Hey, the Phillies Are Going to Be Fun Again This Year

Everybody says they'll be bad. And they probably will! But it's opening day, and we can all dream.

Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera.

Philadelphia Phillies center fielder Odubel Herrera.

You should be excited about the Phillies this season.

The Phils open their season today at 4:10 in Cincinnati against the Reds. They are not expected to be good. One projection system says they will lose 90-plus games again.

But, things will be better. It’s not just that the Phillies probably won’t lose 99 games again. The team seems to be on the upswing. Most of the players are new; the only holdovers from the World Series team are Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard. The only holdover from last year’s opening day pitching staff is Jeanmar Gomez, a reliever who pitched in 65 games for the Phils in 2015.

It’s going to be a weird season. Today’s Opening Day starter is Jeremy Hellickson, the 2011 Rookie of the Year with Tampa Bay who has struggled the last three seasons. The Phillies acquired him, per multiple reports, in the hopes he’d bounce back so they could trade him for prospects in July. It’s Opening Day, and the Phillies are already showcasing for scouts.

But that’s kind of fun, isn’t it? There are no expectations. The team is relatively young, and hit the ball well in Spring Training. What if they start off hot, and for a little bit of April you can pretend they’re contenders this season?

2016 will be a Phillies season with new faces. Today’s starting lineup looks very little like last year’s.

2BCesar Hernandez
CFOdubel Herrera
3BMaikel Franco
1BRyan Howard
CCarlos Ruiz
LFCedric Hunter
RFPeter Bourjos
PJeremy Hellickson

And this is just opening day. Catcher Cameron Rupp and first baseman Darren Ruf are expected to play a lot this year, too, which means no one on the field for much of the year will have much connection to the Phillies great run between 2007 and 2011. You’ll get to learn about a whole new set of Phillies this season.

Cedric Hunter, a former top prospect, had a great spring with the Phillies and worked his way into the starting lineup. Peter Bourjos, formerly of Anaheim and St. Louis, is the pesky hustler Phillies fans are going to like. The team has two Rule 5 draft picks who can only be kept if they remain on the roster the whole season (so they might): Fourth outfielder Tyler Goeddel and pitcher Daniel Stumpf. Yes, the Phillies have a guy on their roster who sounds like a John Oliver bit.

Maybe by the end of the year you’ll know how to spell the name of Cuban League veteran Dalier Hinojosa by heart. Maybe Howard will come back for one big offensive season. Maybe Maikel Franco will continue to look like the next Phillie superstar at third base. Maybe Pete Mackanin will look like a genius. Maybe the Phillies will surprise everyone. Maybe we’ll get one of those things, and we’ll be happy with that.

Today is opening day. It’s a day to be positive. The Phillies are undefeated, and we can all dream.

Follow @dhm on Twitter.