By Frank Klose, Sports Talk Philly Editor
82-80. Mediocrity. For a team who has failed to make the playoffs for 10 full seasons, the closest they have been able to come to a playoff berth is last year's two games over the .500 mark. A team who almost had both the MVP and the Cy Young Award winners in 2021 failed to make the playoffs again. Fans expect improvement.
Let's recap the moves made thus far:
Additions as of the start of Spring Training:
What's the textbook definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. Therefore fans were not thrilled with yesterday's news.
Yesterday, we learned that the Phillies were "close" to agreeing to a contract with Herrera. Off-field issues have made Herrera an unpopular player in Philadelphia. But it's hard to argue he has produced much even before his May 2019 arrest that led to a suspension under MLB's Domestic Violence program.
The language of "close" usually means that a deal is pending physicals. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com reports that a major league contract is in place.
It's possible that Herrera is in a situation like starter Ranger Suárez, who is having trouble getting to the United States from Venezuela, where Herrera also is from. Unlike Suárez, Herrera made over $30 million in MLB and may have been able to get a head start to the United States.
But the move is less than inspiring to Phillies fans, who expect improvement from their 82-80 team, and not more than the same.
The reliever moves are not particularly inspiring, either, as Knebel and Familia may only be marginal improvements to equal replacements over Neris and Bradley. Camargo may not be more than Galvis or Torreyes were.
Where will that improvement come from? Free agents Kris Bryant, Nick Castellanos, and Kyle Schwarber remain free agents. A couple of them can play left field. Trevor Story is a big name, but the Phillies seem less concerned with their shortstop options.
A trade for star third baseman Matt Chapman would require talent that the Phillies do not have if they wish to rebuild their farm system.
And we now know that three-fifths of the Phillies starting rotation will start the season late: Zach Eflin is recovering from knee surgery. Ranger Suárez is stuck in an airport hotel in Colombia. And now Zack Wheeler is delayed after he experienced soreness in December.
So where does the improvement come from? Camp opens formally today and that answer is not clear. There are still players available via free agency and trades are still being made. But for now: Phillies fans are frustrated.