It’s already a habit.
Every morning before a Phillies’ spring training game, beat writers tweet that afternoon’s starting lineup. And it’s already a habit: “Is Roman Quinn there?”
I love Roman Quinn. He’s fast. He’s exciting. He can pop line-drive doubles and turn them into triples – hell, home runs. Every ground ball is a possible base hit. Every fly ball hit to him is a chance to watch a gazelle track down a dying fowl. Sit there in awe as the thing drops slowly into his easy reach.
I’m now of the impression that Quinn should simply bypass the pleasantries and play every day in Philadelphia. We don’t need two months in Lehigh Valley to ensure he’s playing at a high level. What’s more to prove? The kid will get injured regardless of where he’s playing. Let him play. He’s the most thrilling thing out there. Let him play.
But then again, I get it. Quinn has a clock attached to him, and that means money. Same thing for Nick Williams, J.P. Crawford, Dylan Cozens and Jorge Alfaro. Time is money. And the Phillies plan to be spending a whole lot of it sooner than later, so until sooner, let’s fill in the gaps with Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders, veterans whose cost is limited, players whose futures are predetermined.
But damn. I’m excited.
The Phillies boast potentially exciting players just miles away from South Philadelphia. We’ve been watching it this weekend; regardless of if Quinn is on the lineup card, he may get in the game and slice a single, steal a base and score a run. Then Williams knocks a two-run single into right. Cameron Perkins gets a couple hits. Brock Stassi does his job. And Cozens? The ball hasn’t yet landed.
By 2019 this team could be good. Really good. The best-case scenario is Quinn and Crawford set the table for Odubel Herrera, Maikel Franco and Tommy Joseph. Or maybe Rhys Hoskins. Cozens or Williams is there. Alfaro? He’s bashing 25 home runs and throwing out 25 runners per season. On the mound are steady starters capable of quality outings. Aaron Nola. Vince Velasquez. Jerad Eickhoff. Jake Thompson. Zach Eflin. Ben Lively. Ricardo Pinto. And on and on. The fun never stops. Someone gets injured? Don’t worry – we got another one right behind him. By the way, let’s sign Bryce Harper or trade a couple prospects for Mike Trout. Let’s go all in if we need to, since we still have a dozen top prospects waiting in the wings.
This could be good. Really good. And how quickly it has all changed. I keep debating this with myself – I say, Tim, the Phils don’t have a Dansby Swanson. They don’t have a Yoan Moncada. Too many question marks. But then there are too many. If there’s too many, at least some of them will work, and I’ve seen enough of everyone to know that some of everyone is going to be good. Really good. Imagine Williams and Cozens don’t hit, and Thompson and Lively don’t hit. They still have Quinn and Perkins. They still have Eflin and Pinto. And on and on. And they can still sign Harper. They can still trade for Trout.
This is going to work.
But right now I look at the lineup cards for one name – just one. It’s all I can do. I notice that Cozens hits a bomb, that Hoskins hits a bomb, that Stassi strikes a gapper, and while I’m excited, I focus back on one name. What did Roman do? That way with each new promotion, each new milestone, there’s another new name to follow. Take it slow. Give it time.
I believe this is the best group the Phillies have fielded since I’ve been alive. Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, Jimmy Rollins, Randy Wolf and Brett Myers came up around the same time, but this is one concentrated blast that I’ve never seen before. It’s as if in April we’ll have one team, and in September it’ll be an entirely different group. It’s very possible. We’ve been patient, waiting through Crawford’s slumps and Williams’ turbulence. Now we’re here. Now we’re ready.
This could be good. Really good. But right now I stick to one name. It’s all I can do. Take it slow. Give it time.