We are back once again with the last regular season 97.3 ESPN Phillies mailbag. Send your questions to the 97.3 ESPN text board at 609-403-0973 or send them to @FrankKlose on Twitter. Each week on Tuesday afternoon we answer your questions on the air during the Sports Bash with Mike Gill.

This season has been worse than the prev season. We were supposed to learn who the players were that are a part of our future. I don't think we accomplished that. If the team does not improve drastically via trades and free agents this off-season I think the fan base will be angry. Agree?
~Greg

Greg, you are not wrong in that the Phillies were indeed supposed to figure out who some of their core pieces were for the future.  I think in a way they got a lot of answers.  However, more often than not they seemed to learn that some pieces are not as high as their ceilings might have thought to have been.

Here are some of the things the Phillies learned:

  • Odubel Herrera is very inconsistent
  • They cannot possibly let Vince Velasquez, Nick Pivetta and Zach Eflin all be in the starting rotation at once
  • Seranthony Dominguez has talent in the bullpen
  • Roman Quinn has a lot of talent, but once again seems to find injury
  • Rhys Hoskins grades worse in left field than previously thought
  • The team needs a veteran catcher presence
  • Aaron Nola is really, really good

Overall, the Phillies learned that they do not have an impact-type player from among the many talented young players.  I think that the Phillies know this, and they will be looking to add such players.

The offseason will be a crucial one for the Phillies front office.  I think one good thing to take from this season is that the Phillies did get to see more of their true colors down the stretch.  Had the Phillies moved forward thinking they were covered and had a collapse like this after this offseason, they might have missed out on talent that they may ultimately acquire.

What are the chances they name Rob Thomson manager in the off season?
~Chris

Honestly, I think there is a better chance of seeing Pete Thompson named manager in the offseason.

But seriously, there were many questions/people screaming "fire Kapler" in this week's call for mailbag questions.  But I really do not think Kapler has done anything to merit being fired.  The only way that you can blame the manager for this season is if you think that the club had all the necessary pieces in place and they were underachieving along the way.

As the last question noted, the Phillies approached 2018 in "let's find out" mode.  Especially early before the Phillies hit their groove, many managerial decisions were along those lines.  And, we learned that many of the young players who were in that "let's find out mode" probably played themselves out of the team's plans.  Had Kapler not played them, he would have abandoned the plan.

I think that Phillies fans still tend to have a negative impression of Kapler from the first week, one in which he did not have a good week.  And it's fair to say he made some rookie mistakes along the way.

More than ever, the manager's role is managing the personalities on the club, and Kapler brings a positive presence.  Rob Thomson is regarded as one of the game's best bench coaches.  He probably deserves a chance to manage someday.  But I do not think that it will in Philadelphia next season.

I simply cannot envision a scenario in which Kapler does not return.

Who are keepers, Aaron Nola & Rhys Hoskins? Everyone else, expendable? Wilson Ramos, sign him, Yes or No? J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery SS/2B next year?
~"VMan"

A recent report from Jon Heyman of Fancred Sports noted that the Phillies are indeed willing to trade just about anyone other than Aaron Nola and Rhys Hoskins.   Realistically, they are the two lone building blocks the Phillies have going forward that seem to have secured themselves in Philadelphia.  Many question marks remain.

In terms of Wilson Ramos, I would love to see him in tandem with Jorge Alfaro for the next couple of years.  If the Phillies can get Ramos on a two-year deal, I would be all for it.  I think Ramos still has some lingering injury concerns and I do think Alfaro has a lot of talent.

Therefore, I think the veteran mentor Ramos would be great in bringing Alfaro along.  I would not really suggest going for more than two years, however.  If another team offers Ramos more years, he might be inclined to take that deal.

As for the middle infield, I think that will be dictated by what other moves the Phillies make.  I think the Phillies feel that Scott Kingery is a realistic option at shortstop right now.  But, signing Manny Machado could mean that he ends up back at second base.  What happens with Cesar Hernandez and J.P. Crawford? That remains unseen.

Kingery could always return to "super sub" status on the Phillies, no matter what happens.

What happens could depend upon offseason opportunity.  They have many players who are major league players.  Should another team match up on a trade, they may move any of the aforementioned players, particularly if they were to add someone such as Machado.  That could affect the future of Maikel Franco, too.

But who will other teams like?  We shall see.  The Phillies will not have to get rid of anyone for the sake of getting rid of someone.

Better option at third base in 2019: Franco, Santana, or Gritty?
~Matt

We all saw Gritty fall on his behind last night, so I do not think that he is the best option at third base. I'm more inclined to give the job to the red Phanatic.