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Hey Phillies Fan, Have Some Optimism!

Posted by Jonathan Nisula, Wed, March 05, 2014 10:00 AM | Comments: 34
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

PHOTO: AP

PHOTO: AP

Negadelphian. Philadelphians are known for being overly negative, having a doomsday complex when it comes to our sports teams. And no team in this city has given us more of a reason to be negative than the Phillies.

Still, I see reasons to be optimistic about this team in 2014. When I say optimistic, I don’t mean that I think the team will make a run at the NL East. And I don’t believe that on-field results are the only thing that matters when it comes to Phillies baseball, either.

So, without further ado, let’s look at some of the positives.

A.J. Burnett

I’m going to preface this by saying that I am still bitter about his performance against the Phillies in the 2009 World Series. h8 u. But the addition of Burnett to this year’s rotation could be quite important. The Phillies lost Roy Halladay (:sad face:) last season, leaving a huge hole at the top of the rotation. Cliff Lee is a great candidate to fill that hole, with Cole Hamels behind him. But after those two, the rotation was a huge question mark. Surely the Phillies didn’t want Kyle Kendrick to be the third starter, so adding Burnett gives the Phillies a solid 1-2-3 again. And if things go south, Burnett could potentially be a trade chip at the deadline–along with Lee–if Ruben Amaro Jr. is to explore that option. I see no negatives in the addition of Burnett.

Domonic Brown

Last season appeared to be Domonic Brown’s breakout season. It started that way, but did not finish that way. So why do I believe there’s reason to be optimistic with him this year? For the first time in his career, he will go into 2014 with a full, continuous, MLB season under his belt. This is important for two reasons: (1) The experience and (2) the comfort level of being a solidified piece of the team. It’s got to be hard to get into a groove when he’s being sent up and down and up and down. Now that he’s had that full season, I think this year could be a breakout season for Brown.

The Broadcast Team

At one point during the offseason, I said that the Phillies’ best additions this season have been in the broadcast booth. And to some people, that is true. There were many fans out there that did not like the team of Tom McCarthy, Chris Wheeler, and Gary Matthews. Comcast surely did some research, and replaced Wheels and Sarge with two fan favorites: Matt Stairs and Jamie Moyer (with all-time great Mike Schmidt joining them on occasion as well). This alone is a reason to look forward to the season. I think a lot of fans are going to enjoy the broadcast now more than before.

Now, I don’t think the Phillies will be all that good this year. And the future looks bleak. But there some positives to look forward to, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that. After all, it isn’t fun to be miserable.

Avatar of Jonathan Nisula

About Jonathan Nisula

Jonathan Nisula has written 240 articles on Phillies Nation.

Just a regular guy writing his thoughts for Phillies Nation. Grew up in Yardley, PA and current student.

 
 
  • Posts: 2993 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Wait a second…you have “Phillies”, “fan”, and “optimism” all in the same sentence……

     
  • Posts: 0 Charles

    “The future looks bleak” There’s some optimism for ya! Haha.

     
  • Posts: 0 Vinnie

    How about these positives…

    Will Marlin Byrd be better than Delmon Young?

    A little more on AJ… how many more wins will he have then Roy did, assuming the rest of the starters remain the same?

    I think the bench, and bull pen look better.. Nix and McDonald sucked. Lannen is gone too…

     
    • Posts: 0 wbramh

      Marlon Byrd will be a better fielder than Delmon Young. That much I can promise but no more.

      If AJ went 10-11 on an 88 game winning Pirates club, that should translate to a 7-14 record on a 65-70 game winning Phillies team – assuming he has another miracle year.
      But I’m guessing AJ’s final record will be something closer to 5-12 since the Phils’ less stable bull pen will reduce the # of AJ’s decisions.

      The bench is better – if only by the subtraction of MiniMart. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if Abreu sticks around for the entire season but appreciate the front office throwing something other than Casper Wells against the wall, er, into the on-deck circle.

       
      • Posts: 0 Vinnie

        Abreu will be better than Nix… there is another positive.

         
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Respectfully Jon – I have no optimism as far as the broadcast team is concerned. I don’t think they are good right now and are we supposed to think they will get better to the point where they will be good? As Teddy KGB said: “bad judgment”.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 wbramh

    IF AJ can have another comeback season he could be a winner for any team that scores more than 3 runs per game. Of course, that would rule out the Phillies.

    I would trade Dom Brown straight up for about 4 different top prospects in the Red Sox organization. Unfortunately, the Red Sox won’t listen.

    The broadcast team? Really? The 3rd best thing about the 2014 Phillies is their broadcast team? Pass the cyanide, please.

