The Philadelphia sports scene is at its nadir. The team which has arguably the brightest future finished 2015 with the worst record in major league baseball. Sports Illustrated recently gave the Phillies an “A” for its offseason.
The assessment is on the money considering the Ken Giles trade to the Houston Astros netted the Phillies a couple of viable starting pitching prospects. Vincent Velasquez, a righthander, who has a fastball that rests in the mid-90s, will have every opportunity to make the Phillies rotation next season. Mark Appel, the top pick of the 2013 draft, has struggled in the minors, but the Stanford product is essentially a lottery ticket. Perhaps a change of scenery will help Appel.
“I like what the Phillies have done this offseason,” a NL scout said. “They got a lot for Giles. I like what they did and I like what they didn’t do.”
What that means is that the Phillies were wise enough to refrain from spending huge free agent dollars on poor free agent fits. The Phillies, who are enjoying a $2.5 billion windfall, are not in position to win now. So it doesn’t make sense to be saddled with expensive, long-term deals.
“There will be a time when the Phillies can go after star free agents,” a NL scout said. “That time is just not now. Some (experts) thought the Phillies should have gone after (Jason) Heyward. I didn’t see the urgency.”
With the exception of Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz, it’ll be a very young team, which reports to Bright House Network field in a few weeks. Appel, J.P. Crawford, who projects to a future All-Star, according to Baseball Prospectus, Zach Eflin, a big-armed starter picked up in the Jimmy Rollins deal and Andrew Knapp, a highly touted catching prospect, who won the Paul Owens Award as the best player in the Phillies minor league system, are each non-roster invitees to spring training.
“You’ll get to see a glimpse of the Phillies future when spring training starts,” a NL scout said. “At this time last year, that’s what everyone wanted to see. And now they’re going to get it.”
If you compare the Phillies to the moribund Sixers, who are trotting out what might be the worst NBA team of all time, the rudderless Eagles, who have a myriad of question marks and the uneven Flyers, the local baseball team may have the most promise. Who would have ever guessed that in September