The Problem With the Phils – Yes Doc It’s Serious

Posted: 06/01/2014 in Uncategorized


I will preface this post by saying regardless of what is written or expressed here, I will always be a Phillies fan because as much as the annoy me, I can never imagine a day when I wouldn’t cheer or watch them. I love them, but they don’t love me back and that’s where our issues begin.

I’ve buried GM Ruben Amaro repeatedly here. You know how I feel, but its not just him. It’s the way the Phils have been run as an organization that has gotten us here.  Rube’s horrific transactional record (to name a few highlights below) hasn’t helped.

  • 2009: Trading Cliff Lee in exchange for what amounts to some eye black and big league chew
  • 2011: Trading 4 top prospects for Hunter Pence in 2011
  • 2011: Releasing Ryan Voglesong and Jason Grilli
  • 2011: Outbidding yourself to sign Jonathan Papelbon to a record deal as a closer
  • 2012: Trading Shane Victorino at the MLB deadline 2012; Not resigning Shane Victorino at the end of 2012
  • 2012: Getting the equivalent of sweat socks and a koozie in return for Pence and Victorino trade deadline deals
  • 2013: Trading for Ben Revere so that he can be your center fielder
  • Keeping John Mayberry and Michael Martinez on this roster for no logical reasons

This doesn’t include the albatross of the contract given to Ryan Howard, which at least was understandable given Howard’s production at the time. But it’s not just bad deals – its an overall suck in the way they do things. Let’s look at the draft.

Can you name the last first round Phillies draft pick to do anything with the team? How about Cole Hamels selected 12 YEARS AGO in 2002. Think about what you’ve been able to accomplish in the last 12 years and compare that to the Phils first round draft success. Granted the Phillies were winning, signing free agents, forfeiting some of their first round picks and apparently missing on many others. Can you imagine missing on something so important as the draft, which is the most basic rule of any sport in building a franchise…select players to contribute in the first round – PAGE ONE of  the “how to build a sports team” handbook. The two best players we selected in those are Travis D’Arnaud (now hitting .196 for the Mets) and JP Crawford who we selected last year.

Our farm system is bereft of talent. It’s a joke, which is not a shock since we can’t seem to draft well. Further proof we can’t draft well in the first round or beyond??? How do we have no suitable outfield solutions for our Major League Club? Ben Revere (pictured above) on his best day is a 3rd OF, but we play him in center where he makes jaw-dropping catches, and routinely takes paths to the ball that are eerily similar to my 1 1/2 year old daughter chasing our dog around the house. His arm reminds me of mine – when I was 11. John Mayberry should be using his Stanford degree to make the world a better place, not make my world miserable as our 4th OF. Dom Brown our “stud,” 5 tool prospect for the last 5 years has had 3-4 good months of MLB ball in 5 years, and is struggling to hit over 200.  Our best OF? 36 year old, formerly out of baseball, former steroid user, one-time Phillies prospect who has played on 5 teams in 2 years, Marlon Byrd. Every minor league team in the Phillies system has at least 5 full-time outfielders and you are telling me that we cannot do better that pile of steaming hot monkey crap that you see patrolling the outfield at Citizens Bank?

But there’s more. Did you know that the Phillies have a draft philosophy of taking players with the most PO-tential. Potential. Not the most talent, but potential. That is the equivalent of stacking your line-up with 8 Ryan Howard’s and wondering why you don’t lead the league in hitting. The Phils philosophy in drafting is that same stupid adage that passed them by 5 years ago – swing for the fences. Here’s a thought, your farm system is a joke. Draft some guys that have talent. Stop tying your expectations to 17 & 18-year old kids who may one day become the next President and take the college kids, who have more experience and are closer to contributing. Wow – what a novel freaking idea! You want to mix in a high school kid here and there? Cool – I like acne, skateboards and socks pulled up. Go for it, but don’t build your draft around these kids and then scratch your head as to why your team hasn’t produced any homegrown talent over the last 12 years. And if you point to Kyle Kendrick you should be fired before completing your sentence.

