The Philadelphia Phillies are in the middle of a complete rebuild and won't win a lot in 2016. Since the hayday of the trio of Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley the Phillies have been pretty bad. The front office made the full rebuild official when they dealt Cole Hamels to the Texas Rangers for a bunch of prospects including Jorge Alfaro, Jerad Eickhoff, Jake Thompson, Nick Williams and Alec Asher near the trade deadline in 2015. They furthered their attempt to gather prospects when they dealt elite reliever Ken Giles to Houston for Mark Appel, Vincent Velasquez, Brett Oberholtzer, Thomas Eshelman and Johnathan Auraz. Some think they waited a bit too long to go forward with this rebuild, but nonetheless it's happening now. This season could end up being one where Phillies fans are biding their time waiting for their next generation of legitimate competitors to make it to the big leagues and start performing.
Jeremy Hellickson, Vincent Velasquez, Mark Appel, Tyler Goeddel, David Hernandez, Andrew Bailey, Ernesto Frieri, Brett Oberholtzer, Peter Bourjos, Charlie Morton, James Russell, Edward Mujica, Cedric Hunter, Daniel Stumpf, JP Arencibia, Angelys Nina, Ryan Jackson, Emmanuel Burriss, Thomas Eshelman, Michael Mariot, Frank Hermann, Greg Burke, Gregory Infante, Johnathan Auraz
Ken Giles, Cliff Lee, Dan Otero, AJ Achter, Jonathan Arauz, David Whitehead, Nefi Ogando, Sam McWilliams, Chase d'Arnaud, Brian Bogusevic, Domonic Brown, Jordan Danks, Kelly Dugan, Jeff Francoeur, Chad Billingsley, Aaron Harang, Jonathan Pettibone, Jerome Williams, Justin De Fratus, Adam Lowen
Biggest Strength - Maikel Franco
While Maikel Franco isn't even considered a star in MLB as of yet, he is looking like a player who the Phillies can build their franchise around. Franco played about half a season last year at the big league level and was pretty good, but isn't a slam dunk star yet. This spring training, some might argue that he had the best hitting stats out of anyone in the Grapefruit League, so he might be gearing up to scortch pitchers in 2016. Franco is a legitime fielder over at third base to go along with his obvious offensive tools that appear to be blooming in front of our eyes. At 23 years old, Franco is one of the first of the next generation of Phillies to be called up and is expected to be 'the guy' that carries the team to whatever win total they are able to accumulate this season.
Biggest Weakness - Current MLB Talent
This team is clearly not built to win in 2016. If you ask the average MLB fan out there about the starting Phillies lineup, they might be able to name Ryan Howard for old times sake, and could know Maikel Franco, but after that it is slim pickings. Philadelphia is weak at starting pitching - Jeremy Hellickson isn't an ace. He and the rest of the staff are all better off as #4 or #5 starting pitchers, but most of them are young and there are more in the minors developing. Eickhoff, Velasquez and Aaron Nola likely have lengthy carrers ahead of them. In the outfield, it looks like they will start last season's regular centerfielder in Odubel Herrera alongside Peter Bourjos and either Tyler Goeddel or Cedric Hunter. This is probably the worst outfield in the league, worse than the Cleveland Indians, who are missing two starters to begin the season. This could be a year where Aaron Altherr was set up for big success in the Phillies outfield, but unfortunately he's out for 4-6 months with a wrist issue. Altherr could be young enough and good enough to be a part of the next generation of solid Phillies that builds a culture together. Yet, the team is weak, and the bullpen appears to just be thrown together to get through this year. Most of the relievers on this team weren't there last year and might only be there for one season. Most are also guys who have had major injury or consistency problems over their recent years in baseball. It could be a long year for the MLB team--might be a good year to watch minor league ball if you're a Phillies fan.
Something To Keep An Eye On - Jerad Eickhoff
Based on some numbers that Eickhoff has put up long term in the minor leagues, his brief stint in the majors last year where he had some success after the Cole Hamels trade might not have been a fluke. In 2015, Eickhoff pitched to a 2.65 ERA and posted a K/9 ratio higher than eight in 51 innings at the big league level. While his ERA and FIP numbers haven't been quite that good in the minors, the numbers that do look consistent are his above average strike out and walk rates. While Citizens Bank Park is a definite hitters park, Eickhoff could be a pleasant surprise for Phillies fans in 2016, and if he does pitch well, he could find himself as the ace of this lackluster staff by this time next year. Not bad upside for a thow-in in the Hamels deal.
Projected Lineup… Lefties*… Switch Hitters^
- Cesar Hernandez^ - 2B
- Odubel Herrera* - CF
- Maikel Franco - 3B
- Ryan Howard* - 1B
- Cameron Rupp - C
- Cedric Hunter* - RF
- Freddy Galvis* - SS
- Peter Bourjos - LF
Carlos Ruiz, Darin Ruf, Andres Blanco^, Emmanuel Burriss^, Tyler Goeddel
Projected Rotation… Lefties*
- Jeremy Hellickson
- Aaron Nola
- Charlie Morton
- Vincent Velasquez
- Jerad Eickhoff
David Hernandez - Closer, Dalier Hinojosa, Jeanmar Gomez, James Russell*, Hector Neris, Daniel Stumpf*, Brett Oberholtzer*
Fantasy Bargain - Jerad Eickhoff
See above paragraph regarding Eickhoff. He's going undrafted in leagues, you could probably go pick him up right now. He's better than a lot of guys who will get drafted.
Overrated Fantasy Option - Aaron Nola
Nola will hopefully be a good piece for the Phillies, but he isn't the best fantasy pitcing option on the team. He's actually probably one of the worst for fantasy and shouldn't get drafted at all. He has a low strikeout rate and his ERA numbers have hovered around four for his professional career. People have been drafting him because he is a former first round pick and therefore they've heard his name thrown around a bit. He probably won't hurt your team too much if you own him, but there are better options out there who will actually help you rack up K's.
In this rebuilding season, the Phillies aren't expected to win many games. Even though they are in a fairly weak NL East, they will be tough to beat out for last place. It will be interesting to see when guys like JP Crawford, Nick Williams and Jake Thompson will come up and make their impact in the bigs, but that's about all the fans have to look forward to in 2016. The Phillies are in danger of winning less than 60 games this year.