     
    • Posts: 0 wbramh

      Of course, I meant any ONE of four different top Red Sox prospects.

       
  • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

    I think if roles were reversed, a largely untested Wheeler, and Mathews, there would be room for higher expectation out of what comes out of the booth. Wheeler, because of his long time with the club (say he’d been with the team for decades, but not on the air), and Mathews because he’s quite easy to portray as personable.

    So I think expectations could sanely be higher in that flip. I don’t expect Moyer or Stairs to massively impress. But, if I were seasoned enough to have a feel for what to expect out of Whitey Ashburn as he embarked on his initial year, I might well have not expected much.

    I think the Tigers might have lost close to 120, then made the Series (06) within five or slightly less years, so maybe a voice or two in that short span were the same. I’d think such a guy (guys) might have sounded a lot better in the Series year. In that regard, Moyer/Stairs might be handicapped by what doesn’t look to be an exciting club. Then again, be it 1962, or 1969, only a fool would have disliked the work of Lindsey Nelson, keeping Bob Murphy and Ralph Kiner company.

    It seems kinda weird how Tom McCarthy separated from the other 2 in retaining his role. He’s a professional enough announcer despite the degree of dislike he draws at times, but the logic of retaining him is a source of curiosity, albeit a very passing one.

     
  • Posts: 167 photoFred

    Avatar of photoFred

    Fred:
    Optimism? Let’s check with Murph out in left field. Murph?

    Murph:
    Well, that’s exactly right, Fred. Optimism is the word of the day. It’s springtime and optimism runs full and fresh and what could be better than a day at the ballpark?

    Fred:
    Well I’ll tell you Murph, a day at the old ball yard is a wonderful thing but watching the Phils win is even better, I’m sure you’ll agree. Is there any actual reason for optimism…aside from it being springtime?

    Murph:
    Well that’s exactly right, Fred. I’ve had a chance to talk to a few of the players and they’re all pretty optimistic. For instance did you know that this season at Bright House Field they’ll be able to get those hometown favorites, Tastykakes and Lays Potato Chips?

    Fred (laughing)
    Well Murph, that IS good news. Maybe they will help produce that spike in OPS we’ve all been looking for.

    Murph (Laughing while trying to ignore a rude fan waving a singular digit right behind him)
    Well that’s exactly right, Fred. Y’know diet is very important to an athlete’s performance.

    Fred
    Right you are Murph! See you later for your not-to-be-missed Notebook report! Care to give us a preview?

    Murph (Laughing, wringing beer out of his shirt tails)
    Well, all I’ll say is it’s going to be brimming with optimism! Back to you.

     
    • Posts: 0 wbramh

      Superb, Fred.
      I could almost see the beer flowing down below Murph’s collar.

       
    • Posts: 0 lefty

      That was hilarious Fred. You had me laughing at “let’s check with Murph”!

       
  • Posts: 0 wbramh

    Assuming Ruben is hanging on my every written thought, I’m optimistic that he’s mulled over my suggested trade with the Dodgers.

    If so, Matt Kemp will be playing center field for the Philadelphia Phillies this season in a trade for Don Brown and Cody Asche and with LA picking up the bulk of Matt’s salary along with an LA draft choice to be named later (the draft choice to be named later is negotiable but Ruben might as well ask).

    Oh, okay, the deal has only been swirling back and forth within the confines of my own brain and shared a few times with PN – but Rube should listen up!

    Matt’s ankle just has to look good on his MRI this Friday and if all is peachy, it’s a done deal.- iat least n my mind. But the deal must be finalized before Brown and Asche look too awful in Florida which could happen by next week. Fortunately, Asche’s wrist is okay and I take that as a sign of hope for my trade to happen.

    Of course, if Asche heads west, Maikel Franco heads north and I’m twice as happy since I believe Maikel is already more prepared for the bigs than Asche. Knowing management, they’ve probably already purchased a bus ticket to Lehigh Valley for Maiikel since they prefer 35-year-old rookies but I’d be willing to take one for the club and buy the bus ticket off them since they’re counting pennies these days. Comcast must be paying the Phillies with a free HBO subscription and reduced roaming charges.

    So once Rube gets the message and pulls the trigger, here’s the batting order. It features improved defense, even better protection for Howard and 5 players in a row capable of hitting over 20 HRs this season… and more fans buying tickets and sitting in front of their TeeVee machines (just like old times). The Roberts clan over at the Evil Empire should like that last part.

