Tune in to the Philadelphia Phillies' Future Tonight

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | If you happen to tune into Thursday night's game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park, you're going to see it - the likely starting infield for the 2014 season.

Well, you'll see most of it anyway.

Kevin Frandsen will be at first base. Cesar Hernandez will be at second base. Jimmy Rollins will be at shortstop. Freddy Galvis will be at third base. Erik Kratz will be the catcher.

For the actual regular starting infield for next season - at least the one I'm betting on - you substitute Ryan Howard at first base for utility player Frandsen. We can get an even better grip on the 2014 lineup by adding left fielder Domonic Brown and starting pitcher Jonathan Pettibone, who also were slated to start on Thursday.

This game will feature a quick glimpse at the future of the Phillies. There will be no Chase Utley. There will be no Carlos Ruiz. There will be no Michael Young. Hernandez is considered one of the Phillies' brightest prospects. Galvis has shown he's ready to be a regular now. They are likely to be the regular middle infielders by no later than 2016, depending on how Rollins fares next season.

Kratz is a solid receiver and has displayed enough power and clutch hitting to earn the starting role in 2014. He'll be 33 next month so he's really holding down the position until Tommy Joseph has more minor-league seasoning.

Now a major free-agent splash for a power-hitting third baseman or a quality catcher could change this scenario. But the Phillies have two outfield spots to fill as well and it would make more sense to address those needs through free agency. It's also abundantly clear that the best chance the Phillies have to find major-league ready prospects in a hurry would be to trade pitcher Cliff Lee. Such a trade may influence the 2014 picture as well.

Let's be honest. Nobody really wants to trade Lee. Nobody wants to write off Utley and Ruiz. All three have meant so much to this organization for so long. There's no guarantee Hernandez or Galvis will amount to very much. Joseph may never develop into a big league catcher.

These moves would be bold to be sure. They're also very necessary for an aging team that appears to be lacking the firepower for a serious run this season. The Phillies are in a good financial position to get back to contending status quickly with the right moves. They've got to begin making them while Lee is at his highest value and while some young players are getting the chance to perform.

Get used to the faces you'll see in the Phillies lineup on Thursday night. You're likely to be seeing them a lot in the years to come.

Ted Williams lives in Emmaus, PA and is a lifetime Phillies follower. He spent 20 years in print journalism, winning state and national awards. He covered the 1980 World Series, the first championship in Phillies history.
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