Rebuild. This is a word that Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. does not like to use, let alone to embrace it as a legitimate team-building tactic.
Year after year while trying to contend within the supposed window of opportunity – a window that appears to be closed at the moment – has produced the departures of top prospects like Jarred Cosart, John Singleton, Anthony Gose, Trevor May, Kyle Drabek, Carlos Carrasco among others in order to bolster the lineup with established players.
Such movements have stunted the next wave of Phillies prospects from taking the stage and moving the organization into the next phase.
Last season, however, saw the emergence of a handful of prospects as the big club floundered in mediocrity. Cody Asche took over at third base for the traded Michael Young, Jonathan Pettibone assumed a spot in the rotation due to the injury of Roy Halladay, Darin Ruf had daily playing time while Ryan Howard sat out and the bullpen was stuffed with young prospects who received a chance to show what they had.
The next wave seems poised to break through this season. It was reported yesterday that the Phillies are going to try top prospect Maikel Franco at first base. This decision is not insignificant. Just one offseason ago, the team shifted Ruf to the outfield in order to afford him playing time. The idea was that, obviously, Howard was still the future at first base.
This offseason, however, the prospect of shifting Franco to first contradicts that notion. Could Amaro finally be conceding that it is time to think beyond the ’08 core?
Phillies fans should embrace the idea of Franco at first, Asche at third, top pitching prospect Jesse Biddle paired with Cole Hamels, Domonic Brown and Ben Revere in the outfield, Jake Diekman, B.J. Rosenberg and Michael Stutes in the bullpen, Freddy Galvis in the infield and Ruf wherever they can find room for him.
It is high time to look beyond the team that won in 2008 and look to the next generation. It appears as though Amaro is finally doing the same.