2017-01-24T08:31:01-05:00And, like, does it matter. Really. The word is out: Maikel Franco is looking good. The Phillies' third baseman has reportedly dropped about five to seven pounds, thanks to a workout regimen that had him getting up before the Dominican sunrise. It was a goal he'd put in place himself, having specified conditioning as an aspect of his game to improve in 2017. It's cool to see a young player take responsibility for himself, and in one repeatedly pointed to as a cornerstone of the Phillies' (nearer and nearer) future, it inspires confidence that he will rebound from a wonky 2016 season. Philadelphia fan rules, handed down to us by a hideously intoxicated Benjamin Franklin during what historians have referred to only as "the most upsetting children's stickball game in American history," indicate that players are allowed only a single bad season, and only then if it's a sport nobody's watching anyway. The Phillies have fallen out of favor in this city, meaning Franco's sophomore slump didn't even really happen. However, now, if he's not perfect forever, we are not only expected, but actually required by law or face a fine of five schillings and a punishment of death by hanging, to run him out of town. This is actually why every Philadelphia building was constructed with pitchforks and torches beneath the floorboards. Go ahead and wrench up your floors if you don't believe me. Just make sure they're the right boards. There are a lot of horrifying things under a lot of horrifying floors in Philadelphia. Anyway, as we near the beginning of Franco's 2017 super-campaign, it's only fair to wonder how exactly we should be approaching this. We thought he was going to be huge, but his struggles last season had some even on this site - a site built around the idea of supporting the Phillies - wondering if he was indeed a permanent part of the team's future. If we expect too much of him, he could crumble, or we could set ourselves up to be disappointed. If we expect too little, it would be too easy for him to meet the standard. Logic dictates that we hope for the best and support our young third baseman however he performs. But since that's absolutely unacceptable, let's mull over our options. Let's apply tons of pressure to him! Now, the Phillies need [Franco] to take a giant leap forward so they can get this rebuilding project moving at a faster pace. It can begin with a single superstar. --Philadelphia Inquirer I know we've been preaching patience with this Matt Klentak/Andy MacPhail regime, and they've only been at work in Philadelphia for two years, and right across the street at the Wells Fargo Center there's evidence that patience pays off during a rebuild, but what if we Philadelphians were to, quite uncharacteristically, lose all grasps on reality and demand one of our sports teams quit pussyfooting around start winning games, placing the brunt - or, let's just call it what it is, the "entirety" - of the responsibility on a single player's shoulders. Do we understand the level of stress that could poison a young player with tremendous upside? Of course we do not. We're too busy dragging our untied shoelaces through puddles to comprehend pressure of that magnitude. But it doesn't matter! The 2008 World Series good will has all dried up - none of the guys from that team are even here anymore! It's time for a superstar! Not a bunch of No. 2 and No. 3 pitchers, not a grab bag of relievers serving as the closer, not loose parts from the free agent junk drawer, not farmhand randos (or "farmhandos" as we will now be calling them) from the minors - one guy who hits the ball always, is charming in interviews, gives all the kids autographs, pies his teammates after walk-offs, gives the columnists somebody to write painfully vanilla books about when they retire, and did I mention he never doesn't hit the ball? It's time for that guy to be here. Rebuilding is a process, but one process in town is enough. The Phillies don't have to take forever to be a great team again and Franco getting his head on straight can be the[...]
I don’t think I could handle it.
I realize that when baseball players I like stop playing for the Phillies they sometimes go to other homes and play more baseball. I understand this.
I am, after all, a grown-up. I have a house, a car, multiple children, a wife and a job. This is not to brag, but to prove I am fully grown with the maturity of an adult human person.
I fully embrace the knowledge that baseball players I love have loved others before and will probably love others again in the future. We’ve had to say goodbye to the 2007-2011 crew slowly but surely over these last three years, so I get it.
Chase Utley was traded by the Phils to the Los Angeles Dodgers in September of 2015. He re-signed with L.A. before the 2016 season. This was all OK for three reasons.
I felt good for him when he left. It felt like a nice fit. And when he came back, we were all happy to see him. We even celebrated when he kicked our butts with two home runs in his return to Philadelphia.
That is beautiful. And should returning members of the offense improve from last year (Franco, Rupp, Joseph, Galvis), the Phillies could potentially feature a half-decent lineup most days.
Again, this doesn’t make the Phils a playoff team unless every single possible thing goes way better than anyone could have imagined. But it certainly makes life harder on the Washington Nationals and New York Mets this year, and provides an offensive upgrade to a squad that still needed it.