You can’t say Charlie Manuel isn’t being optimistic. The former manager and forever aw-shucks Uncle of our dreams, spoke to MLB Trade Rumors about the young talent the Phillies have. You’ll be hard pressed to find a Phillies fan who thinks this team is a World Series contender at any point in the next three years, but that’s exactly the comparison Cholly made:
“When I was with the Twins in 1986 and ’87 we had some young players. We had [Kent] Hrbek, [Gary] Gaetti, [Kirby] Puckett, and all these young guys that turned out to be real good players. This group of guys is something similar to them. When you look at this group, we’ve got a lot of talent. These players have a lot of tools. We can go first to third, we can go second to home, but we still have to develop ourselves as hitters to be able to be regular players at the Major League level. And, when it comes to young pitchers, we got so many that some of them have to be good.”
In 1986, the Twins won 71 games. In ’87, they won 85. Neither of those numbers seems incredibly out of reach for the Phils, but that ’87 team did something else. They won the World Series. Then, using that core of players, they averaged 81 wins over the next three seasons before winning the World Series again in 1991.
In ’86, the Twins had an average player age of 26.8, and 27.7 (keeping most of the same players) in ’87. By my math, the Phillies current 40-man roster has an average age of 26.2, so he’s right there in that age range. But is there a Kirby Puckett, Gary Gaetti, or Kent Hrbek on this team? We don’t know (there isn’t a Kirby Puckett).
On a more realistic comparison, Cholly went on to say that in a few years, he sees the Phils “where the Astros are … they backed up and made a lot of good draft choices and look at how good they are now. That’s what we’re hoping to do.” And he can still say “we,” not only because he’s Cholly and he’ll always be a part of us, but because he’s going to be involved in the amateur draft, in-house evaluations, and free agent scouting with the Phils. They might not have their Kirby Puckett, but Cholly can help us find him.