My Forced Attempt At Optimism as the Braves Acquire Justin Upton
By John Stolnis
Apr. 25, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks outfielderJustin Upton
at bat against the Philadelphia Phillies at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Everyone and their mother is working on a blog or a post or a column right now that portends nothing but doom and gloom for the Phillies.
In fact, I was halfway through a post exactly like that before I stopped.
Why did I stop? I just wanted to stop feeling sad.
It’s been a depressing week… aw heck, a depressing off-season… no wait, a depressing two and a half years for Phillies fans, and today’s news that Atlanta traded for Arizona outfielder Justin Upton just two days after Ruben Amaro signed the worthless Delmon Young to be the Phils’ “answer” in the outfield, was a kick in the crotch that no one needed.
Yes, things are not looking so good right now. The Nationals, who are still the cream of the National League, are better than they were a year ago. They are the closest thing baseball has to a team without holes. Atlanta has gotten better by acquiring a young, star player to join their other young, star outfielders, forming what might be the most dynamic young outfield in the NL.
The Phillies have Darin Ruf, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry, Ben Revere and Delmon Young.
But I promised this would be a post filled with positivity, a story of hope, a tale aimed at lifting the sprits, not one that joins in the wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I’ll save that one for tomorrow.
With that… some affirmations for a cold and dreary Thursday.
- Regarding the Justin Upton trade, while the Braves seemed to do quite well for themselves in the deal, especially according to ESPN’s Keith Law, Atlanta had to give up one of their better everyday players, Martin Prado. Prado has always been a Phillie killer, hitting .303/.345/.463 in 85 career games with 11HRs and 16 doubles. Now, the Phillies will see him only six times a year. That’s welcome news.
- Although Ruben Amaro apparently has no clue how to identify what exactly a “good” baseball player is, at least he hasn’t hamstrung the franchise with a bunch of long-term contracts for aging veterans this off-season. While Mike Adams is 34 years old, the Phils are only committed to two years of his services before saying goodbye. Ben Revere is under team control until 2018, but is just 25 and should remain cheap for a number of years. John Lannan was signed for only one year, and as bad as the Delmon Young signing was, the Phils are only contractually obligated to pay him American money for this season alone. Ruben managed to avoid crippling the franchise any further with wasteful contracts that will haunt the team for years to come.
- Reports out of Clearwater are that Roy Halladay is throwing off a mound and looking good. Kyle Kendrick, too. Chase Utley is emailing anyone with an AOL account to inform them that he’s actually fielding ground balls standing erect, not on a folding chair. Good stuff, there.
- Ryan Howard should be healthy, and showed enough power last year to at least project a 30 HR season in 2013.
- In Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, the Phils still have the one of the best trios of starters in all of baseball, provided their aged limbs don’t fall off.
- They feature a bullpen with promising young strikeout arms and a more established eighth inning situation that could allow the ‘pen to blossom into one of the best in baseball, maybe as good as the 2008 squad that was vital to the team’s world championship.
- The Phillies payroll will always be robust, even if it is saturated with bad contracts at the moment. But over the coming years, once some of these dead weight deals come off the books, the Phils will be able to start spending money again. Whether they spend it well is another matter.
- The Marlins are one of the worst franchises in the sport, and figure to be horrible in 2013.
- The Mets, even if they sign Michael Bourn to play center field for them, also figure to be pretty terrible in 2013.
- There are two wild card spots in the National League. Where we once thought this would be a burden to perennial division winners like the Phillies, it now serves as a lifeline to a team that seems destined for third place.
- Last year, the Baltimore Orioles, Oakland A’s and Washington Nationals all came out of nowhere to make the playoffs, showing that sometimes, great rosters on paper don’t always equal great rosters on the field.
- No one likes to root for this, but injuries to key players are always unforeseen and can have a real effect on the course of another team’s season.
So there. I’ve provided some reasons to be positive about the current state of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Oh, and I’ll add one more…
- Ruben Amaro can’t be General Manager for life, right?
Sorry, too optimistic?