The 2015 Philadelphia Phillies were a tough team to watch. Not much in the way of talent, this team practically limped their way through the season, finishing with a major-league worst 63-99 record. It might be crazy to believe that there were some positives to take away from this season, but there actually were. Whether it was the Ruben Amaro getting let go, or the organization finally admitting defeat by trading Cole Hamels, there were some bright spots for the 2015 Phillies. The team actually did show signs of life in the second half, posting a record near .500.
If you are a Phillies fan who can look to the future, then 2015 was definitely your year. The Phillies were able to secure the number-one overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, a pick they have not held since selecting Pat Burrell with the first pick of the 1998 MLB Draft. Additionally, we got to see the debut of the 2014 draft’s seventh overall pick, Aaron Nola, who was brilliant in his time in the majors. There was also the aforementioned blockbuster trade of Cole Hamels that practically rebuilt the Phillies’ farm system. Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, and Jorge Alfaro were the centerpieces of the deals, and figure to be a large part of the Phillies’ future.
Finally, the most-anticipated move of the year came when the Phillies relieved Ruben Amaro Jr. of his General Manager duties in September. As the years went on, it became clear that Amaro was not the man for the job in Philadelphia, and this year was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.”
With practically all traces of years past removed from the organization, the team faced a very important offseason entering the 2016 season. There was a new sheriff in town, and change was on the horizon.
I liked the Hamels trade, but from the day it was made felt Alfaro being included was a bad mistake. My guess is he will be a huge disappointment. You should never make a catching prospect a centerpiece of trade. Another top pitching prospect would’ve been much preferable. Despite this, it’s wrong to say Amaro was not the man for the job. Thanks to him, this team has a bright future. He brought us: Franco, Nola, Eickhoff, Crawford, Thompson, Williams, Herrera, Giles, Altherr…all of which look like key components to the next contending team. In addition, he also brought us a bunch of other good looking prospects who could also be a part of the next core: Leibrandt, Eflin, Windle, Imhof, Knapp, Quinn, Randolph, Stassi, Hoskins, Brown, Kingery, Martin, and a few more. All of these young players have had impressive minor league careers and, except for Stassi, are all under 25 years of age.
He gets the blame for the rapid fall of the team from 2008, and some of it is deserved but most of it isn’t. The real reason for it was the sudden and impossible to anticipate injuries to the four most important pieces of the team at virtually the same time, and the inability of any of them to return to form: Utley, Howard, Halliday, and Lee. None of this had to do with age, as they were all between about 29 and 33 at the time. Halliday, the oldest, was a physical specimen who was as committed to his conditioning as any athlete ever. It was reasonable to expect him, and the others, to continue to perform at a high level until at least 35 or 36 years of age. To Ruben’s credit, he never used this as an excuse despite the truth of it. He deservedly can be criticized for waiting too long to start the rebuild, but did a remarkable job once he did. I wish SOMEBODY would recognize this.