During this whole rebuilding process, I have chosen to remain on the calm and collected side. We all knew that it would take a good long while before the team became relevant again, so it would be best to just patiently wait it out, enduring the losses because the payoff would be so rewarding. I still believe this was the right thing to do. The hole that was created by the chasing of championships would not be easy to dig out of, yet it was necessary to do so with an approach that required waiting for the next crop of homegrown talent.
Yet as I sit here on June 25, I can’t help but begin to get a little antsy. It all began with John Stolnis’ interview with Jayson Stark (link found here) and I begin to wonder if it is all going to be worth it.
The blueprint for the rebuild was clear:
- Rid themselves of cumbersome contracts
- Acquire as much talent as possible
- Develop the talent in the minor leagues while filling hole in the majors
- Promote the minor league talent when ready
- Add free agents by using money from a television contract
- Celebrate a 3rd World Series in franchise history!
We’ve seen them go through steps 1-3. We’re waiting for step 4.
This is where I have begun to get impatient.
This season is over. They aren’t going to be contending for anything other than the top overall draft choice in the 2018 draft. There remains very little reason for them to continue to have the kids remain in the minor leagues plying their trade. They are now entering the phase where the promotions need to begin to happen and I have a very good reason for doing so, one John and Jayson mention in the above broadcast.
They need to begin showing prospective reasons for free agents to want to come to Philadelphia.
Put yourself into the shoes of both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the top two free agent bats in the vaunted 2018-19 free agent class. They both realize that they are going to be courted, fawned over, wined, dined, everything. They are going to command dollars never before seen in any sport. And they also see that there are two franchises that will be able to compete for their services with both the financial wherewithal and the positions open for their services: the Phillies and the New York Yankees. Based solely on today, ask this question:
Who would you rather play for?
The answer is quite clearly the Yankees. They have young, bona-fide stars in the majors right now in Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, as well as a stable of blue chip prospects coming in Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres (his Tommy John surgery notwithstanding). They have the pieces in place now to win now and in the future.
Cast your eyes down I-95, and as Jayson Stark puts it best, when comparing the Phillies’ rebuild to the Cubs’ rebuild:
Where’s their Kris Bryant? Where’s their Anthony Rizzo? Where are those star players, those difference making players?
The differences in rosters is startling. Granted, the Yankees have had a very different rebuild, as the players they had to replace didn’t totally fall off the face of the earth like the ones the Phillies were rostering. But when one looks at where they both sit, it’s hard not to be a little jealous of what is going on in the Bronx. It’s been said many times before, most recently by Ken Rosenthal, when discussing the current Phillies roster: they have good young players, but are they going to be stars?
...some will turn out the way the Phils envision; others won’t, and might be more useful as trade bait.
Listen, I’m not suggesting that everyone comes up tomorrow. That would be crazy talk. The internal evaluations of each player is dictating these call-ups and I will continue to trust them.
However, the time is close.
Were I to be asked by general manager Matt Klentak what I would do, this would be my suggestion: cut bait on everyone that will not be contributing in 2018 by mid-July and begin the promotions then. No need to wait until the end of the month. Do it now.
Waiting until 2018 to bring up the Crawfords, the Williams, the Alfaros would be a massive mistake because of what they are currently missing out on. Bringing them up as soon as possible will enable them to be exposed to big league pitching, to work with the major league hitting coach, to have the access to more video on opposing pitchers in order to make adjustments, to have access to more data for making swing changes that they might not be getting in the minors right now.
Not only that, they will be able to influence the minds of a potential free agent more often. In September, the Phillies play the Nationals seven times. At that point, they should have the division well in hand and will not have to deal with the heat of stretch run that a team like the Cubs or Diamondbacks might have to deal with. It would be foolhardy if those seven games did not include J.P. Crawford, Scott Kingery, Nick Williams, et al. If someone like Harper is able to see their talent against major league pitching, he might be more enticed to want to join them, seeing their abilities first hand rather than having to rely on scouting reports and word of mouth.
Am I getting ahead of myself? Yes, probably. This is probably just one writer having to watch yet another blown game by the bullpen, then sitting down to vent his frustration.
However, I want to see the kids and I’m ready for them to come up. This roster as currently constructed is starting to wear on me. Let’s hope it happens shortly.