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MacPhail: Phils still on track despite rough start

Club president doesn't give contention timetable, but remains confident in rebuild process
MLB.com @ToddZolecki

NEW YORK -- The Phillies are on pace to lose 107 games, but club president Andy MacPhail said Friday at Citi Field that three disappointing months have not changed his feelings about the organization's rebuild.

He still sees things that he likes.

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NEW YORK -- The Phillies are on pace to lose 107 games, but club president Andy MacPhail said Friday at Citi Field that three disappointing months have not changed his feelings about the organization's rebuild.

He still sees things that he likes.

View Full Game Coverage

"The things that made people bullish about the Phillies going into the year are still as valid today as they were before we threw the first pitch," MacPhail said.

First, MacPhail said the Phillies have nobody other than Odubel Herrera signed beyond this season -- nobody has fewer financial commitments than the Phillies -- which should give them enormous financial muscle in the future. If the Phillies cannot fill holes internally, they should be able to fill them externally. Second, MacPhail cited the overall strength of the farm system, which has the second-best winning percentage in Minor League Baseball. Third, he cited upgrades in the analytics and scouting departments.

"I think as an organization we're doing everything that we had set out to do," MacPhail said.

Well, other than having the worst record in baseball.

"I'm disappointed like everybody else," MacPhail said. "I don't think there's any great surprise that I'm disappointed. I didn't expect us to contend quite honestly. I thought it was a stretch that we'd get to .500. The fact that we've struggled as much as we have is disappointing, particularly when we made some effort to avoid this very thing. We made some effort in terms of our payroll to sacrifice draft position in [2018], to bring some stabilizers in so we wouldn't have to endure, our fans wouldn't have to endure, the kind of start that we got off to. I'm hopeful things will get a little better for us in the second half.

"I will tell you the truth: We're having the year this year that I thought we were going to have last year. I was really prepared for '16 to be dreadful because we had moved everything."

But it is hard for some to see the light at the end of the rebuild tunnel because it is difficult to say with any certainty how many players on the current roster will be on the team in two or three years.

It seems the Phillies have a few more holes than they anticipated.

Could this mean the rebuild payoff is further away than expected?

"We're going to find out by the end of the year," MacPhail said. "We've got a lot of unknowns. Nine guys have made their debuts. We've got a lot of baseball to play.

"The last thing that I have to keep in mind for myself is that what this season has always been about, I mean right from the start, is trying to ascertain the long-term pieces. And even when the news you get isn't as hopeful as you thought it would be, maybe you have more holes to fill than you thought, there's a value in knowing that. The only way you are going to know it is by sending them out there to play. There is no other way to find out who's going to be part of your long-term future and who isn't unless you roll them out there and let them play. It gets frustrating. You want to see new faces. I am subject to the same thing. But you have to stay objective."

Of course, no matter how many times MacPhail says he will not put a timetable on the rebuild, somebody always asks him about the timetable.

So, Andy, when will Phillies fans be watching October baseball again?

"You are so not going to get an answer on that," he said. "But I will say that it does give me a good opportunity -- these rebuilding programs now, it's different from when I started. When I started, you guys would ask, 'Is this going to work? Is the rebuild going to work?' You don't ask that question any more. You ask when it's going to work. Because it's documented. Who's gone through this that hasn't been rewarded in the postseason?"

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

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