Philadelphia Phillies: Did the Front Office Just Fall Asleep at the Wheel?

Phillies fans had waited all offseason for something big.

Re-signing ace starting pitcher Aaron Nola to a long-term deal had been no small feat, but somehow, it didn’t quite count.

After four years that saw Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, Nick Castellanos, and Trea Turner added to the roster, for Philadelphia, ‘big’ has come to mean one thing: ‘big hitter’.

The departure of fan favourite Rhys Hoskins to the Brewers at the start of the year only served to add fuel to this feeling. 

In November 2023, with the ink still wet on Nola’s contract, local sports radio presenter Jack Fritz of 94 WIP, launched a segment he named ‘Trout Phishing’. The campaign to bring Mike Trout to Philadelphia may have been tongue in cheek, but Fritz, who watched Trea Turner’s season turn around in early August after he called on fans to show support and give the struggling shortstop a standing ovation, seemed to have the Midas touch.

So ‘Trout Fishing’ was funny, but was it impossible? Either way, it highlighted the mood and expectation of Phillies fans, who had come to believe it was just a matter of time before the next slugger was lined up for the 2024 season.

But then nothing.

National media has been keen to make links between the Philadelphia Phillies and Cody Bellinger, but even with centre fielder Brandon Marsh undergoing surprise knee surgery in early February, this move seems extremely unlikely. 

Dave Dombrowski is on record as saying that the core of the team is pretty much in place. With a roster already top-heavy in its salary weighting, rather than acquiring expensive new bats, younger players like Johan Rojas and Cristian Pache look set to see more playing time this year. 

Dombrowski’s confidence in his existing roster and flurry of last-minute one-year signings such as pitcher Spencer Turnbull and outfielder Whit Merrifield have done little to shake the perception that the Phillies front office has been asleep at the wheel.

True or not, much will depend on how the season plays out. If the Phillies can successfully make a run for the World Series, perhaps all will be forgotten. But bow out early, and fans will be quick to remember.

As Bryce Harper enters his age 31 season, every year is fast becoming ‘the year’ in Philadelphia. The World Series window is still very much open, but for how much longer?

Article by Tom Baker. Look out for more Phillies content from Tom during the 2024 season.

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