The Philadelphia Phillies finalized a one-year deal with Michael Saunders yesterday. The move is the finishing touch on the Phillies outfield for the upcoming season.
It sounds like out of Phillies camp Saunders will be slotted as the starting right fielder. Pairing him with center fielder Odubel Herrera and also newly required Howie Kendrick in left field. Saunders who made his first All-Star team last year slashed .253/.338/.478 with 24 home runs.
The Phillies finished 71-91 last season. But seems like there’s definitely a sense of direction going on. Especially with the young staff led by Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez, and Jerad Eickhoff. Also young promising pieces in Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez, and previously mentioned Odubel Herrera.
I don’t necessarily think the Phillies are ready to compete quite yet, but I also don’t think it’s going to be the same team we’ve beat up on the past two seasons. Mets have a 26-12 record the past two seasons against the Phillies. The Nats also have posted a 26-12 vs Philadelphia the past two seasons. So lately we’ve been able to chalk up wins against Philly, their three young pitchers lead me to believe it wont be as easy this year for the Mets.
The Mets didn’t face Nola last year but they did see Velasquez and Eickhoff multiple times. Both pitchers threw pretty well in their outings. Velasquez was 1-1 with a 1.76 era and 20k’s in 15.1 innings. Eickhoff was 0-2 but with a 2.63 era with 23k’s in 24 innings. One Phillies pitcher whose back because he accepted his qualifying offer is Jeremy Hellickson, who the Mets tattooed for 34 hits and 21 earned runs in 24.1 innings (7.77 era) last season. The Phillies also traded for Clay Bucholz whose looking to rejuvenate his career. Maybe luck of the draw with the schedule will lead to more Hellickson and Buchholz starts and less of the other three. Highly unlikely though especially with the Mets having six games in the month of April against the Phillies.
This all being said, I don’t think the Phillies dethrone Washington or keep pace with the Mets obviously. Could they make up 8 games on Miami? Possibly, with the Marlins pitching problems I don’t think that’s out of reach by any means. But for the first time in a little while it does seem like the Phillies have a plan for their future, I guess time will tell just exactly how well they execute it.
One thing we can all celebrate is no more Ryan Howard. I definitely won’t miss seeing him in a Phillies uniform anymore, I already have enough nightmares caused by him over the past 13 years.