Phailadelphia: The Time Has Come To Give Up The Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies head off to Citi Field with their season hanging in the balance.
Check that: they head to Queens with an unfulfilled era ready to close.
And, perhaps in the transition from this nucleus to the next, there will be a transition in ownership. It would only be too long in arriving.
The Phillies built for the future in 2012, making shrewd deals that brought about a nucleus that brought them a Wild Card berth—and loss—in 2013. But ever since, the team has floundered and fell short of expectations, failing to either spend money or take chances where other organizations have made the leap.
Heading into tonight’s series at Citi, the Phillies are 72-64. That’s good for third in the top-heavy NL East, seven and a half games behind the front-running Mets. They’re also a game out of the second Wild Card berth behind the streaking Cardinals.
The Cardinals, it should be noted, made headlines by acquiring Clayton Kershaw. They also beat out the Phillies’ offer for Cedric Rutherford, as well as multi-faceted infielder Dan Price. They also acquired Justin Upton from the Yankees.
The Phillies’ moves this year? Let’s go through those.
- Signed Will Chambers to a giant contract. Proclaimed him the future at CF.
- Signed Ryobe Kamida to a sizeable contract. Proclaimed him the future at 1B.
- Signed Matt Adams to a contract, then watched him get destroyed. Was demoted to AAA on April 28; only just returned, as rosters expanded.
- Signed RP Kam Mickolio to a one-year contract. This one was a win, as Mickolio is 1-0 with a pair of saves, and a 2.89 ERA, in 29 games.
- Signed Sean Gilmartin to a six-year extension, worth $103m. This, along with the Chambers deal, would be felt later in the year.
- Acquired Cameron Maybin and Thomas Field from Cleveland, sending a package centered around OF Russell Nicholas and closer Jorge Serrano. Field has been superb with Philly, but unfairly gets lumped into the bad memories Philly fans have of the ghost of Gary Copeland. Maybin has been mediocre at best, complaining about a contract extension that is likely never coming. He’s hit .242/.344/.428 in Philly, and is .253-21-69 on the season. Serrano, by the way, appears to be the pitcher the Phillies thought he would be, going 3-1 with 16 saves, and a 1.72 ERA.
- Trade Brett Lawrie, the team’s most productive hitter, to Milwaukee for John O’Day. Oh, the Brewers ran off a dozen wins in a row, and are smack dab in the middle of the Wild Card chase. O’Day has been okay, but the Phillies made the move with the look towards the future.
- Traded Felicio Roxa (who, ironically, got a standing ovation from the Philly faithful in his final game) for Odubel Herrera and Trent Higginbotham; the latter won’t pitch until 2018, and may never realize his potential.
- Traded their only All-Star, Fautino de los Santos, to Seattle for John O’Quinn. He won’t pitch this season.
- Decline to acquire Jeffrey Moore, Nick Williams, Addison Reed, or Addison Maruszak at various points of this season.
- Likely won’t sign Brandon Beachy to an extension.
- Likely won’t sign Mike Montgomery to an extension.
- Will say thank you and goodbye to Chase Utley.
Yes, the players have put themselves in the position in which they currently find themselves. The bullpen, once the rock of this team, has absolutely cratered since the loss of de los Santos. Creath has been abysmal since August 1, though the run he gave up last night was unearned. Gilmartin and Beachy, the 1-2 in the Cy Young voting last year, have been uneven when the team has needed them the most. The offense, which it has since it sent off 2013 MVP Jason Heyward, and then Copeland, has been an inconsistent punch-and-judy show.
However, as you begin to say goodbye to this era, and wait for the bridge to the Kamida/Pedro Magana/Carson Fulmer/Jeff-and-Kevin Jones era, recognize that this organization put these players in the position to put themselves in this position. They have held onto money when many other teams have spent. They have cited “fiscal responsibility” and a desire to not burden themselves with big contracts. Nobody questions the Gilmartin deal; but the Chambers deal, and the Kamida one, will cause them to say goodbye to Beachy and Maybin, as well as Montgomery. Granted, Beachy and Maybin want $200 million contracts, and Montgomery reportedly wants something in the neighborhood of three years, $50 million.
But, let’s call this as it is: The Phillies are penny-pinchers, the team that consistently tries to outthink the rest of the league in finding that uncovered gem. It’s worked in some deals, specifically in the bullpen. But when it comes to the true big-ticket items, the Phillies are a big market playing with small market philosophies.
That does not work. And it’s time for this ownership group to either come to the table and pay the piper, or sell. The moves this group has made this year have been the moves they’ve made every year since they returned in 2013.
This has been a common refrain, and for good reason. Within the construct of the current framework of Major League Baseball, this is unacceptable. The Atlanta Braves have managed to have their cake and eat it too. They make bold moves, but also moves for the future. They are able to help both the current and future product. The Mets have built for their ballpark, and have become what the Phillies wished they would have two years ago.
This is not a time to wonder what could have been, Phillies fans. This group of players has been fun to watch. Frustrating, but fun. And with Chase Utley’s time as a Phillie winding down, it is time to salute The Man.
If, when doing that, you turned towards the owner’s box and offered a one-finger salute, you would not be in the wrong to do so. They have held this franchise back for years, and have empowered others to make decisions that are second-guessable as they are being made.
No more. We’d ask that owners be allowed to be traded, but nobody would want this group.
So, please. Just sell. Make the one good decision you’ve made in your tenure be the final one.