    1.Revere
    2.Utley
    3.Byrd
    4.Howard
    5.Kemp
    6.Franco
    7.Rollins
    8.Ruiz

     
  • Posts: 0 Bob in Bucks

    Anyone who saw Lincoln throw away the game in the ninth inning will be light on optimism. This was one of the dumbest plays I have ever seen. Ninth inning with a one run lead, you just tagged the second out in a rundown while already falling to your knees and about to land on your face. Runner coming to third, you are the pitcher so why not try to throw out the guy coming to third, never mind you are off balance. I mean it would be so pessimistic to just hold the ball.

     
    • Posts: 0 wbramh

      I’m sure Mrs. Lincoln didn’t enjoy the play, either.

       
      • Posts: 0 Dave

        Now that made me laugh.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Nailed it.

         
      • Posts: 0 lefty

        Nice!

         
  • Posts: 2993 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    wb – I like that lineup. A lot! And I also have this feeling that throwing Franco in there might not be the worst thing in the world to do. Yeah, the argument could be made that he needs playing time in the minors. But there’s just “something” about the kid. Of course, the Phillies would never do that. And I doubt Ruben even reads this anyway. But I do like the idea….

     
    • Posts: 0 wbramh

      Thanks Chuck.
      To my mind it seems like a good deal for both Phillies and the Dodgers.
      And good deals for all the players involved.
      Perhaps one of our PN hosts has access to Ruben or someone close to him.
      Anyone train carrier pigeons here??

       
      • Avatar of "Big Ed" Delahanty

        I like the idea as well. However, Kemp is under 35, so Rube would never go for it. Yet, as the offense continues to sputter thi season, I will just imagine the that the trade did happen and create an alternate Phillies reality. Or I’ll just read a book on the philosophy of positivism.

         
  • Posts: 0 Bob in Bucks

    Sure, what the Dodgers would be looking for would be a young up and coming outfielder and a mediocre infielder! I don’t think so. The only reason Kemp is available is that they are stacked in the outfield! If anything Dodgers would be looking for pitching or some top of the line infield prospect.

     
    • Posts: 0 wbramh

      Bob: IX-nay on the “ediocre-may infielder-ay!!” Someone may be reading this in LA.

      Well,yeah, not all of us are convinced Asche’s the future at 3rd, but the Phillies are still strong on him to the point of experimenting with Franco on 1st where there’s already a big slow guy holding the job for the next 3 years. Either they trade Franco ’cause he’s already advanced too far to rot in triple A (IMO) or Asche is the odd man out.

      Here’s my thinking. The Dodgers have 34-year-old Uribe at third. He had a far more decent year than expected but the Dodgers don’t see him as their future and aren’t even convinced he’s their present. They might be interested in grooming a young guy for the job, young enough to have the potential to improve, all around. Being a starter for only part of the season last year is not conclusive, and worst case, the Dodgers would see a young starter on the Phillies like Asche as being at their triple A level and someone they could call up, especially if Uribe falters or is hurt during the pennant run. At the moment they are thin at that position and down to the speedy but extremely weak-hitting Dee at short. So the left side of their infield contains the two biggest question marks and no real depth.

      Yes, the Dodgers are stacked in the outfield with four starters and from what I’ve read, Kemp doesn’t want to be the odd man out. The Dodgers wouldn’t mind the luxury of Kemp coming off the bench but he’s far too much of a luxury at his salary. So neither side wants him to sit. And while any trade for Kemp’s services would demand some level of physical stability, even a good MRI on Friday might not be enough to convince the Dodgers that he isn’t a lingering liability, especially on a team that just signed their star pitcher to a gazillion dollar contract and could use some relief – especially if they need a body or two down the pennant stretch.

      And speaking of bodies, Dom Brown gives back to the Dodgers a decent bat and is a few years younger and less banged up than Kemp. His stats are comparable to Ethier’s, but with a measurably higher slugging percentage and a higher OPS than Ethier. Surprisingly, even better against lefties than Ethier (which is not saying much for either guy). I’d give Brown the edge at bat, particularly because of his power, and Ethier of course on defense. Most importantly, Mattingly likes having four viable outfielders and Brown would be an inexpensive #4 – or #3 if Ethier slumps or is hurt.

      As for pitching, the Dodgers are as rich or richer in that department than they are in the outfield and rank among the top staffs in MLB (stronger than last year) – plus, they have something like four more hotshot kids on the Jesse Biddle level or better just busting to join the rotation or pen.

      If they can replace Kemp with a young, relatively healthy, still inexpensive and competent bat while eating only part of Kemp’s salary it’s got to be tempting. Brown is certainly a proven power hitter and while still a defensive liability he is showing some improvement – plus when he doesn’t screw up he has an excellent arm to make up for some of the other weaknesses.

