The Philadelphia Phillies current building project isn’t likely to produce legitimate World Series dreams until the next decade begins.
The Philadelphia Phillies seem highly likely to not appear in the World Series until sometime during the next decade. That’s hardly a bold statement. Instead, it’s presented to address the dream seasons that are being played out by the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Cubs. And yes, making it to the final round of baseball’s playoffs constitutes a memorable campaign regardless of the result.
Eight years ago Charlie Manuel led his red squad to the 2008 Fall Classic. The Phillies appearance against the Tampa Bay Rays came one season after Philadelphia qualified for the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Having not made the post-season since 1993, it was pleasantly surprising that the Phillies actually beat the Rays to take top honors.
That second-ever championship season was unexpected based upon the 2007 sweep Philadelphia suffered in the National League Division Series against the Colorado Rockies. In 2008 the Phillies’ starting eight included: Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Pedro Feliz, Pat Burrell, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino. The starting staff contained: Cole Hamels, Jamie Moyer, Brett Myers, Kyle Kendrick, Adam Eaton and toward the end of the regular season, Joe Blanton. In the bullpen: Brad Lidge, Chad Durbin, Ryan Madson, Clay Condrey, J.C. Romero, Rudy Seanez, Tom Gordon, Scott Eyre and J.A. Happ all worked.
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In terms of the 2008 National League regular season rankings: The Phillies offense generated the third-best (.770) OPS. The pitching staff posted the fifth-best WHIP (1.36). Defensively, Philadelphia’s .985 fielding percentage ranked ranked fifth and its .964 defensive efficiency ratio ranked seventh.
General manager Pat Gillick improved upon the foundation that Ed Wade built with Ruben Amaro. Gillick’s gut instincts and contacts within the industry were seen as key elements in helping to provide Manuel and his coaching staff with the right mix of youth and experience. All second-guessing that occurred during the years that led up to the World Series parade was proven to be powered by hot air. Most comments lamenting how many more championship rings the Phillies should have earned past 2008 often appear to be offered by personality types that were proven wrong when Lidge struck out Eric Hinske to secure the trophy.
Each World Series winner needs talent, consistent effort and good fortune to succeed, among other things. The Phillies embodied all three elements noted eight years ago. It took many years of rebuilding and a handful of seasons of building in order to gain access to the final baseball dance. Then, the needed 11 post-season games were won.
It’s natural for all fans to hope their team can improve year-to-year. But, each non-qualifying contingent observes the playoffs differently. Organizations that rest on the cusp of playoff contention are scouting next season’s potential fall opponents. Franchises, like the Phillies, that are many years away from printing post-season tickets, merely enjoy what might be some day.
The August trade of Ruiz to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the season-ending farewell party for Howard were significant moments in Phillies’ history. The end of both player’s days in Philadelphia officially cut ties with all remaining players from the 2008 team. That’s another reason why GM Matt Klentak will continue preaching generalized renewal to the fan base as he toils in the front office.
His efforts and the mega-bucks available to him will likely combine to create progress. Then, sometime during the next decade, legitimate hope of World Series contention will be embraced by the faithful.