Commentary

Bring on 2018 already … these Phillies are fun

I laid my head on the pillow, and my sight began to fade. The red images on the television grew blurry. I’m not in my twenties anymore; I can’t just happily stay with these marathon games.

It’s also September. This game doesn’t matter in the standings, though sure, the Phillies could place themselves out of the first overall draft pick in 2018. But nothing happening between the Phils and Miami Marlins was going to change much about the rotation of the Earth.

I tried. I really tried to do it, but my mind said “sleep” and my eyes said “I’m with you.” So I began to drift.

And then Nick Williams, at that very moment, slapped a liner into a left-field nook. Aaron Altherr raced around the bases and chugged toward the plate. This time the throw wouldn’t result in a contest at the plate; Altherr slid in safely, the Phillies won, and rejuvenated, I typed out two final tweets before, mercifully, I gave into my better judgment.

This is how it’s going right now. I tuned in early to watch J.P. Crawford and Rhys Hoskins at the plate. And as the Phillies surrendered the lead, and found themselves far behind the Marlins, I tuned out. I had other things to do – eat dinner with my family, bathe my daughter and put her to bed, finish making my daughter’s lunch for the next day, clean the kitchen, finish some work. Again, I’m not in my twenties anymore; things have changed.

Then, while finishing my work, I caught up with Twitter. Rhys Hoskins with yet another home run, his 15th in 32 games, some absurd record that for some reason is not drawing enough attention across the country. A couple clutch hits and a Crawford double bringing the Phillies within spitting distance of Miami. I tuned back in just as Hoskins struck out to end the seventh; I have the best timing. But I stayed with it. The Phils were within a run. Let’s see what the kids do.

Let’s cut to the chase here: I’m excited for 2018. I want 2018 to be here now. Sure the Phils have plenty of flaws (pitching) and they’ll need to address a few things in the offseason (pitching, pitching), but already we can see Williams, Altherr and Odubel Herrera in an everyday outfield. We can see Hoskins plugging the middle of the order (he makes a fine No. 2 or 3 hitter, honestly). We can see Crawford settling in at whatever position he wants (he can play them all), and Scott Kingery joining him when the time comes. We can see Jorge Alfaro developing into a decent catcher, which is all we need because he’s already a pretty good hitter. This offense isn’t very far off. There’s a 2005 Phillies feel about them – you can see the really good hitters already towering over their peers, scoring walks when we used to see three-pitch outs, slamming laser beams into the outfield when we used to see weak groundouts. The 2018 offense has real potential. I can’t help but want April right now.

We’ll have to wait. Hopefully in that time we’ll see some holes filled (pitching, pitching, pitching), but this looks real. And this looks fun. Williams’ smile lights up my tablet screen. Hoskins’ swat threatens to blow out my eardrums when I’m listening on my buds. Herrera’s a joy to share with the world. You know what? Let baseball sleep on these guys – they’ll just catch everyone by surprise, and we’ll already be on board.

Tuesday night was a juicy preview of what’s to come. Hoskins calmly smashing a game-tying home run in the 10th inning. The Phils working mini-rallies until finally busting through in the 15th, with Williams lacing that ball into left and bringing the sparse crowd to its feet.

We’re the first people to witness something happening here. We’re the secret club. I have a good feeling about these kids, especially after getting a full night’s rest. Times may have changed, but this team gives me those goosebumps, those which I haven’t felt in years.

7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Robert DiCiccio

    September 13, 2017 at 8:32 am

    That starting lineup was the closest this team has come to who should be on the field every day next year. Not sure if Crawford is the answer and I really love Hernandez’ play and approach to the game, so that would be my only change.

  2. Brian

    September 13, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Well said Tim. My thoughts exactly. Unfortunately, I could not stay up until the 15th. Saw Hoskins homer in the 10th. Hung on for the 11th, then the 5 am alarm was telling me, “are you nuts?” But it was fun to watch. If you didn’t see it already, check out Williams post-game interview on MLB Network. He’s a fun guy to watch.

