2023 was quite a year for the Phillies, wasn’t it? We saw the second straight season with the team in the playoffs, and they once again advanced a couple of rounds. That sounds great in theory, and two years ago, we would have signed up for that immediately.
But we all know that in reality, 2023 was ultimately a disappointing year for Phillies fans. The World Series looked to be theirs for the taking...and they simply didn’t take it.
Anyway, since it’s New Years Eve, why not take a look back on the year that was for the Fightins’, courtesy of the TGP archives?
January is often a slow month in the baseball world. Most of the big offseason moves have already been made, and we’re still weeks away from Spring Training. But the Phillies weren’t idle during the month, making a trade for reliever Gregory Soto, and signing bench player Josh Harrison. Unfortunately, neither move ended up making that much of an impact on the 2023 Phillies team, with Harrison not even making it to the postseason.
In other Phillies news, former third baseman Scott Rolen was elected to the Hall of Fame, even if some members of the TGP staff didn’t think he merited enshrinement.
The Grapefruit League and World Baseball Classic were taking place simultaneously. Vibes were great in the former until super prospect Andrew Painter’s elbow began acting up. As for the latter, Trea Turner and the American team were doing well until the final.
After seeing the team come devastatingly close to a World Series, it was worth pondering if our hearts could take another season. But ready or not, the season began. Opening Day was great for a few innings...and then it wasn’t.
The Phillies got off to a slow start, and we began to speculate if it was going to be a lost season. Not too many Phillies were hitting well at the start of the season, but at least Brandon Marsh began the season on a tear.
Bryce Harper returned to action much sooner than anticipated, but his early return failed to spark the team. But the Phillies weren’t the only would be contender to struggle in the early part of the season. It felt like Rhys Hoskins’ absence was hurting the team more than expected.
With a loss to the Nationals, the team bottomed out at the beginning of the month. But the situation soon improved. One of the biggest factors was the rebound season from Nick Castellanos. However, the team was still being hurt by the lack of a fifth starter.
On the field, the Phillies had two All-Stars, but it probably wasn’t two players most of us would have predicted before the season began.
The first half came to a close, with the team not exactly living up to expectations, but there was hope that the second half would be better. Unfortunately, Nick Castellanos was back in his not-so-great 2022 mode for much of the month.
The trade deadline arrived, and the Phillies acquired a new starting pitcher. And the early returns on Michael Lorenzen were better than anyone could have hoped, with the newcomer pitching a no-hitter in his second start with the team.
Meanwhile, the Phillies’ biggest offseason free agent pickup had been struggling, but after the fans showed their support, Trea Turner’s season turned around.
Off the field, one of the franchise’s all-time best pitchers retired, showing us that time waits for no one.
As the month started, the Phillies were in good position for a playoff spot, but there were still causes for concern. The team had a “measuring stick” series against the Braves and came up small. There were concerns that the front office should have been more aggressive at the trade deadline.
Next up was the mighty Braves, who seemed like a more formidable opponent. Despite the presence of Phillies nemesis Spencer Strider, the Phillies sent the Braves home in four games for the second straight year. It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving team.
Zack Wheeler put them in good position, but Aaron Nola couldn’t finish the job. For the first time ever, the Philadelphia Phillies would be in a playoff game seven. The fans were ready, but the team was not. The Phillies fell, and the Diamondbacks moved on.
Despite the Winter Meetings, it’s been a slow month as far as Phillies news goes. They announced an extension for manager Rob Thomson, but aside from that, there’s been little to do but speculate on potential trades.
There was some excitement about the arrival of Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and which team he would end up on. (Maybe even the Phillies!) But in the end, Yamamoto headed to Los Angeles, and the Phillies were forced to consider other options to help the team.
Ah, but December wasn’t a total waste! With this post, I will have met my lofty goal of posting something new every day in December. I definitely sacrificed quality for quantity a couple times (Looking at you, badly rushed Gabe Kapler article!) but I think I mixed in some good ones along the way.
I hope you enjoyed reading everything, and either way, it gave me something to do this month besides bombard the TGP Slack channel with festive holiday songs!
Happy New Year and here’s to an even better 2024!