The Philadelphia Phillies haven’t won more than 73 games in a season since 2012, when they ended 81-81. Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard are the only players remaining from the magical 2008 World Series-winning team. The team is young, but will the influx of youth result in an improvement from their recent abysmal performances?
“The 2016 Phillies could lose as many games as the 99-loss 2015 edition, and maybe more,” wrote ESPN Senior Writer Jayson Stark in his blog last night. “At least this year, the journey is leading them someplace.”
Rather than blowing money on big-name free agents, Philadelphia has been growing their farm system, one ranked sixth-best in baseball by Keith Law, methodically through trades and draft picks. The Cole Hamels trade brought Jerad Eickhoff to Philly, and he finished the 2015 campaign with a 2.65 ERA in eight starts.
It has been an arduous process, one that took longer due to former GM Ruben Amaro’s inefficiency in the front office. The core of those championship teams have mostly moved on, leaving veterans like Ruiz and Howard responsible for mentoring the youngsters in the clubhouse.
“I will try to help everybody,” Ruiz told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. “I’m enjoying being here with these young guys. They make me feel young, too.”
The young guys will have a chance to showcase their stuff, hoping to bring back glory to a city that seems to perpetually fall short in their championship pursuits. Despite another rebuilding season, the future is brighter than it has been.
“It’s a new beginning for the whole organization, and a new beginning for myself,” said newly-acquired 23-year-old pitcher Vincent Velasquez. “Now it’s time to go out and make it happen.”