    Brian
    Phillies Nation, Westchester County Division

  3. David Weaver

    September 13, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Nice article, but some cautions:

    Right off, I would add that September is often like Vegas, what happens there stays there. The pressure is off. The rosters (especially with pitching) are bloated and sketchy.

    Yes, many of the kids look good, but there are questions. Sure. Alfaro can hit. But he dropped two throws at home last night that cost runs. The pitchers also seem to struggle with his calls more than with Rupp. Right now, his offense outweighs those deficiencies, but the deficiencies were the reasons his call-up was delayed and he needs to address them to be a major league starter in 2018.

    The Phillies MUST learn to run the bases. How is it that with Mickey Morandini and Juan Samuel, both decent baserunners, the team gets guys thrown out left and right? Last night as the second time this season a player had three outfield assists in a game against us. When you have been in a staggering 55 one-run games, those blunders often mean losses. Also, Dee Gordon has 52 steals this season for Miami. The entire Phillies team has 54, with Hernandez leading at 14 and only Galvis joining him in double-digits. This is not Pat Burrell, Carlos Ruiz, and Ryan Howard out there. These are young kids with wheels. How is it that our best guys cannot steal even two bases a month? Think about it. Every stolen base means scoring position. We need that edge.

    As noted, pitching, pitching, and more pitching. The Phillies have spent years stockpiling arms in trades, and if they had not drafted and fast-tracked Nola, the cupboard would be looking pretty bare. No way to stop guys from getting hurt, and I hope all our wounded come back stronger, but other guys have to step up. And they can. I was ready to ditch Morgan, as many were, and suddenly it all seemed to click for him. I would love to see some of our surplus infielders dealt for a reliable starter the team can control for 4-5 years. Yes, I know how hard they are to come by, but it can be done. Maybe add another in free agency. Then, come spring, see who steps up to claim the remaining spots or to secure bullpen roles. As the Phillies have shown, they have the money to overpay to get guys on short-term deals. Before it was just to flip them, but now, it can be to bridge between today and the future a year or two down the road.

    I am more positive than I was early in the year, but still see 2018 as a struggle to keep close to .500 with 2019 maybe seeing a return to the winning side which should mean Wild Card contention through September. I still see 2020 as the likely time to contend, so any improvements we make to have that happen sooner are welcomed.

    • Mike Fassano

      September 13, 2017 at 1:24 pm

      I guessing that you’re a “glass half-empty guy”. A lot of fans feel that we’re seeing a mirage, but perhaps April and May were a mirage. I’ll agree that we definitely need another pitcher as good as Nola (I like this Dan Straily who’s starting against us tonight). I think the Phillies should decide what their plans are for Velasquez right now. Deep down they know what they’re going to do, so do it now. He has done nothing to automatically be awarded a spot in the rotation.

  4. Nick M

    September 13, 2017 at 10:54 am

    How can you leave out the great Adam Morgan coming out of the bullpen. He proved us all wrong, remember? Not excited for him?

  5. Betasigmadeltashag

    September 13, 2017 at 5:01 pm

    This off season you get what you can for Franco, Rupp and Joseph. Hopefully get a decent return for Hernandez. And it is dumb to worry about years of control fir Kingerly. Their starting lineup next year Crawford 3rd Gavis SS Williams RF Hoskins 1B Altherr LF Herrara CF Kingerly 2B Alfaro/Knapp C Nola P
    You could flip Galveston with Altherr.

  6. denzen

    September 14, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    The family and I agree; I am not watching games by myself anymore. Aaron Altherr needs to stay healthy. I am hoping Hoskins good plate habits rub off on Franco. I like Crawford playing all over the infield for now, as long as he gets enough at bats. One weird thing to me, is that people are still talking down Herrera, and talking up Roman Quinn, whoever that is.

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