By Sam Bush
The glow from the Eagles’ Super Bowl parade will last for a long time.
Past next week’s Phillies’ spring training opening.
Past the opening of MLB regular season in April.
Probably past the entire 2018 MLB season.
A decade after winning the franchise’s second World Series title, the Phillies have a solid group of young players that seems good enough to make some noise.
Slugger Rhys Hoskins, shortstop J.P. Crawford (above), outfielder Nick Williams and catcher Jorge Alfaro proved they belonged in the majors and will get a chance to showcase their talent over a full season.
Outfielders Odubel Herrera and Aaron Altherr and second baseman Cesar Hernandez have been productive for a few years. Veteran first baseman Carlos Santana got big money in free agency to complete a lineup that has a chance to be dynamic.
It will be up to new manager Gabe Kapler to maximize their potential. Kapler replaced Pete Mackanin, who moved into a front-office role. Kapler was an unconventional choice for the Phillies after spending the past three seasons as the director of player development for the Dodgers. He has limited managerial experience but is a progressive thinker.
General manager Matt Klentak is modeling the Phillies after the Astros, Dodgers, Cubs and Indians.
“These are among the most progressive organizations in baseball,” Klentak said. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that those are the four teams that have played in the World Series the last two years. That’s where the Phillies need to head, and Gabe Kapler is going to be a huge asset to us as we try to progress to the future.”
With a ton of money available and a slew of prospects, the Phillies should be an attractive destination for free agents and they’re poised to make a run at big-name stars after the season. Bryce Harper or Manny Machado could be the final piece they need to win another championship.
This season is about proving how close they are to getting there.