One subject Philadelphia fans would rather not think about is the possibility of regression. After four years of topping the NL East, the Phillies have finally brought a sense of tranquility to their passionate fan base. Gone are the bad memories of coming up last in the division, of the 1993 World Series, and of the losing-est franchise record in MLB history.
So why am I even bringing this up?
Rany Jazayerli recently wrote an article about the historical trends of teams with high average ages-- at or around where the Phillies have been the past couple years. His outlook isn't very optimistic. Citing the few franchises that have been where the Phillies currently stand, he essentially claims the only way out of an era of despair is to do as the Yankees do-- buy their way out. A method he says the Phillies can't afford. Unfortunately, his argument is backed by history and seems fundamentally sound.
My view is a bit different.
I see promise in what's left of the Phillies farm system. Rookie pitcher Vance Worley might not be the next Halladay, but he has undoubtedly looked fantastic. Top outfield prospect Dominic Brown has yet to emerge as a major player for the team, but has shown flashes of brilliance this season. John Mayberry, Jr. has finally shown why he was a top draft pick for Texas a few years ago.
I also see a few more years before action becomes a necessity. The Phils' top pitching staff isn't through working together after this year (as long as they can settle up with Cole) and should continue to dominate the strengthening- but still mostly soft- division.
The Phillies' lineup may average 31.5 years old, but isn't that statistic skewed by 39 year old Raul Ibanez (most likely out next year) and 35 year old Placido Polanco? You don't usually see people write off a player just because he turned 32 - so why would you write off a team because they collectively turned 32? I feel like they have a few years. A few years before serious decline is more than enough time for savvy GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. to bring on key additions not only to right the ship, but make it even better.
I see stronger competition in the future for the Philadelphia Phillies from the Braves and Nationals. I see age creeping in here and there on the offense. I see places where they could use some additional prospects.
What I don't see is this Philadelphia team faltering next year, or the next, or the next...
Please comment and let me know what you think about the future of the Philadelphia Phillies. I hope you're all as optimistic as I am.