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Welcome to The Stew’s annual team elimination posts. We’ve done similar posts in the past. Last year was done in a video game theme. This time around, we’re going with a “Game of Thrones” look.
Each eliminated team will join the “army of the dead.” But we won’t just talk about their demise. We’ll also highlight some positives, pick out a memorable moment, tell you their biggest need and let you know when the club might be good again. Enjoy.
Sorry, Philadelphia Phillies, but you won’t sit on the Iron Throne this season.
You outlasted the San Francisco Giants, but that was about it. You’re now part of the Night King’s army of the dead.
If it’s any consolation, we all knew this was coming. The Phillies are in the midst of a substantial rebuild, and work still needs to be done before they contend again.
Their resurrection could come sooner than expected, though. Are the Phillies that “prince that was promised?” They don’t have Azor Ahai on their roster, but Aaron Altherr sounds close enough.
UNBOWED, UNBENT, UNBROKEN (aka WHAT WENT RIGHT)
The Phillies are playing for the future and the future looks pretty good based on the glimpses we’ve seen this season. Top prospect Rhys Hoskins has taken MLB by storm since his August call up, hitting home runs at a record pace. Rookie outfielder Nick Williams has impressed as well, indicating Philadelphia will have a formidable lineup sooner than later with Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera and Freddy Galvis also in the mix. (Mark Townsend)
THE RED WEDDING (aka WHAT WENT WRONG)
The Phillies’ quick exit was not unexpected. They were not built to compete in 2017 and the standings and stats both reflect that as Philadelphia ranks bottom five in MLB in runs scored and bottom ten in pitching. They simply don’t have the horses right now to stand toe-to-toe with Washington or anyone else for that matter. They have to hope the struggles now will pay off down the road. (Townsend)
THE NORTH REMEMBERS (aka MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT)
Since the Phils are in all-eyes-on-the-future mode, the best moment had to be the overall ascension of rookie Rhys Hoskins and his home run tear. He set an MLB record by hitting nine homers in his first 16 games. Now — with two more Tuesday night — he has 16 homers in 32 games. He’s set the rookie record at every homer along the way too. Each one is a reason for Phillies fans to be excited for the future. (Mike Oz)
WORDS ARE WIND (aka MOST IMPORTANT THING TO FIX)
The Phillies desperately, desperately need starting pitching. They’ve had a starting pitcher throw into the eighth inning just four times this year, with most starters rarely making it through six. While Aaron Nola and Ben Lively had decent-to-great seasons, the rest of their rotation has been an injured, inconsistent mess. The Phillies have starting depth in the low minors, but that’s not going to help them much in 2018. At the very least they need someone who can eat more than five innings at a time, and for the first time in years they’re going to have to open their wallets to get him. (Liz Roscher)
A DREAM OF SPRING (aka HOPE FOR THE FUTURE)
It’s not as bad as you think. The Phillies’ rebuild is starting to pay off. Honestly. That’s not reflected in their record yet, but a fair amount of the future has arrived. J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams all got major-league experience. Aaron Nola looks like a possible top of the line guy if he can stay healthy. There are plenty of places to improve, but Philadelphia has plenty of payroll flexibility. If you don’t include players under team control through arbitration, the only member of the club with a long-term deal is Odubel Herrrera. The Phillies can go out and spend to their heart’s desire to support their young core.
Picking them as a contender in 2018 might be aggressive, though. Depending on their offseason moves, it’s possible they sneak into sleeper conversation. But we should probably pump the breaks for now. It seems more logical that the Phillies will again make modest upgrades this offseason with a focus on truly contending in 2019. Their young core will get another year of experience and learn to play together, and the free-agent class will be much better after the 2018 season. The Phillies could be in the market for a superstar next winter if they play their cards right, but they have to make themselves look presentable in 2018 in order to attract a big name. (Chris Cwik)
PREVIOUSLY IN THIS SERIES
San Francisco Giants
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