To be a fan of the Philadelphia Phillies these days seems to be more a matter of waiting to see who gets on and off the disabled list than checking the lineup.
Earlier this week, setup man Mike Adams got off the list. Starter Cole Hamels is slated to return for an Apr. 22 start. Now the Phillies have to wait and see when A.J. Burnett goes on it. Burnett is pitching today against the Atlanta Braves despite a hernia and, while that might work short-term, that doesn’t sound like a plausible season-long plan.
Get used to it because this is how the rest of the season could go when the ball club is the oldest in baseball, which is the sad reality the Phillies face. In 1950, the Phillies had the “Whiz Kids” because they were the youngest team ever to win the pennant. In 1983, the Phillies were named the “Wheeze Kids” because they were the oldest group ever to win the pennant.
You can call this 2014 version of the team the “Was Kids” because every story on a starter seems to begin with “his best season was.” For many of them, their best season was a long time ago. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins hit 30 homers in 2007. First baseman Ryan Howard hit 58 homers in 2006. That was a long time ago and neither player has come close to duplicating those numbers since.
Only the 35-year-old Chase Utley does not seem to age, but he has a chronic knee condition that could go south at any time.
That the Phillies have more bodies like Rollins and Howard than Utley could mean younger players will be eased into the lineup sooner than later, and that can be only good news for a fanbase more interested in the future than the past.