Faust Ruggiero, Director, Phillies Fan Central It has been two years since the Phillies seriously admitted to, and began the current organizational rebuilding program. When the rebuild started, the Phillies had one of the worst player development programs in all of baseball. Former general manager Ruben Amaro, lead an organization that was inpatient, stubborn, and often blindly arrogant. In an attempt to keep an aging core at the top of the baseball world, he traded away future prospects, with the result being a drastic drop at the major-league level, and a player development system that was all-but decimated. With Amaro gone, and Matt Klentak at the helm, things have been a bit different. Phillies president Andy MacPhail has assembled a baseball team that is intelligent, insightful, and, finally, has a plan to rebuild the organization. Analytics are part of the picture, and aging Phillies stars have been traded, helping to move the player development system into a position to be one of baseball's best. This, however, is where everything can get a bit confusing. The Phillies are knee-deep in budding stars, and are no longer the pushover they were a few seasons back when they lost 99 games. Though not exactly playoff contenders yet, the Phillies are almost there. This is when the inpatient souls begin to scream for those monster trades and Amaro-like quick-fixes, that previously failed, and quickly brought the organization to its baseball knees. If it was important to make a commitment to be patient and follow the plan two years ago, it's even more important now. This is where inpatient baseball executives begin to make mistakes. This is where they start listening to the press, over-anxious fans, and so many other sources for poor advice. The bottom line here, is that the Phillies are still a few years away from an in-depth playoff run. The Phillies pitching staff is improved, but certainly not strong enough to carry it into the playoffs. The talent is there, but has not, as a group, developed into a stable starting rotation. The bullpen was a problem in 2016, and certainly isn't showing enough stability so far this season. The Phillies signed a handful of aging veterans to one year contracts, and this provides Matt Klentak with options. One of those options, Clay Buchholz is already gone for the season, but that doesn't mean a few contracts won't move around the trad deadline. These moves are what we call setups that can provide additional player development, something that will help the Phillies in the future. Smart general managers routinely make these types of moves. Players like J.P. Crawford, Jorge Alfaro, Nick Williams, Dylan Cozens, Rhys Hoskins, Jesmuel Valentin, and Roman Quinn are almost major league ready, and a few pictures, notably, Ben lively, Jake Thompson, Nick Pivetta, and Zach Eflin are right on the cusp. The AA roster isn't too shabby either. These are the type of players that the Phillies can begin to groom to be stable pieces of the upcoming picture, or, as we see in the past, they can be shuffled to other teams for aging, established stars. Let's keep in mind that young players remain under the control the organization for several years, and that aging stars command big contracts, and often don't pan out. The goal here isn't to win right away. The objective is to have a program that consistently supplies young talent to the big club, and occasionally sees trades using prospects from the lower levels to fill gaps, and strengthen the organization at the major-league level. That's what all the perennial winners do. 2018's free-agent class will be among baseball's best. By that time, any of those bigger contracts the Phillies took on during the winter will be gone, and he combined low player payroll, and the huge television contract with Comcast will put the Phillies in a position to buy what they need to set them up for next season. With this in mind, there are no trades that are absolutely necessary now. This is the year that the Phillies, both at the major league and minor league affiliate level, continue to assess talent, and to give those budding major leaguers a chance to show what they have. The most important thing the Phillies can do this season, is to know exactly where they stand with their prospects, and what holes need to be filled through free agency. Again, that means patience for at least one more year. The last few drafts have been good ones, and the Phillies are strong at every level of the player development system. That, however, does not mean the Phillies use that talent to trade for people who can get the major-league club there right away. There's no reason to trade anyone from the player development system now, and there's every reason to continue to assess talent, tweak where necessary, and become an organization that consistently wins through the contributions of its own player development program. Big trades and big free-agent signings should be few and far between. So, once again, it's not win right away, and plan for the parade down Broad Street. The order of the day says be patient, develop a program that consistently provides the talent necessary to win, and make intelligent decisions that do not put the organization at risk, and always provide it with options. Two-thousand-eighteen should see the club competing for a playoff spot. Beyond that, if the Phillies stick to a patient, well-conceived plan, one that allows the organization to be self-sufficient, and always productive from within, those Broad Street marches may come around just a little more often

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