The Phils minor league philosophy is to not rush kids through their system and let them fail in the minors before they get to the majors. This is a well-known, documented approach, which has led scouts to leave the organization. Ken Giles throws 100 MPH, but the Phils want him to fail in the minors before bringing him up to the show. Jesse Biddle is our best pitching prospect, but he hasn’t failed enough. I’m not the smartest man in the world, but that would be akin to not allowing my daughter to go outside for fear that she may get rained on, and since I’m not sure how she will react, Summa J and I will make her stay inside until we can dump buckets of water on her head to make sure she won’t just cry. Are you out of your minds? Many kids dream about making it to the major leagues. Of those kids, a handful make it to the minors. Of those kids, a couple get a taste of the majors. Are you telling me that kids who have worked so hard to get to the majors and fail, won’t be that much more motivated to get back after having a taste of their dream? Instead, as an organization, you philosophically believe in holding kids back to see how they bounce back from failure? Ironic that many of your prospects are failing and stalling.

So while our old core of players has been remarkably healthy through the first 2 months of the season and producing, it’s going to get ugly as long as this front office and philosophy is in place. Because there are no reinforcements on the way, these long tenured aging Philly favorites with multi-year contracts are the best we got. Look at the bright side, game day tickets will be like Crazy Eddie’s falling prices — innnnsane.

Looking for a glimmer of hope? Here’s the best I can do for you.

  • The Phils have a huge TV contract with Comcast that kicks-in in 2016, which should yield a windfall of cash. However, with average Citizens Bank Park attendance hovering around 30,000 a game there’s a shortage at the gate.
  • Going to the Citizens Bank from a fan perspective, is a great experience too. The ballpark is beautiful, the product currently being showcased there….well, the fanatic is entertaining.
  • The Phillies also have the no. 7 pick in this year’s MLB draft, but given the current regime’s track record we might be better off with my aforementioned daughter making the pick.
  • We also have some assets contending teams could want (Rollins, Utley, Chooch, Byrd, Lee, Papelbon) but any of those deals would be salary dumps – where I assure you the Phils would still need to cover a portion of these players existing salaries. Maybe we get a middling prospect included, but based on previous history, again, our track record ain’t so good with targeting and nurturing talent.  Utley is the one guy I wouldn’t trade unless you get something substantial.

Will Ruben have the stones to trade these guys knowing that he’s already on the hot seat and attendance numbers are headed down? Or will he continue to add duct tape to the Hoover Damn? Will the Phils management do anything to free Rubes of his duties and gut the Phillies system? Don’t hold your breath.

We will always have 2008 and the stretch of 7-8 years when baseball was everything in Philly. Hope you enjoyed the ride and savored the memories, because if you thought the Sixers rebuilding job is taking a while, ya better find a comfy chair, sit back and find something for the pain. The Phils aren’t in need of a little touch-up or some remodeling — it’s time to get the wrecking ball out.

  1. rossJ says:

    Curry – love the feedback. Yeah, I actually like Nola a lot too, and I’d love to have him at 7. His delivery is a little funky, he’s a horse and a proven winner. Newcomb is bigger and is another college arm. I’m not saying that you always go college over high school, but I’m over the Collier, Hewitt, Gueller and Greene’s of the world. The Phillies seem to go out of their way to not select college players and I think that’s one of their many brutal philosophies. I see guys like Verlander, , David Price, Strasburg (I know, I know), Wacha, Chris Sale, Scherzer – some of the best pitchers in the game went to College. I know these guys get worked over, but I’d prefer a guy who has pitched and succeeded at the college level, again, trusting my team doctors to evaluate how their arms will hold up. he other thing, is when we talk about immediate need, I think best case scenario is a kid like Nola would be fast-tracked to Philly by Sept. 2015 – which we all know won’t happen. Our system is a joke. Regarding a trade, you are absolutely right that we have a lot of guys who would need to wave their no trades in order to get a chance at another championship. Maybe that would be tempting enough.

  2. Curry says:

    Good post (or bad, I guess given the fact that we’re Phillies fans). Agree with most of what you wrote, although I do prefer to target high school players with star potential in the draft, especially in the first few rounds. College pitchers (like Joe Savery at Rice) tend to be abused, and I think good farm systems can do a better job of developing elite talent in the minors. Problem is the Phils’ player development, as you described with the rain scenario, is an atrocity. I think last year’s draft will go down as one of the best in the last 20 years for the Phillies, but we won’t see the impact for probably five years. I’ve heard they are targeting Aaron Nole, a college pitcher, in the draft to address immediate needs. Unfortunately, I think that is the worst approach to draft for immediate need instead of best talent. I do like Nola, though, so we’ll see. Gonna be a long climb back to the playoffs, though, that’s for sure. Several of the players we should consider trading have 10&5 no-trade rights, so they would have to approve a deal, or are paid so much that the Phils would need to absorb a ton of money.

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