I know what you are thinking, “What a homer?” You would also point out the obvious issues. Phillies have the second-longest playoff drought in baseball behind the Mariners. They haven’t finished a season above .500 since 2011. Their farm system is nonexistent. Their payroll is cray high. Worst of all, their division is arguably the best in baseball. I still say the Phillies will contend for the postseason.
Look at the breadcrumbs the Phillies have left us to follow. After firing GM Matt Klentak, and showed intentions to slice payroll and killed any notion that they’d re-sign J.T. Realmuto. Things looked bleak for the foreseeable future. Until December rolled in and John Middleton woke up. Shocking the fanbase with the hiring of Dave Dombrowski as president of baseball operations. Even though he turned down the organization twice before finally signing he was the catalyst this team needed.
The Turn Around
Middleton was finally convinced to get off his wallet. The Phillies shockingly re-signed Realmuto and even shortstop Didi Gregorius. They added position player depth. Signing utility man Brad Miller and outfielders Matt Joyce and Travis Jankowski to minor-league deals fly under most radars but I think we will see them make Spring Training really exciting.
Dombroski added veteran starting pitching with Chase Anderson and Matt Moore. That was done just $7 million combined. He also signed veteran starter Ivan Nova to a minor league deal. This is huge considering that the entire MLB has to adjust from a 60-game season to a 162-game season. Soft tissue injuries may just plague the league at least in the beginning.
The Bullpen struggled mightily over the last years. The additions this offseason are especially encouraging. Archie Bradley is the veteran closer this organization sorely missed. They added lefty Jose Alvarado, who was arguably one of the best relievers in baseball in 2018. Injuries and poor performance made him affordable. Maybe the change in scenery will be what the doctor ordered. Dombroski added more veterans to one-year deals like Kintzler, Rondon, and Watson making this bullpen very competitive this Spring.
The foundation alone makes me feel the Phillies will contend. The Phillies still have a top one-two punch with Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. Zach Eflin is a decent No. 3. Velasquez, Anderson, Moore, and perhaps Spencer Howard will fill out the rotation. More arms will be required this year due to the increased workload.
Even though 2020 was disappointing, let’s not forget how potent the offense was. Harper did what he does best hitting .268/.420/.542 with 13 home runs in 58 games. He even struggled a little in the end with a bad back. Realmuto lived up to his hype both at the plate and behind the plate. Gregorius had a bounce-back year after struggling in 2019 with the Yankees. Andrew McCutchen can still provide good at-bats as a leadoff man and as a locker room general. Rhys Hoskins remains a question mark but showed promise during the shortened season of 2020.
Alec Bohm, who finished second for the NL Rookie of the Year last season returns with experience. In 44 games, Bohm hit .338 with 4 home runs and 23 RBI. He did not look like a rookie to me.
Overall, the big baseball analysts have the Phillies’ chances of making the postseason low but I beg to differ. The Phillies will contend and will get our first taste this Sunday in the first Spring Training game of the 2021 season. For more Phillies coverage click here.