      In summary, I think you can make at least as strong an argument to ask why the Phillies would make that deal – and perhaps that’s the best argument for why it’s a good trade.

       
      • Posts: 2993 Chuck A.

        Avatar of Chuck A.

        I am certainly no expert, but my eyes tell me that IF I had to make a choice…at this point in their development….I would rather have Franco over Asche right now. There is something about this kid that is very impressive. Again…I’m not an authority or a trained scout… But I see “superstar” written all over Franco and “nice, serviceable player” next to Asche’s name.

         
      • Posts: 0 wbramh

        Chuck:

        “Nice, serviceable player” is a good summation for Asche.

        While I think it’s a bit early to hang “superstar” on Franco I do see the same positive things you’re seeing in his game and believe he has tremendous upside potential.

        Something has to give – either Asche at 3rd or Howard at 1st. If management sticks with Asche, that means Franco stays in limbo until Howard’s contract is up in 3 more years since Franco is pretty much limited to playing one of the corners (or learning how to catch). If I were Franco, I’d demand they play me or trade me long before then. Considering how much talent he’s already showing and how God awful the team is this year it would be a slap in the face not to put him in the field – to Maikel and fans, alike.

         
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  • Posts: 0 Bob in Bucks

    I agree that the Dodgers would be interested in Franco. At least that fits their situation. These proposed trades where we try to give our mediocre for their good are silly. Believe me they have scouts and can read stats. You simply won’t get quality for questionable goods.

    Unfortunately questionable goods is all the Phils have now other than three top of the line pitchers. Given current contracts there is no one, NOT one position player I would take for a premium player. No one is taking the risk with Utley and the rest, well – just go through them.

    Ruiz – Three year contract? What are you giving up to eat that?
    Howard – Nuff said.
    Utley – too risky and slowing down
    Rollins – On verge of locking down 2015 contract – he is a slight possibility.
    Asche – come on, really? NIce player but trade for him? He is holding the spot for Franco.
    Brown – still unproven, one good month, horrible fielder no instincts. Might take a flyer but not for a premium player.
    Revere – Lead off with low OBP, NO arm – other teams go first to third on anything in CF.
    Byrd – contract?

    But I do think the announcers have a chance.

     
  • Posts: 0 Bob

    Why is it that folks look to Lee as a trading comodity? If anything Hamels would be the guy to trade. Why aren’t we hearing discussions around Ryan Howard and his trade value?

     
    • Posts: 0 George

      Hamels won’t be traded because he’s the youngest of the Phils’ aces. Ryan Howard CAN’T be traded because of his large contract and major injury history.

       
  • Posts: 0 Zach L

    Have you listened to Stairs and Moyer this spring? They sound awful. There seems to be a huge lack in their ability to communicate their knowledge as veteran baseball players to the audience. Someone at Comcast needs to tell these two that it is not required to say “you know” or “I’ll tell you what” at the beginning of every sentence.

     
  • Posts: 0 lefty

    When I first heard that they might replace Wheels and Sarge, I thought it was a good idea. Not because I have anything against either guy I just thought maybe their message was getting a little old. But now I already find myself missing Wheeler. I have no problem with Jamie Moyer and thought that I would enjoy Matt Stairs as well, but I don’t.

    I just can’t understand him because he does not speak very well. You would think that good enunciation skills might be part of the approval process for announcers, but in Stairs’ case it doesn’t seem that it was. So I had a friend over to watch the game with me to see if he also had trouble understanding Matt, and sure enough he felt the same way.

    So then I tried putting closed captioning on, and whatever or whoever does that couldn’t understand him either! Don’t get me wrong, the dude seems like he can be very entertaining if he were able to speak coherently.

     
    • Posts: 0 wbramh

      Interesting observation. I thought it was just me.
      When I heard Stairs being interviewed before camp opened I could make out every other word (and turning the sound up didn’t help).
      That’s not a problem easily overcome at his age.
      Maybe it’s French Canadian. Even the French can’t understand it.

       
      • Posts: 5229 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        I thought of that too, but it’s not the “abooot” (about) or other Canadian accents that I’m having trouble with, it’s just plain understanding his sentences. I find myself picking up a few words, but then it just sort of tails off. They could have done way better tapping Pat or Corey for the job!

         
      • Posts: 0 wbramh

        I was joking about his St. John’s accent being the problem.
        I hear, or should I say don’t hear the same things you’re talking about.
        The tailing off of sentences. Mumbling.
        A tough habit to break.
        I hope Matt has a voice coach to work on it with him and not just leave him to his own devices.

         
 
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