For the Philadelphia Phillies, it is all about looking forward and so far, it seems they have finally begun to do just that.
Prior to the final game in the series against the Chicago Cubs, the Phillies placed third baseman Michael Young on waivers. It is likely that they will try to find a way to trade him after all. Young’s no-trade clause is still in effect but it seems that his feelings about waiving are starting to change, as the opportunity to play for a contender still exists.
Ironically, it was the day that Young cleared waivers that saw his expected long-term replacement Cody Asche record his best offensive day as a pro, going 3-for-5 with two runs, two RBI, a double and his first Major League home run.
But the 23-year-old wasn’t the only Phillies rookie to record a first on the day as Asche’s Triple-A teammate Ethan Martin, got his first win in just his second start. Martin, 24, also had his best game lasting five innings and giving up just one run on four hits and three walks. He also struck out four.
All and all, it was a great game for the Phillies youth as their “under 30′s” performed exceedingly well. That includes the 25-year-old Domonic Brown, who has really come into his own this year. He earned a well-deserved All-Star nod and with 25 HR and 74 RBI, is becoming the power hitter this team desperately needs. He is looking like the centerpiece that this team can and wants to build around.
While Brown was always considered a top prospect, it is a positive sign to see Ruben Amaro finally promoting the young guys coming through the minors, and giving them a chance to prove themselves with the big league club.
A perfect example is the 27-year-old rookie, Darin Ruf.
Ruf isn’t exactly young by most standards. But for the Phillies, he represents an offensive upgrade from what they had coming from the outfield. With regular playing time, Ruf has really started to come into his own too and at 27, if all goes well, he will be entering his prime. The Phillies should expect then, that Ruf’s best days are in front of him.
Continuing to think about the future, the Phillies made Chase Utley their franchise player, agreeing with him on a flawless contract extension that could max out as a five year, $75 million deal.
Again, Utley isn’t young, but every young team needs a veteran and the All-Star second baseman fits that bill perfectly. As Amaro said upon reaching the agreement, “Chase epitomizes everything we expect our Phillies to be.” He is exactly the player you’d want around young guys to take them under his wing, show them the ropes, teach them how to play the game the right way.
Slowly but surely, this team has been getting younger. It is starting to become reminiscent of the mid 2000s when a young Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels made their team debuts. Now, I am not saying that Asche or Ruf, Jonathan Pettibone or Martin, Ben Revere or Brown, are going to lead this team to a World Series like their predecessors but at this point it can’t hurt.
The team of the future is finally starting to take shape and it looks like Philadelphia might just be getting a taste of good times to come after all.