Bryce Harper: “We need some dogs”
The Philadelphia Phillies finished in second place in Major League Baseball’s worst division, the National League East. They ended the season with an extremely average record of 82-80 and extended their playoff drought to now 10 years.
Behind another disappointing season of Phillies baseball, you had an MVP performance from Bryce Harper, who finished the season slashing .309/.429/.615 with 42 doubles, one triple, 35 home runs, 84 RBIs, 101 runs, 100 walks, 13 stolen bases and a 1.044 OPS. If you haven’t heard already, Harper is only the fourth outfielder in baseball history to have at least 100 runs, 100 walks, 40 doubles and 35 home runs in a season. He joins Babe Ruth (1921, 1923), Stan Musial (1949) and Barry Bonds (1998).
The Phillies have a ton of work to do this offseason. Yes, they wasted an MVP year from Bryce Harper but there is absolutely no use sitting around and crying about it. There’s work to be done and starting today, Dave Dombrowski and Sam Fuld are going to have to figure out how to get this team ready for 2022. The Phillies have already hired Preston Mattingly as their new Director of Player Development and have fired hitting coach Joe Dillon and infield coach Juan Castro. Now, they have to figure out how to build a roster without just spending money in free agency.
Full Quote from Bryce Harper:
“You go into every offseason wanting an opportunity to get a top guy, but we can’t just keep going out and buying and buying and buying. We need homegrown talent. When you look at teams that have homegrown talent, those are the teams that have success. I think as a whole, we need our Minor Leagues to be better. We need guys to come up from the Minor Leagues and have success. Not have to go up and down. Have success in our bullpen. Have success in our lineup. We need right-handed bats on our bench. We need a good bench. Guys that can play every single day. We need dogs, man. I’ll tell you what: We need some dogs.”
The Phillies are definitely more than a few players away from being a contending baseball team. They will likely have to find a new left fielder and center fielder before the start of next season. Whether or not that can happen from within the organization is another question that still needs to be answered. In the infield, the Phillies still have Didi Gregorius for another year at shortstop and a question mark at third base. Ideally, Bohm will bounce back and retake third base next season, but it’s hard to be confident at the moment in that decision.
More from Bryce Harper:
“It’ll line up if certain guys step up, right?” Harper said. “I thought [Matt] Vierling did an incredible job coming up. I think that puts him in a place to possibly play next year. Bryson [Stott], possibly sticking him somewhere, wherever that may be, and [Alec Bohm] Bohmer as well, sticking him wherever that may be. If these guys step up and do their job, then I think we’re going to be OK, we’re going to be right where we need to be.
“My wheels are kind of turning. That’s why I’m blabbering a little bit. My wheels turn because I just want to be better. I just love this team, I love this organization, and I just want to be so good for them and the city of Philadelphia. … We all want to end that drought. I think coming into next year we just really need to figure out who we’re going to be, what our identity as a team is going to be. I know Dombo wants to win, and I know that we have the right guy leading us up top to make that happen. I trust in him, I trust him to do his job, and I’m excited to see what’s ahead.”
The Phillies have to find answers in the minor leagues. Stott might not be ready to start the season. Vierling showed flashes to end the 2021 season. Mickey Moniak and Nick Maton still have work to do to be every day contributors, and Adam Haseley, well, we don’t know what happened to Adam Haseley.
As for the rotation, going into next season with Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, Zach Eflin, Kyle Gibson, and Ranger Suarez is actually pretty solid. For the bullpen, Hector Neris needs a new contract. Bailey Falter showed promise. Jose Alvarado was decent at times. But there is still work to be done in the pen, a unit who blew an MLB worst 34 saves this season.
It’s going to be a busy offseason. Bryce Harper is still with us and seems to understand what needs to be done to get the Phillies where they need to be. He has full faith in Dave Dombrowski and Sam Fuld to make it happen. We have no choice but to follow suit.
Here are some quick ideas for 2022, none of which I’m thrilled about.
Matt Vierling LF
Mickey Moniak CF
Alec Bohm 3B
Freddy Galvis SS
Mandatory Credit: The Philadelphia Phillies