Dave Dombrowski reflects on Phillies’ disappointing 2021 season
Dave Dombrowski had a lot to say yesterday in his end-of-the-season press conference. The Phillies capped off another disappointing season a few short days ago, missing out on the playoffs for the 10th straight season. A season of what if’s, disappointments, and everything in between, and we’ve officially hit the crucial offseason. There is a lot of work to be done, and Dave Dombrowski is at the head of the table. Here are all of the key things that Dombrowski highlighted on Wednesday.
Getting Over the Hump
The Phillies still can’t get over that hump to finally get back into the playoffs. Dave Dombrowski said today that “they aren’t where they want to be, and we have a lot of room for improvement”. The Phillies finished the season with an 82-80 record, just two games over .500. “We need to find ways to win. Our goal is to win.”
Dombrowski also said the team will explore upgrading the roster in free agency, trades, and the minor leagues. All options are on the table, and they will do whatever this team needs to do to get better and get back into October baseball.
What Needs to be Done?
A shortstop, a true leadoff hitter, and more bullpen arms. There are many names out there regarding the shortstop position, including Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, and more. Whether the Phillies will be willing to take on big money or throw big money at these guys, I do not know. They have had the tendency in the past to be careful with money, never going over the luxury tax.
The true leadoff hitter is going to be a much-needed search. Dave Dombrowski avoided conversation regarding Odubel Herrera and Andrew McCutchen, due to their contracts being up after the season. Odubel was good (.260/.310/.416) this season, but is not your desired leadoff hitter, especially if you want a consistent bat that gets on base at a high rate.
The bullpen. The Phillies bullpen has been a wild ride for years, and they are coming off a bad 2021 season. Dave Dombrowski praised Hector Neris, Connor Brogdon, and Sam Coonrod specifically today in his presser, giving high praise for their successful 2021 seasons. Neris specifically, was fantastic after he was removed from the closer role. In my opinion, Neris needs to be signed back for the 2022 season, no questions asked. After being thrown into the late innings role and showing his dominance, Hector looks like a valuable piece that wouldn’t cost a ton for the years to come.
The Starting Rotation
The Phillies starting rotation was a whirlwind of emotions throughout the past season. They have Zack Wheeler, a guy who dominated night after night, solidifying himself in a most likely finalist position for NL Cy Young. Ranger Suarez, who was removed from his bullpen role, thrown back into the starting rotation where he belongs and had one of the best seasons by a Phillies pitcher ever.
And then the Phillies have Aaron Nola. Aaron Nola had one of the most up and down seasons from a Phillies player I have ever seen. One night, he was untouchable and looked like 2018 Nola. And his next start, it looked like it was taking every bone in his body just to get an out. Dave Dombrowski mentioned today that Nola “didn’t have a great year based on Nola standards”, and fell back on the struggle of “bad pitches at bad times”, something we saw from Nola all year.
Unless something blockbuster goes down this offseason, Aaron Nola is going to be back with the team next year. The Phillies have a big task at hand, and that task is to get Nola back to his old self, looking confident and dominant on the mound every single night.
How Much Does Age Matter in Baseball?
A question was asked today regarding the average age of the Phillies, and if the “high age of this team” (even though we are 24th ranked in the MLB), could have an effect on them. Here’s what Dombrowski had to say.
“Do you know who the oldest averaged team in the league is? The San Francisco Giants.” – Dave Dombrowski
The Giants, who have had one of the most successful regular seasons in their team’s history, are actually the second oldest team in the league, but only trail by just 0.1 years. Dave Dombrowski harps on age, and how it can hurt teams, but it can also help teams.
He brings up how although we don’t really know how many more years the Harper/Realmuto/Hoskins trio will be able to give you, that they are still dominant right now, and that’s all that really matters. He says he needs to do the best he can to get a good team around their core, to be able to take a little weight off of their stars’ shoulders.
Dave Dombrowski also talked about how devastating it was to lose Rhys Hoskins, one of the team’s most consistent hitters this season. Hoskins was on pace for a fantastic season, before going down with an abdominal injury in late August that required surgery.
Key Young Players
Although the Phillies roster is loaded with veterans, there is still a good amount of younger players still trying to find their role on this team. The biggest question mark going into next season is without a doubt, Alec Bohm.
Bohm had a major down year this year, looking like he took 10 steps back from where he was in 2020. Alec was a liability at third base, making errors at a sufficient rate. Dave Dombrowski confirmed that their plan with Bohm is to continue playing him at third base next year, even after a below-average season at the hot corner. Bohm has a lot of work this offseason to do if he wants to earn that spot, but the Phillies have all the confidence in the world that he is their third baseman of the future.
There’s a lot to take in here. Dave Dombrowski has experience in this league and is no stranger to crucial offseasons. The Phillies have been stuck at a halt for 10 years now, and something needs to change to get them over the hump. The most important offseason that I can remember is officially upon us, and the Phillies have a lot of work to do if they want to compete for a championship in 2022.
Mandatory Credit: USA Today Sports