Ron Costello

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Phillies haven't let success go to their heads. The suits upstairs — led by President Andy MacPhail, with Matt Klentak getting OJT — have kept things real.

Look, here's the thing, back on March 29, the opening game in Atlanta, no one expected the Phillies to be in contention in mid-August. Best case scenario: Get as close to .500 as possible, and let the younger players get experience.

That pretty much was the sentiment, and indeed, there were no higher aspirations.

Phillies President Andy MacPhail.

Locked in a weak division, the NL East, with Washington folding like a chair, New York dropping like a lost quarter, and Miami being Miami, dumping salary, the Phillies and Atlanta rose to the top. Both teams young, with promising futures, they are currently battling it out to win either the division or a Wild Card.

But the Phillies kept their plan in perspective.

The lineup Tuesday night against Boston didn't look much unlike the lineup on March 29, the season opener in Atlanta. The Phillies added three Miami castoffs to the roster: Infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, DL'd catcher Wilson Ramos, and Matt Stairs lookalike pinch-hitter, Justin Bour. Plus, left-handed relief pitcher Aaron Loup from Toronto.

The four thirty-year-old-somethings still have plenty of baseball life left and may or may not be with the Phillies next season. They are good additions to strengthen the team offensively and defensively without breaking the bank and without — this is the most important without — taking the focus off younger players. Manager Gabe Kapler is using them well.

So that's where we stand. Two games behind Atlanta, 12 games above .500, and a realistic shot at the postseason.

Nonetheless, even without making the postseason, here is what the 2018 Phillies have accomplished:

1) They breathed excitement back into the Faithful who believe the Phillies are not just a contender now, but a future contender with a pipeline of talented, young players.

Will Bryce Harper be in red pinstripes next season?

2) By sticking to their guns on building, they gave significant playing time to young players under club control — 3-4 years away from free agency — combining a low payroll with the millions — no, we haven't forgotten about that — raked in with the TV pact signed with Comcast and Comcast SportsNet in 2014. Raising our cable rates and putting Tom McCarthy in the broadcast booth.

3) In what could be the best free agent class in years, it caught the attention of stars such as Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Boston's left-hander Drew Pomeranz, among others, setting the course for a 2019 championship run. 

These players well know there is no better place to play championship baseball than in Philadelphia.

4) And finally, the organization has built a management team both on the field and inside the system. A field manager who has embraced analytics and is comfortable with making unconventional decisions with the lineup, the bullpen, and player positioning. 

GM Matt Klentak. Great OJT in the front office.

With the retirement of Andy MacPhail — someday, who knows when, hopefully, he'll stay a while — a management and scouting core headed by Matt Klentak will ensure winning in Philadelphia for the future.

Yes, watching the Phillies is enjoyable, but watch out with a nip and tuck here, a well placed Harper or Clayton Kershaw there.

If the Phillies make the postseason, great! Whether they do or not, get ready for the 2019 season.

In South Philadelphia, the Phillies will rule.

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