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Long Road Ahead for Rebuilding Phillies

While 2016 presents a clean slate for the majority of teams across Major League Baseball, fans of some of the league’s bottom feeders will not exactly be jumping for joy come Opening Day. You can include the Philadelphia Phillies faithful in that department.

If you’re looking for on-field optimism, you’ve come to the wrong place. Philly is coming off a 63-99 season – a seemingly inconceivable feat considering this team was celebrating an NL East title just a few years ago. Philadelphia is in a total rebuild, which means they will very likely be downright unwatchable this season.

The Phillies overhauled their front office in the offseason, ushering in a new era in the City of Brotherly Love. Gone are former stalwarts Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels. Ryan Howard and his bloated $25 million contract remain, but that disaster will mercifully come off the books at the end of the year. Howard hit just .229 in 2015 and possesses what’s arguably the worst contract in the bigs.

Oddsmakers are unsurprisingly expecting another down year. Bovada has the Phillies’ World Series odds at +15000 (tied with the Braves and Rockies for the longest odds in the league), with an NL pennant price of +6600. The Phillies’ odds of capturing the NL East are currently sitting at +5000.

Besides the front office changes the Phillies weren’t very active in free agency, which makes sense considering wins are not an important measure for the ball club. Philadelphia is clearly playing the long game, and the focus needs to be on grooming its young core to compete long term.

Fans will have a lot of fun watching the likes of Maikel Franco and Aaron Nola, however. Franco hit for both average and power in his rookie year (.280, 14 home runs in 80 games) while the sky is the limit on Nola’s potential as a starter. The farm system is stacked as a result of past trades, and the prospects acquired in last year’s Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon deals help bolster what’s already a strong point.

Bovada has tabbed Philadelphia with a season win total of 65.5, an interesting number for futures bettors. After capturing the division title in 2011, the Phillies have produced win totals of 81, 73, 73 and 63. That downward trend is a sign of the dire state of the franchise, and it’s not inconceivable if they lose over 100 games in 2016. The UNDER may be the right play here.

It may sound silly, but it would be a big accomplishment if Philadelphia can leapfrog its fellow floundering division rival Atlanta for the fourth spot in the division. Small victories can go a long way in instilling confidence in young players.

There hasn’t been much to cheer about in Philadelphia sports over the years, and Phillies fans may need to take a page out of the 76ers’ book and “trust the process” with the new regime in place. The Phillies are finally moving in the right direction by building towards the future, but they won’t get there fast.

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2016 Philadelphia Phillies Futures Odds
MarketOdds
World Series+15000
National League Pennant+6600
National League East+5000
Win Totals65.5

Odds as of April 1 at Bovada

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