Since general manager Pat Gillick guided the Philadelphia Phillies to a championship, Dave Dombrowski, PBO (president of baseball operations), is the first Phillies front-office exec to ignite the postseason fever for suffering fans. And many locals can’t wait for spring training despite a successful football team. Hard to believe, Harry.
Let The Games Begin:
Dombrowski went to the Winter Meetings with a positional plan: The results were shortstop Trea Turner, mid-rotation arm Taijuan Walker, pen lefty Matt Schram and Rule 5 pick right-handed stud Noah Song, who had recorded superb numbers in Low-A ball. Without taking a roster slot, though, this Navy officer will be available for 2025, barring a waiver.
Put Another Way:“Building a baseball team is like building a house. You look for the best architects, the best builders — and then you let them do their jobs.” – Pat Gillick
Put Another Way:
“Building a baseball team is like building a house. You look for the best architects, the best builders — and then you let them do their jobs.” – Pat Gillick
The first of two divisional rivals: The Atlanta Braves have questions at shortstop and in left field, plus their three successful rookies have had only one campaign: Spencer Strider, Michael Harris II and Kyle Wright could experience some regression. Bullpen-wise, they have a surplus of dependable hurlers, but top fireman Raisel Iglesias may handle just the ninth.
Despite replacing three 2022 starters, the New York Mets again will rely offensively on Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso, who played 161 and 160 contests last summer respectively. And they’re hoping Starling Marte –recovering from core muscle surgery– is healthy for the entire 162. Moreover, the Mets have the weakest pen of the three National League East foes.
Phillies for ’23:
When the final out completed the ’22 campaign, the ’23 Fightins were merely a soft blur, but spring training will initially bring the squad more into focus, and the first half’s end will complete the picture with crystal clarity. Ergo, the journey to another playoff appearance is an expectation of the Phils faithful.
On the five-man staff, Walker replaces Zach Eflin, who had been on the injured list for the last two stretch drives.Therefore, the red pinstripes again have a solid foursome for the 2023 playoffs with Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Ranger Suarez and Walker. Plus Bailey Falter and perhaps Andrew Painter will win a spot in spring camp or the second half.
Offensively, Turner replaces Jean Segura and moves Bryson Stott to second base. Plus Bryce Harper will start swinging a bat at March’s end, which narrows his DH return timeline. Realistically, Turner’s production will partially offset Harper’s absence and keep the Phillies within striking distance. Plus expect Brandon Marsh and Stott to improve.
Up the middle, the defense is a strength, while the corners are usually offensive positions. Moreover, the bench was secondary to acquiring a backend reliever, who has a four-seam fastball with a 98.8-mph average. But the new bench creates two openings for Darick Hall, Jake Cave, Kody Clemens and Dalton Guthrie.
To some local’s ire, long-shot Scott Kingery could be a reserve. However, he doesn’t deserve all the blame since 2020. Under Gabe Kapler and his one-size-fits-all coaches, though, they changed Kingery’s batting approach to a launch angle, which also affected others. In fact, Kingery averaged .250 at Triple-A for July through September last season.
Phillies Top Eight Relievers:
Like two bench spots and a fifth starter, the relief corps’ last spot will favor Sam Coonrod (five career saves) if he has a sound shoulder and clears waivers. Or Nick Nelson, Mark Appel, Cristopher Sanchez and Michael Plassmeyer could compete for the final bullpen slot. Realistically, the Fightins have filled the top roles before pitchers and catchers report.
Andrew Bellatti had two saves in 2022 and pitched in other high-leverage situations. That stated, he also had acceptable performances in 75 percent of the full schedule and playoffs. Due to offseason deals, though, he is seventh on the pen depth chart but will also see some opportunities in the seventh frame.
Strahm is the third relief-corps southpaw, and he had four saves last summer with a 3.83 ERA in 50 games for 44 2/3 innings. So, he’ll likely join Connor Brogdon to handle the seventh, but both will also work in other important outings. Plus Strahm has a decent track record as a reliever in three of his last four healthy campaigns since 2018.
With experience, Brogdon can grow with his 95.3-mph fastball and deceptive changeup. But it will be difficult in ’23 with the additions of Gregory Soto and Craig Kimbrel. Moreover, Brogdon had two saves in 2022 with a 3.27 ERA: 47 contests and 44 frames. For now, though, the bullpen strength is visible with him working the seventh inning.
Manager Rob Thomson says he’ll continue using a committee for the final three frames, but he is also leaving the pen gate ajar if someone dominates the ninth. Yes, the adrenaline rush of closing out a game has benefited Kimbrel in his career, but he has struggled in other innings. And keep in mind, a difficult ninth probably happens in one of every three chances.
With 30 saves and a 3.25 ERA for ’22, Soto –like Jose Alvarado– joins the Phils with control problems, but the closer could also benefit from the pitching coach’s adjustments. Stuff-wise, his four-seam fastball averages 98.8 mph, which gives the red pinstripes two of the hardest throwing southpaws. But can he have success for a contender, not an also-ran?
The other flame-throwing lefty Alvarado had overcome most of his wildness on his Triple-A detour and dominated until the World Series: two good outings out of four. And even though Kimbrel and Soto might be more effective than Alvarado and Seranthony Dominguez, they still must prove it.
Dominguez was also solid until the Fall Classic for the underdog Phillies. Like Alvarado, though, Dominguez feels he earned more than the Fightins are offering. Plus both are the only remaining arbitration-eligible players for Philadelphia, and they will handle the high-leverage seventh or eighth innings.
While many major league supporters expect an immediate impact from prospects, going from 16 clubs to 30 changed new hopefuls’ readiness, and franchises must balance expensive stars and long-term contracts with MLB-minimum youngsters. And –like writers– improvement never stops even for a Greg Maddux, Bob Gibson or a superstar.
In 1980, they reached the postseason in three of four summers before their World Series victory. But the 2008 crew went from losing the 2007 NLDS to a Fall Classic triumph the following 162. So, making the “big dance” in their first playoff opportunity since 2011 bodes well for consecutive appearances. But what element will they lose? Surprise!
NOTE: Warriors Worth Every Dollar