With the signing of Marlon Byrd and Bobby Abreu — and because they’re counting on Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley to be the motors of the offense once again — the “Phillies are old” jokes have been all over the place this winter. My favorite two so far are (1) the one about how they’re going to rename the stadium to Senior Citizens Bank Park; and (2) the one in which the announcement of Billy Joel playing a concert there this summer actually lowers the team’s average age.
Yuks are yuks, of course, but it’s not like an old team can’t win. The 1983 Phillies — nicknamed the “Wheeze Kids” — won the pennant. The 1993 pennant-winning Phillies were no spring chickens either. And like the man said, age is just a state of mind. Just ask new Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, who tells CSNPhilly.com that he uses a different measure of age than the year on someone’s birth certificate:
“All of us do. You keep hearing old, old, old … we’re not an old team,” Byrd said. “We can still play. Once you can’t play, then you’re old. We still have a lot in the tank, we just to have to show that and stay healthy.”
It’s all the stuff of offseason optimism. History shows that, occasionally, an old team can stay healthy and produce. If the Phillies do that then, sure, they could be an interesting team. It’s just not the most likely outcome.
Tim Tebow isn’t letting go of his major league dreams just yet. The former NFL quarterback is slated to appear with the Mets during spring training this year, extending what initially looked like an ill-fated career choice for at least one more season. Per the club’s official announcement on Friday, he’ll join a group of spring training invitees that includes top-30 prospects like Peter Alonso, P.J. Conlon, Patrick Mazeika and David Thompson.
Tebow, 30, hasn’t taken to professional baseball as gracefully as expected. He batted a cumulative .226/.309/.347 with eight home runs and a .656 OPS in 486 plate appearances for Single-A Columbia and High-A St. Lucie in 2017. While that wasn’t enough to compel the Mets to give the aging outfielder a big league tryout, there’s no denying that Tebow brought substantial benefit to their minor league affiliates — in the form of increased attendance figures and ticket sales, that is.
Even after the Mets were booted from the NL East race last September, they resisted the idea of promoting Tebow for a late-season attendance boost of their own. That’s not to say they’re planning on taking the same approach in 2018; Tebow will undoubtedly get his cup of coffee in the majors at some point, but for now, a Grapefruit League tryout is likely as close as he’ll ever get to playing with the team’s big league roster on an everyday basis.