Poor 'ole Junior has some big problems. I don't envy him. If you think things were bad back when the season ended, well, now they're worse.
How bad is worse? Let's start with this: Five players — 1. Cole Hamels 2. Cliff Lee 3. Chase Utley 4. Ryan Howard and 5. Jonathan Papelbon, are still with the team — their combined 2015 salaries total $98.5 million.
Amazingly, for 5 players, that's more than the entire team payroll of last season's 14 major league teams. Go ahead, count them.
1. Colorado Rockies - $93,581,071; 2. Chicago Cubs - $92,677,368; 3. Kansas City Royals - $92,185,521 — lost game 7 in the WS to the Giants 4; San Diego Padres - $90,636,600; 5. Seattle Mariners - $90,239,643; 6. Chicago White Sox - $90,062,659 7; Minnesota Twins - $85,465,000; 8. Cleveland Indians - $85,416,285; 9. New York Mets - $84,951,365 10; Oakland Athletics - $82,320,900; 11. Tampa Bay Rays - $76,872,384; 12. Pittsburgh Pirates - $71,929,333 — made the 2014 post season as a wild card team;13. Houston Astros - $50,484,800; 14. Miami Marlins - $45,828, 400.
Five players equal $98.5 million! That's mind boggling.
The same five players — minus J-Roll, of course — made up the core of the team that lost 89 games two seasons in a row.
More than a few major league general managers have poor ole' Junior backed into a corner. They can smell desperation, like an under cooked fish left too long in the refrigerator.
Sure, some American League clubs are interested in Howard, but want the Phillies to pay most of his salary. Let's see, $25 million take away $6 million leaves, what? $19 million? Times 2 with a '17 option is how much? Uh, oh.
Lee is damaged goods. A team might take a chance on him — sore elbow and all — but not at $25 million and a $27.5 million option in '16. Oh no.
Then there's Papelbon — haha, hehe, hoho — what GM will give up real players for a guy who allegedly grabbed his crotch on a Sunday afternoon kids give-a-way-day? But wait, maybe the Mets will take him and pitch him on Catcher's Cup give-away-day.
Oh, that's bad.
And let's face it, Utley is a half-season player.
Sadly for the ace, Cole Hamels, it comes down to this: Several teams want him for a couple of stiffs. The clubs with top quality rookies — Boston, LA, the Yankees — have kicked the tires and moved on. And Junior's bluff of keeping Hamel's for the season is akin to Vladimir Putin proclaiming the Russian economy good!
"Yes, it's goot!"
Now really. Could the Phillies keep Hamels? Sure, but it would probably ruin him. You saw the facial contortions from the mound last season when Hamels got no run support. In the name of Mother Teresa, the Father Son and Holy Ghost, and the Blessed Mary — the righteous thing to do if necessary, would be to give him away.
Too young and talented to leave on this club bound for hell — with the faithful — us — along with it.
Yes, poor 'ole Junior's in a corner. The walls are closing in. With spring training a chip shot away, it's not a pretty sight.