It is September 11th, and the Phillies are two games away out of the playoff race. They have been difficult to watch with poor batting and awful pitching for most of the season. Yet, they are still in the playoff race! Few people believe the Phillies will make the postseason this year. However, they are not far away. A few changes in the offseason will get them into the postseason in 2020:
- Fire Gabe Kapler. Kapler has cost the Phils enough wins that they will miss the playoffs this year. Stupid pitching changes. Stupid lineup changes. Over reliance on statistics. He is lifting above his weight class.
- Focus on player development at all levels of the organization. Spend stupid money to attract better coaches throughout the minors and in the big leagues. The Phils struggled this year because none of Zach Eflin, Vince Velaquez, Nick Pivetta or Jared Eickhoff was able to make the jump to the level of stand out major league pitcher. It has been generations since the Phillies have developed multiple stand out major league pitchers. There needs to be a push throughout the entire system on teaching pitchers situational pitching and batters situational batting.
- Spend stupid money on pitchers. Only sign pitchers who are not retreads. No Madison Bumgarner. Unfortunately, no Cole Hamels. No other old dudes that are bargains because of their age but will join Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshack and David Robertson on the disabled list.
- Say goodbye to the dead weight on the 40 man roster. Say goodbye to the AAAA players on the roster (those that can get by in AAA but not in the majors). Good bye Andrew Knapp, Roman Quinn, Tommy Hunter, Pat Neshack, Nick Williams, Phil Gosselin, and the names go on and on… Convince some other team that Hector Neris would be a good set up man for their bullpen.
- Sign a quality second and/or third starter. The Phils have 4-6 guys to compete for the 4th and 5th places in the rotation: Eflin, Pivetta, Velazquez, Eickhoff, Vargas, Smyly. Two can win those positions and the rest can solidify the bullpen. The Phils need solid #2 and #3 starters after Nola that will stabilize the rotation. The best teams have 2-3 solid pitchers to rely on in the playoffs.
- Be patient with the younger players on the roster and those who need a change of scenery. Makiel Franco needs the offseason to get into shape – less fat, more muscle. Nick Pivetta needs new coaches and a new chance. Teach the young pitchers how to situationally pitch. Spencer Howard and Alec Bohm are not going to put the team over the top and can use a bit more time in the minors.
- Pull the good out of this year. In spite of poor management, the Phils will finish within reach of the playoffs. In spite of awful pitching, the Phils are in the playoff race in September – and are only a winning streak out of the final playoff spot. Bryce Harper has had his best year as a pro. Scott Kingery and Adam Haseley have shown they can contribute and thrive as every day players. The Phils traded for the player who has produced the most since a trade deadline transaction – Corey Dickerson.
I was listening to the Phils game Wednesday as I was driving in the car. Zach Eflin had just given up a 3 run home run to the Braves. Larry Anderson, the beloved Phils radio announcer, was speechless for 30 seconds. He then spent a couple of moments stammering for the right words. He then took a couple of minutes to rip the pitchers, catchers and coaches for their approach to pitching this year. I thought he was going to have a stroke. For the sake of LA, please make changes this off-season!