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The Good Phight’s Christmas wishlist

If we had to choose one thing for this coming season, here’s what they would be

Philadelphia Phillies Christmas Tree Lighting With Coach Charlie Manuel & Phillie Phanatic Photo by Tom Briglia/Getty Images

If you celebrate Christmas, you have wished for something at some point in your life. A toy, a piece of clothing, a certain item on your Amazon list, whatever that may be, you have desired to see it wrapped up in paper and a bow and place under the tree on December 25th. We here at The Good Phight also want to see things under our figurative tree, so if we each had one wish for the upcoming season (assuming a new CBA gets done), here is what we’d want.

Ethan Witte - a Cy Young season from Aaron Nola

Imagine, if you will, that Zack Wheeler is able to approach what he did this past season when he was a Cy Young runner-up. Wheeler putting up a 4-5 WAR season puts him back into the upper echelon of starters in the game, something every team needs.

Now imagine that the Phillies were able to pair that production with Wheeler with similar, if not better, production from Aaron Nola.

How great would that be?

I wrote the other day that a lot of Nola’s “poor” performance is probably objective since his peripherals lend themselves to someone who actually didn’t pitch too horribly. He’s not an ace anymore, but he’s a guy who has the talent to put together a Cy Young-ish season, something he did already in his career. In 2022, were he able to give the team another season of that kind of top level production, the Phillies would be at the advantage no matter who they played two out of every five days. It would make scrambling to fill the other three days that much easier, especially if Ranger Suarez turns out to be a solid #3 starter. It would help the team tremendously if Nola were able to get back to his 2018 self.

Jay Polinsky - a playoff appearance

Literally, that’s it. Remember 2007-2011? It was so much fun! Assuming the Phillies spend all the way to the new luxury tax (maybe even go over it for a big name!), to avoid full fan apathy, they HAVE to make a playoff appearance either as a division winner or coming out of the wildcard game. Bryce Harper deserves this it. This is partially why he came here, to WIN. For those folks that think this team isn’t close to making the playoffs, I get it though it isn’t that outlandish? Healthy Hoskins, a “bounceback” from Realmuto/Nola and some sort of competent bullpen and last year’s team contends with the Braves. Santa, make it so!

Smarty Jones - Don’t let money be the reason for failure

There are many reasons the Phillies are in the midst of a lengthy playoff drought. But it feels that one of the reasons for the lack of playoff appearances is voluntary: Their refusal to cross MLB’s luxury tax threshold with their player payroll.

Sure, there’s been talk about potentially exceeding it in “the right situation,” but it seems that remaining under the tax is at least a secondary goal in every move they make. for instance, when they make a trade, the Phillies almost always pay a higher price in prospects, while the other team in the trade is asked to carry more of the financial burden.

I realize that the team has been a big spender in free agency and has one of the higher payrolls in the league. That makes their reluctance to go “all in” more frustrating in some regard. Were the Phillies’ moves at the trade deadline really the best they could make, or were they the best they could make while assuring that they stayed under the tax?

It would be ideal if the team’s minor leagues could actually start producing good, cheap players who could help the team return to the playoffs. But if that doesn’t happen, I don’t want to see the team waste another year of the prime of Bryce Harper and Zack Wheeler simply because they don’t want to pay a little extra.

Allie Foster - Less than 25 blown saves in 2022

Am I asking for too much out of the bullpen that has blown 66 saves over the last two seasons and has already lost its closer this offseason? It’s possible. But it would be really great if the bullpen was able to maintain leads more often. (Though at least the Phillies didn’t have the worst bullpen in 2021!)

In this era of baseball, complete games are far and few between. The Phillies had just three complete games in 2020 and five in 2021. With the bullpen involved in most, if not all of the 162 games, it’s important to have a cohort that doesn’t blow too many leads. While this offense certainly has the ability to hit itself out of any deficit, it’s a lot easier to win games when you don’t give up the lead so many times.

Leo Morgenstern - A Rhys Hoskins contract extension

I know this one might be a little controversial and a little far-fetched, but if there’s any time when it’s okay to dream a little, that time is Christmas.

With Andrew McCutchen gone, Rhys Hoskins is easily my favorite Phillies player. Not only is he a good ballplayer and a good teammate, but he seems like a genuinely good person and a great ambassador for this baseball team.

Rhys Hoskins isn’t a star, but he’s an above-average player and an excellent hitter. At just 28 years old, he should continue to be a middle-of-the-order bat for the next several seasons. Sure, there are better first basemen out there, but the Dave Dombrowski will certainly have several other positions to prioritize in free agency next year, and as long as Hoskins is penciled in at first, we can rest assured that the position won’t be a weakness for the Phillies.

Most importantly, Hoskins is the heart of this team. He’s the closest thing this current team has to a Jimmy Rollins — a charming and friendly homegrown player who makes an effort to represent his team on both a local and a national level and to be a positive role model for young fans. He’s also the longest-tenured Phillies position player, and he’s played in more games for the team than anyone else on the roster. No, Rhys Hoskins isn’t nearly as important to the Phillies franchise as Jimmy Rollins, but no one can ever be if the Phillies don’t make an effort to keep players around.

The 2008 championship team was particularly special because the core was made up of homegrown players, many of whom we had been watching and developing a relationship with for years. If the Phillies are going to build another contending team, I want that team to include at least some players I really care about rooting for.

I certainly don’t think the Phillies should break the bank extending Rhys Hoskins, and I think Dave Dombrowski would be wise to wait until mid-season to ensure that Hoskins is fully healthy before beginning negotiations. But if Hoskins is back to his former self and he’s willing to sign a fair deal, nothing would make me happier than knowing that Rhys Hoskins will be a Phillie for many years to come.