RIP Yoggi Berra.
UPDATE: Phillies leaning toward re-signing OF Jeff Francouer, a move I will approve, if true.
Andy MacPhail, slated to be the Phillies' next president, is now actively making moves. A few weeks ago, he fired long-time GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. (I explored his legacy here) and removed the "interim" tag from MacKanin's job title, extending him through 2016 (includes 2017 club option). Extending Pete is the right move. For the first 2-3 weeks after the All-Star Break, the team had, at one point, the best record in baseball in that span. The move allows the team to focus on
the GM search (expected to conclude in one month) & player development.
Speaking of future moves & player development, the latter is the most important mission for the Phillies next year. MacPhail is not planning to make a big splash in Free Agency this year. We already have a future core making progress in the minors, most of those players brought in by Rube. I'd like to congratulate the Reading Fightin' Phils on their ELCS appearance, as well as the Clearwater Threshers & Williamsport Crosscutters on their playoff berths. You have given the Phillies front office and its fans hope. Knock 'em dead throughout our system next year. In fact, some of those players - most notably J.P. Crawford (mid-year) & possibly Biddle and Knapp (in Aug. or Sept.) - will be in the majors next year.
MacPhail has also hinted that Howard will not return this year but will
be with the team in Spring Training, unless a trade works out.
Personally, I'd release him (as well as Jerome Williams, who has been
terrible over the past few weeks). Howard (vs. RHP) & Ruf (vs. LHP) have become a solid platoon at 1B this year, although I've always wanted Ruf to earn the chance to become an everyday player.
I would also like to mention/ predict that next year, especially the first half despite MacKanin as manager, will be pretty ugly as well. Having Maikel Franco & Aaron Nola, getting rid of Aaron Harang & Jerome Williams, and seeing more of our prospects (especially from July onward) will lead to a better record - I'm thinking under 90 losses (not 100). 2017, when the Phillies no longer have any large-AAV, long-term contracts on the books, will probably see about 81 wins (.500 record). This factors in injuries and a 40-50% development success rate. With fewer injuries, less hindrance to prospect development, and a partially-subsequent 70% development rate, I see us in playoff contention in 2017, especially considering a weak NL East Division. The earliest we win a World Series or a Pennant is 2018 (this progression reminds me, a bit, of our rise to World Champs in 2005-2008).