A RIVAL SCOUT SIZES UP THE PHILLIES
People stopped going to the ballpark in Philly last year, but if they thought last year was ugly, they're in for something this year. It's an absolute mess. The front office is in denial. There are no quick fixes here, because they've traded away a lot of their prospects—and they actually had some good prospects.... If I'm the GM, I trade Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon and say, It's going to be a tough year, we're going for the No. 1 pick, and start building from the ground up. You have to feel for Hamels; he's never been better. And remember, he's doing it in a hitter's park—he should have great trade value.... Papelbon is a competitive pr---; he speaks his mind and never should, but you have to give it to him that he's reinvented himself. You started seeing him mixing curveballs and changing the way he pitched, and he's improved his command and really is a top reliever. If only you could shut him up.... Charlie Manuel had it good; Charlie sat back and waited for someone to hit a home run and someone usually did. Ryne Sandberg is going to try to make things happen with hit-and-run and create offense, but he's going to have to be a magician.... Grady Sizemore is a great story for how hard he worked to get back, but he's a fourth outfielder at best, and he's going to play every day for them.... I will say Ryan Howard has looked pretty good—he's lost weight, staying on the ball and using the big part of the field, like he did in his MVP year.
The declines of the Phillies and Grady Sizemore have neatly paralleled each other. Sizemore peaked in 2008, making his third straight All-Star team, winning his second Gold Glove and first Silver Slugger, and posting his best finish in the MVP voting. The Phillies won the World Series. Now Philadelphia is one of the worst teams in baseball, and Sizemore is a 32-year-old with 15 homers in the last five years. The rebuilding Phillies have nothing to gain by investing playing time in Sizemore when they have young players like Darin Ruf, Maikel Franco and Rule 5 pick Odubel Herrera who need the at bats for development and evaluation. Even if Sizemore plays well, the Phillies aren't good enough for it to matter. Finally, Sizemore can leave as a free agent after the 2015 season, minimizing his trade value. Every at bat he takes from a player who might still be in Philly three years from now is essentially wasted.
LEAGUE RANK 15
MANAGER RYNE SANDBERG 3RD SEASON WITH PHILLIES
2015 PROJECTED STATISTICS BY ROTOWIRE.COM
AL TIELEMANS/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (HAMELS)