Philadelphia Phillies: A look back at a decade of honeymoons, nostalgia and reconstruction

Game One of the 2009 MLB World Series at Yankee Stadium on October 28, 2009 (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Game One of the 2009 MLB World Series at Yankee Stadium on October 28, 2009 (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) /
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PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 29: Phillies General Manager Matt Klentak and manager Pete Mackanin /

The Matt Klentak era began for the Phillies and things have slowly turned around

The Matt Klentak era began in the 2016 season, and would be the final Phillies’ years for Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz. This season saw the increased production in Herrera, Cesar Hernandez, and Hector Neris, while the team failed to eclipse 75 wins.

These were dark days, where names like Jeremy Hellickson and Jeanmar Gomez were heavily relied upon in the pitching staff, with Tyler Goeddel and Cody Asche splitting time in left field.

Philadelphia Phillies
Philadelphia Phillies /

Philadelphia Phillies

The Aaron Nola show was the highlight of the 2017 season, where he displayed glimpses of the ace we see today. That’s about it. Another sub-70 win season, finishing last in the division, and culminating in the firing of then-manager Pete Mackanin. Oh, and they turned a triple play.

Yet, new owner John Middleton promised a shift in franchise ideology, leading to the hiring of analytics-driven Gabe Kapler as new the manager.

The last two seasons saw the rise of the Phillies from mediocre-at-best to above-average, winning 80+ games in back to back season since 2011-2012. Aaron Nola was sensational in 2018, earning an All-Star bid and finished third in the Cy Young. Rhys Hoskins also continued his power surge to start his career, being the fastest Phillie to 30 home runs and 100 RBIs.

As for outside the organization, the Phillies went on a spending spree in the 2018 offseason, acquiring the likes of Andrew McCutchen, J.T. Realmuto, and Bryce Harper. Realmuto had arguably the best defensive year for a catcher since Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez in 2019. And Bryce Harper signed the largest contract in MLB history…until Mike Trout broke it later that offseason.

It was clear after the 2019 season that average would no longer be acceptable, and Kapler was fired. World Series winning manager Joe Girardi was hired to bring a championship pedigree back to the organization.

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While most of the decade was hard to watch, and tested the mettle of most fans, it was also a time of reflection. We celebrated the careers of many players who came up through the organization, and closed out a massive chapter in the franchise’s history. And now, with the revitalization of the roster and staff, the Phillies are primed to make another push back into the playoff fold. A few pieces may still be missing, but the prior seasons of disdain have led to the coming seasons of triumph.

At the very least, this team makes watching baseball fun. I mean did you see Bryce Harper’s reaction after hitting that absolute moon shot walk-off grand slam?

Baseball is exciting again in Philadelphia.