It is a move that has been banned by the WWE because it is too violent and has only been done a handful of times by one Japanese wrestler.
It's called The Burning Hammer.
Thanks for all the questions, guys! Make sure to check out this week's edition of TGP Radio for answers to the rest!