Slowly but surely, they've all left.
Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, everyone who mattered in helping the Phillies win the 2008 World Series, are gone. They've either left through free agency or been traded, but they do not play in Philadelphia anymore.
And this is a good thing. Renewal is good. The 2016 Phillies will be full of youth and promise and, hopefully, some improved baseball.
Among the children will be two old favorites still playing baseball on a regular, if not everyday, basis.
Carlos Ruiz will still see a lot of time behind the plate, and fans seem to be happy to keep him around. Chooch is beloved by the masses, even though his offensive game has left him and he's no longer a very good defensive player either.
But while Ruiz is still honored (and rightly so), many fans still want to see Ryan Howard gone. They want to see his $25 million contract moved off the books for 2016, and for The Big Piece to shuffle off to a new home somewhere else. For instance, I got this question in the TGP Radio mailbag for last week.
@FelskeFiles do you expect any other moves by the Phillies before Spring Training? Any chance they get a buyer on Ryan Howard by throwing $?— Phil Braxmeier (@pbraxmeier) December 29, 2015
This was not an obnoxious question. It's a question many of us have been asking for years now.
"Is there anyone who can take Ryan Howard and his monstrous contract away from us?"
I get it. I really do. It's a reflex, a tradition. But it's time to stop asking that question.
It's time to stop hoping that some team will "rescue" the Phils from their mistake and take Howard off their hands. It's time to not only accept the fact that Ryan Howard will be a Phillie for the 2016 season, but also to embrace it.
Why? Because Howard will go down as perhaps the best first baseman in the team's history, he was a part of a world championship, and will one day enter the team's Wall of Fame.
He's been tough to watch at times over the last four years, and his contract extension and his lack of production over that time has no doubt hurt the Phils. But that's all in the past now.
And Howard is one of the nicest and most amiable guys the team has ever had. He is, by all accounts, one of the humblest superstars you'd ever want to meet.
And this is the last time you're going to see him play.
It's foolish to continue to pine for Howard to go away. It isn't happening. He isn't going anywhere. No one is going to trade for him, and it would be silly for the Phils to just release him.
Why would they do that? The payroll has been scaled back so far that Howard's $25 million doesn't mean a thing. There is no hot young prospect that he would be blocking. He's going to platoon with Darin Ruf. And the Phillies are not going to be in a playoff hunt.
It's the perfect scenario for a long goodbye. It's the perfect environment for a Howard Farewell Tour.
So enjoy it. Don't wish for it to go away. Resolve yourself to enjoying Ryan Howard on the Phillies in 2016.
He deserves it. And so do you.
So stop wishing what little bit of nostalgia we have left would go away.