Ron Costello

Friday, February 10, 2017

Two seasons.

Two major league baseball seasons in Philly starting on April 3 in Cincinnati.

And the second?

The Phillies Second Season starts on August first in California against the Angels.

Why two seasons?

Because the line up they'll take to Cincinnati will look much different than the line up they'll take to Anaheim.

Lookit, the Phillies picked up some quality ball players since the final game of the 2016 season. Twenty-nine-year-old right-hander Jeremy Hellickson they already had, so they resigned him for a year. Good move. Then they traded for the 32-year-old Boston right-hander Clay Buchholz and picked up his contract, taking the club option for 2017 at $13.5 million.

Another good move. A free agent at season's end — the Second Season not the first — Buchholz will want to pitch his heart our for the Phillies so he can sign a multi-year, high-value contract in 2018. Make sense?

The rest of the rotation will be made up of Nola (27), Velasquez (28), and Eickhoff (26).

Still not done they picked up veteran outfielders Michael Saunders (one year) and Howie Kendrick (two years) to stabilize the outfield. And signed utility outfielder-infielder Chris Coghlan to a minor league contract and switch-hitting 33-year-old Dan Nava, also to a one-year, minor league deal, for the bench.

Good moves — all are decent players who add quality and experience to a young team.

Then, not to overlook the bullpen — Pete Mackanin's biggest complaint last season — they signed thirty-nine-year-old Joaquin Benoit (one year) and bought Pat Neshek (one year) from Houston to fit in with the youngsters and stabilize the bullpen.

Smart stuff, here. I'm convinced GM Matt Klentak knows what he's doing.

So let's get back to the two seasons.

It's doubtful that any of the veterans mentioned above — Hellickson, Buchholz, Saunders, Kendrick, Coghlan, Nava, Benoit and Neshek — have a future with the Phillies beyond the First Season. That's because the First Season ends on July 31, the trade deadline. These veteran players will have value for contenders or contender want-to-be's and if they have a good First Season, will be flipped for younger talent.

Flipped, i.e., traded.

Klentak's strategy could backfire, of course, if these veterans go bust in the First Season. But not really, because part of their presence will be to mentor the young players.

And, part of their presence will be to keep spots warm for the young players as they develop at Reading and Lehigh Valley.

You and I both know the Phillies Double A and Triple A clubs are loaded with prospects who want only one thing: A ticket down the Northeast Extension to the Show. So, let them fight it out during the season's first half and see who makes it before or after July 31.


Take Nick Williams, for example, who already has a slight reputation for not playing Pete Rose baseball, which the Faithful admires with boos and ahhs. The plan outlined above tells Williams, "you want to come to the Show? Prove it." Here's another example: Michael Saunders, 30, had 124 hits and 24 home runs last season for Toronto. The Phillies don't have to flip him. He might look fine in their outfield through 2018.

Are you listening, Nick Williams?

My best guess is the youth movement will really start in the Second Season. Who stays and who goes will be determind on the field in Philly, Reading, and the Lehigh Valley.

We'll see.

You can't ask for more than that.

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