I, for one, am thankful for two things. First and foremost, I am thankful for J.T. Realmuto. When the trade happened, I was quite critical of it, thinking that trading their top prospect along with a catcher with offensive upside who had shown marked improvement with his glove was a foolish move. It was totally fine to trade Sixto Sanchez, but I thought they would move him for quite a bit more than just Realmuto. However, after getting the chance to watch him, day in and day out, it was obviously the correct decision. The way he moved behind the plate, framing pitches, blocking balls in the dirt and then of course - the arm. It made grown men and women cry in happiness. Plus, it made for some great gifs.
The second thing I’m thankful for is the decision to move on from Gabe Kapler. It has nothing to do with whether or not I believe he’s a good manager (I don’t), but the fit with the team and the city just wasn’t there. It’s not that management needs to consider our feelings when making a managerial change. They need to do what is best for the organization. But it is helpful when the manager knows the fanbase and how they’ll react to certain decisions, how he can approach media and fans alike when situations arise that call for his tact. Kapler just never seemed to connect with Philadelphia. It wasn’t for lack of effort. He mingled with people in the city, he came to Q&A sessions with fans, answered direct questions from us here. It just never worked. So, for moving on from him and his regime, I am thankful.
The first thing I’m thankful for, which I know Ethan mentioned and I’m sure others will mention as well, is J.T. Realmuto. Like Ethan, I was also cautious of the trade at first. Yes, he was going to be an upgrade over Jorge Alfaro, but at what cost? Giving up the gem of the prospect pool, especially a pitcher, made me extremely nervous. And would he be that impactful? The answer, obviously, is yes. He’s well worth the price they paid for him and more. Now all I want for Christmas is for them to extend him.
I’m also thankful for Bryce Harper this year. Of course adding the biggest name in free agency came with some concerns as well, especially since we’d all heard the stories about how terrible he is as a teammate and how bad his work ethic is. With a $330m contract over the lifespan of your average middle schooler, the idea that he wouldn’t be a good fit was worrisome. But after this year, we know that those were just stories. Bryce fits in perfectly here - with his teammates and with Philadelphia fans. He works hard, he loves this city, and he’s ready to compete for a World Series title. He’s a game-changer, and while I’m sure there will be some rough times, I can’t wait to cheer for him for the next 12 years.
The final thing I’m thankful for is being able to join The Good Phight this year. The TGP staff and the people who follow us have helped me rekindle a passion for this sport and for this team that I had lost for a few years. I’m so grateful to have it back and I can’t wait to see where next season takes us all.
To echo Allie and Ethan a bit, I’m also thankful for Harper and Realmuto. It’s one thing to assemble a lineup out of guys who are “just good enough” to get you there. It’s quite another when you start out with a core of players who are among the best in the world. Harper will be here for a good long while, and hopefully Realmuto will as well (hint hint, Klentak, do the thing). Of course the Phils have other players who could be in this category, e.g. Aaron Nola, but he was here. Realmuto and Harper were guys the front office had to go out and get, and that they were willing to do so is another positive sign.
I’m also thankful for The Good Phight, both the staff and the readership. This is a special place, and I’m glad to be just a little part of it.
Finally, and I apologize for taking this in a slightly darker direction, I’m thankful for time with family. Both my father and my mother-in-law have terminal cancer, and every day, week, month, holiday and so on that we get to spend with them is a gift. Fuck cancer.
I am thankful that unlike many (most?) teams in baseball, the Phillies ownership group seems to be prioritizing winning. It must be disheartening - and really, it wasn’t that long ago that Phillies fans fit into this category - to be a fan of a team whose top priority is staying under the luxury tax threshold rather than building the best team. Instead of looking to trade players like Mookie Betts, the Phillies appear to be trying to add players of that caliber.
The team may make mistakes in their pursuit of victory - and they certainly have - but I at least get the sense that they are making those mistakes in an effort to win, and not just to be cost effective.
I’m also thankful that the coaching staff has gotten an upgrade. I feel that if the team once again fails to make the playoffs in 2020, it won’t be due to the coaches.
The Phillies are under new leadership. Let’s face it, the end of the Gabe Kapler era was exhausting and it’s nice to know there is someone running the team who’s done it before. Poor coaching and bad injury luck took their toll on this team last year and, while there’s no controlling injuries, the coaching will hopefully be better in 2020. I’m also thankful the Phillies have an owner who isn’t looking to save money first at the expense of his baseball team.
You can say he’s meddlesome and he shouldn’t be making baseball ops decisions over his general manager, but there’s no doubt he wants to win and is willing to open up the checkbook to do so. The Phils are interesting, they’re relevant, and hopefully, they’ll be good, too!