Do you like an origin story? This post was originally going to be about the nature of spring-training optimism. Among players, even, not just fans. It seems like, every single February, when players show up to camp, you get quotes from everywhere about how a given team has a great bunch of guys, and if they play the kind of baseball they’re capable of, there’s no reason the season can’t be magic. I started looking for such quotes for every single team. The way I figured, they had to be out there. And as a matter of fact, I even found one for the Phillies. The same Phillies whose own front office has finally admitted that the team is rebuilding, and contention seems years off.
In case you’ve somehow been in the dark, this year’s Phillies are supposed to be bad. I mean, they aren’t supposed to be bad, but they’re expected to be bad, relative to every single other team. FanGraphs has the Phillies projected for the worst record in baseball. So does Baseball Prospectus. I’m not telling you anything new. Probably going to be a rough year in Philadelphia. But, you know who has opinions? Jonathan Papelbon. Here, he talks to Jim Salisbury about the possibility of being traded.
Toward the bottom of the post:
Papelbon said the Blue Jays would “fit his criteria” because they project as a contending club, but he was quick to add that he believes the Phillies can still be a contender, despite management’s charting a rebuilding course.
“If we come out and play the baseball we’re capable of playing then I plan on being right here and righting the ship here,” he said. […] “My storybook ending here is sneaking into the wild card and getting hot in the playoffs with these Phillies.”
It’s not exactly “we’re getting those rings,” but Papelbon has a certain level of confidence, a level that isn’t shared by Cole Hamels or the people in charge. Papelbon doesn’t see this as an impossible mission. And, wouldn’t you know it — it’s not an impossible mission. Let’s talk about how teams do, relative to how they’re projected to do.
Read the rest on Just A Bit Outside.