Five reasons to be optimistic about the Phillies

The Phillies are in last place. They have one of the highest payrolls in major league baseball, a general manager who is content to sit and wait and see what happens and a core of players in its mid to late 30's.But it could be worse.

No infield trio has ever played more games together than Howard, Utley and Rollins. Credit: Getty Images No infield trio has ever played more games together than Howard, Utley and Rollins. Credit: Getty Images

 

The Phillies are in last place. They have one of the highest payrolls in major league baseball, a general manager who is content to sit and wait and see what happens and a core of players in its mid to late 30's.

 

But it could be worse.

 

There are glimmers of hope on this team that make it seem possible (but maybe not probable) that the Phillies could be competitive in 2015, and perhaps have one more shot at a playoff run before the core that brought home a World Series title in 2008 rides into the sunset.

 

The Bullpen

The bullpen is fantastic, reliable and incredibly young. Ken Giles has appeared in 40 games for the Phillies and has a minuscule 1.08 ERA. He has used his 100 mph fastball effectively as Jonathan Papelbon's setup man and it's a safe bet that he is the closer of the future.

The Phillies also have reliable arms, both lefty and righty, from Jake Diekman (94 k's in 66.2 inning's pitched), Justin De Fratus (2.52 ERA) and it appears Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is rounding into MLB form, perhaps in time for 2015.

Maikel Franco

The 22-year-old third baseman got a lot of fanfare in spring training but was relegated to Triple-A for most of 2014. This was a good thing. He tore through minor league pitching and looks to be comfortable with majors pitching as well. He has five RBI in nine games with the Phillies, and has shown comfort at the hot corner. And, starting at first base Monday night in San Diego, shows he can play a few different positions.

He will be a true candidate for Rookie of the Year when he starts in 2015.

Ben Revere

It took a while for Phillies fans to be sold on Ben Revere. They tried to turn him into something he is not. Revere, despite his two home runs this season, is not a power hitter. Nor does he have a great arm out in center field. But he has prolific speed on the bases and in the outfield, and he is a fantastic singles hitter. Whether or not he wins the batting title in 2014, he will be the leadoff man in 2015.

A healthy Cliff Lee

The Phillies couldn't find a trade partner for Cliff Lee due to his injury woes in 2014. But that just means he'll have to pitch in 2015 to show his value. And paired with Cole Hamels at the top of the rotation, the Phils front office could reasonably be buyers in the starting pitching market to create a workable staff behind the top two. If Lee and Hamels pitch as they usually do and they get some help lower down in the rotation, with a top bullpen, the pitching could be good next season.

A lot of pieces

The Phillies have a lot of different pieces and a lot of decisions to make this coming offseason. They have hot-hitting Grady Sizemore, slugging (but also strikeout king) Marlon Byrd, and of course, the core of Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. It's an embarrassment of riches. But it's also depth, it's experience, and its something to build off. If Ryne Sandberg, Ruben Amaro and company can come up with a workable strategy to combine their experience with some youth and free agent acquisitions, who knows what can happen.

 
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