By Jack Ryan
Well, this isn’t good.
Three days before opening day, when the Phillies host the Boston Red Sox at 3 pm at Citizens Bank Park, ESPN magazine has some dour predictions for the Fightins:
Projected Record: 70-92
Contribution Age: 28.41
The Phillies have the fifth-oldest contribution age and project to be MLB’s worst team. Old and bad. Quite a combo. Everyone, of course, saw this coming years ago — except general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., who famously hates statistical evaluation.
But the GM finally, mercifully committed to a rebuild, trading longtime Phillie Jimmy Rollins, but he hasn’t found a taker for first baseman Ryan Howard and is still looking to deal Cole Hamels. In the meantime, 2015 feels like the 39th and final chance for “top prospect” Domonic Brown (.235/.285/.349, 10 HRs) to show he belongs. The Phils haven’t lost 90 games in a season since 2000. But this team? All but inevitable.
While the team has belatedly come into contact with reality and realized it needs a total rebuild, the contributors in 2015 are still the older players, leaving the Phillies with the seventh-oldest true age in baseball. Most of the older teams are all playoff contenders, with Philly’s contention likely limited to a competition for the No. 1 pick in the 2016 draft. Philly’s success in 2015 will be based not on its win total, but whether it can come up with more prospects such as J.P. Crawford.