The Phillies and we fans are suffering through a fourth consecutive losing campaign in which the club won no more than 73 games in any season.
There is progress, however, down through the organization, and hope for the future.
The minor league system is full of exciting prospects, a few of whom have made their big league debuts over the last two seasons.
The Phils are also moving into an era of tremendous financial strength. The club has just $24 million in contract obligations on the books for the 2017 season, $2 million for 2018, and nothing beyond that.
As more and more talented youngsters arrive over the next year or two, the Phillies will be able to supplement them with big free agent signings.
They will also have the financial and organizational prospect strength to go after players such as Mike Trout in trade, if they so wish, surrendering a package of players and taking on a large, long-term contract.
My recommendations for 2017 are fairly simple and straightforward. I want to see more of the kids come and receive significant playing time next year.
I want to see J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams, and Jorge Alfaro on the field. I want to see Jake Thompson and Ben Lively on the mound.
I want to see Tommy Joseph play first base on an everyday basis against all types of pitching in all situations.
With Ryan Howard gone and based on his own production this year, Joseph deserves that opportunity.
There is talk of the Phillies adding a few free agents, including at least one veteran power hitting corner outfielder and a starting pitcher.
If that does happen, and considering the anticipated free agent class, I do not want to see the organization tie up long-term dollars for a player 30+ years of age.
I am frustrated by the last four years of losing, but I am not impatient, and I do not want the team to go off their plan out of frustration and make a bad investment that proves a setback.
1 – Roman Quinn (CF)
2 – Odubel Herrera (LF)
3 – Jorge Alfaro (C)
4 – Maikel Franco (3B)
5 – Tommy Joseph (1B)
6 – Nick Williams (RF)
7 – Galvis/Hernandez (2B)
8 – J.P. Crawford (SS)
Again given health, my ideal Phillies 2017 pitching rotation, including the first emergency/injury starter, would be made up of:
1 – Vince Velasquez, 2 – Aaron Nola, 3 – Jerad Eickhoff, 4 – Jake Thompson, 5 –Zach Eflin, 6 – Ben Lively
Finally, given health, my ideal Phillies 2017 bullpen would feature Hector Neris as the closer, with Edubray Ramos and Jeanmar Gomez also in the mix as 7th inning guys.
A strong, proven, veteran 8th inning setup man would be a nice addition, as would at least two more such veteran relief pitchers with a proven record of health and success.
I am not expecting the 2017 Phillies to make a run at a postseason berth. However, I do want to see measurable improvement in the standings.
In 2017, I expect a .500 season fueled by more enthusiastic and energetic play, but with the control and discipline of true professionals.
That will be the challenge for the coaching staff, to get these youngsters to play hard from day one through the end of September, and to do so as if they belong in the big leagues.
In the end, my primary off-season recommendation for the Phillies is to get their own internal house in order, and get their own kids ready for more responsibility in the 2017 season.
There may be a new corner outfield bat brought in as well. Any outside additions have to be smart ones that make sense for the full length of whatever contract is offered or taken on, and not simply reactionary to fans dissatisfaction.
There will be new players brought into the mix. There will be at least one veteran starting pitcher brought into the rotation, and perhaps 2-3 veteran relievers.
This is a key off-season for GM Matt Klentak. He has a full year under his belt now, with both a handle on what is here and a clear vision of the future.
It is now Klentak’s responsibility to give Pete Mackanin a couple of legitimate weapons that can help get this club to that competitive .500 level, and then to a consistently winning one.