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Small victories, large defeats.

Updated: 2018-02-19T09:05:01-05:00


Carlos Santana can make an impact across the board



This may be Maikel Franco’s last chance to become Carlos Santana.

The Phillies have swapped in veterans over the years, having climbed over the bodies of countless Jeff Francoeur’s, Delmon Young’s, and Daniel Nava’s to get to this point. With a three-year deal signed just before Christmas, the Phillies gave 31-year-old Carlos Santana a longer, more intentional look than his predecessors, and in doing so sent waves of chatter through the rumor mill.

Eventually, it died out when the Phillies did none of the predicted follow-up moves over the course of many, many weeks: They didn’t sign a starting pitcher. They didn’t trade one (or more) of their young outfielders. They just sat with Santana and forced us to look at him in a vacuum. What we saw was what he is: a strong imported presence who can set the tone at the plate and benefit a lot of areas of this team.

Which ones, you ask?

Maikel Franco

Imagine the Maikel Franco you’ve always dreamed of.

What’s he doing? Crushing baseballs and demanding that everyone stay in their seats to watch? Thousands of fans weeping as Franco hammers dingers into the night sky in silence, save the gentle sobs of his prisoners?

Yes, yes; we’ve all had the fantasy. But, except for one weekend in New York a long time ago, it’s not even close to reality. At this point, we would settle for a couple more walks or getting on base consistently. Look at this passage, written in our version of reality and somehow not an alternate one in which Franco has surpassed all expectations:

Franco looks like he belongs in the Major Leagues. He is hitting for both power and average, and he is driving in runs. Franco is a major part of the Phils’ future.

That snippet from a June 23, 2015 article gives us a glimpse into a timeline in which we look back with wistful nostalgia at statements of Franco’s powerful potential, rather than scoff at what we had believed to be true. Instead, the at-bats have been desperate, the numbers have been disappointing, and it would seem that with Franco, the Phillies are one season away from losing their patience entirely.

An early winter rumor had been that Franco was following Santana down to Clearwater, indicating a mentorship was already in motion. And then, things were made clear to everyone.