It’s always at this time of year when fanbases are at their most optimistic. Free agents have been signed, players have been acquired and most importantly, everyone is healthy. There are no batting lines to make one’s eyes water, no pitching line to cause rage and disappointment. Everyone still has the sheen of possibility about them, of wide eyed hopes that this will be the year.
The fanbase of Philadelphia is usually one to have a bad reputation among observers around the country. We know the age old tales spun about how hostile the fans are; no need to rehash them here. After a disappointing playoff exit at the hands of the upstart Diamondbacks in late October coupled with an offseason where only one major transactions has happened, you might think the people are a bit down on the team right now. Taking a survey would have produced results where one might say there is probably some residual resentment among those answering the questions.
I was wrong.
Here are the results of that survey.
The results here are about what I’d figured. There is a group of people that feel like the offseason has been a positive one, somewhere in the 6-10 range. There is a group of people that give a collective “eh” to what the team has done while near 20% of respondents feel the offseason has been below average. The fact that there were so many people that were in the middle range leads to this next question...
...which makes this chart totally make sense.
You don’t need me to tell you that the majority of people, an overwhelming majority even, feel like the team could have added more. There are arguments for and against this idea, but it does feel like most do not like the idea of simply “running it back.” I personally have no problem running it back with a team that didn’t have it’s best hitter for the first few months of the season, that didn’t see its $300 million shortstop actually act like a major league hitter until after the All-Star break, that saw its #2 starter pitch as though he was auditioning for a production of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
What is nice though is that with all the headaches Nola has caused in his career of late (the late season slumps, the uneven seasons), most of you believe the team should have brought him back.
The only real options to replace him were Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell and as of now, neither has found employment yet for the 2024 season and beyond. The Phillies knew what they wanted and grabbed Nola early to make sure they weren’t left standing when the offseason music stopped.
If we’re going back to the part about holes needing to be addressed still, it’s fairly clear what people still want the team to add. Almost half want a relief pitcher, ostensibly to replace what Craig Kimbrel gave the team last year, but also to hedge against any kind of regression from Orion Kerkering and Seranthony Dominguez. Getting a starting pitcher would be nice, and I feel like that number is influenced a bit by the options still left waiting to be signed, but most recognized that the Phillies are fairly well set at that spot.
A clumsily worded question, I’ll admit, but the findings are still interesting. More than half the people believe this team can with the World Series in 2024 and that was probably the most interesting finding in this exercise.
Not the small sliver of people who think they’ll miss the playoffs because.....c’mon. Really?
The playoffs being a crapshoot have been taken into account by most, but there was a unsettling sense of positivity here.
Making a run at the division is something I thought would cause the most evenly distributed answers. A little more than half of you believe the Braves are better equipped to win the division thanks to a better roster over the course of 162 games, but even with that caveat, just about half of you want the NL East crown.
Personally, I’d like to see the team take the division for one reason. We’ve seen that the time off between a wild card round and a division series can sometimes work to the better seed’s detriment. For a team like the Phillies though, that extra few days off might make a difference on a team that relies so heavily on how well their starting pitchers fare in a playoff series. Operating under the presumption that the NL East winner is either the #1 or 2 seed, I wouldn’t mind seeing Wheeler and Nola get to skip that extra start if it means they are fresher for the NLDS. It hasn’t mattered much in the past two seasons, but again, whatever innings could be saved on the arms of the top two starters might be beneficial.
Which is Dave Dombrowski’s better talent and/or skill?
Is it his eye for the backend of the roster, those guys he keeps acquiring to fill one specific need on the roster, players like Andrew Bellatti and Jeff Hoffman? Or is it his soothsaying ability to get owners to loosen their pursestrings and spend money?
There is a large amount of trust in Philly Rob, trust I believe to have been justifiably earned. This has been a different team since he took over.
There is also a lot of high marks for the coaching staff that Thomson has assembled. Come to think of it, I cannot remember that a coaching staff in any sport in his city has garnered this much acceptance overall from the fanbase than this one has. I might be overlooking some.
Which player(s) will be the biggest breakout of the season?
With so many superstars on the team and a few young players sprinkled in, Bryson Stott was going to be the obvious choice here. Players like Trea Turner and Bryce Harper, they’ve broken out. We know they’re going to put up a good season. Expecting Stott to take another leap forward in his development is what it seems a lot of people are thinking they’ll see.
Shoutout to the Gregory Soto believers in the back.
I see you.
Which player(s) will be the biggest disappointment of the season?
You know how when you write a question sometimes, you kind of know what the answer will be?
This was one of those questions.
1% away from a very nice answer...
Thank you to all who participated in the survey.