Ron Costello

Friday, December 4, 2015

Why else would they trade closer Ken Giles?

It's called tanking.

Unless the old-school Phillies didn't like the Giles dugout blow up with Ryne Sandberg. Really, Sandberg was the worst choice for manager since Frank Lucchesi (166-233).

After getting fired by the Phillies and going to the Rangers, Lucchesi also had a blow-up. In spring training Lucchesi announced,"I'm sick and tired of punks making $80,000 a year moaning and groaning about their situation." Next day a player — the punkee? — decked Lucchesi, gave him a concussion and broken jaw.

Baseball handles its problems like the Catholic Church. The Rangers promptly traded the punkee to the Mets. The point is managers bring on incidents like this. Even Utley — and I'll genuflect when I write his name — got into a tussle with Sandberg.

Who wouldn't? Even meek and mild me would!

The Phillies want prospects for Giles — they figure they don't need him for a couple of years while they're tanking, so unload him while he's hot.

Let's define tanking: "A team's intent to do less than everything it can to win. It's a concerted effort over several years by a team to deliberately not be as good as it could be."

The definition is describing the Phillies, is it not?

The Sixers get hammered for tanking, but at least the Sixers are honest about it. The Phillies say they are rebuilding. "We are in the rebuilding process, it may take several years." It's already at "several," what now five or six?

Granted, NBA teams tank — lose — to get a top draft pick.

Baseball — under the guise of rebuilding — tank for different reasons. The baseball draft is 40 rounds unlike the two rounds of the NBA draft. Besides, most drafted baseball players stay at least 2-3 years in the minors or more, whereas the NBA draftees play almost immediately.

The  Phillies tank for different reasons: Waiting for minor league talent to develop; waiting to trade Hamels, Utley, Papelbon, and Rollins; waiting for more talent to develop; waiting for hefty salaries to disappear.

Waiting for the sun to eclipse behind Pluto.

Thing is, the Phillies haven't just started tanking. They've been getting away it with for years. Look at their loss record for the past three seasons:
  • 2015 - 99 loses
  • 2014 - 89 losses
  • 2013 - 89 loses
Now the club is saying, "we need another two."

That's ridiculous. No, it's not, it's tanking. 

Meanwhile, the Faithful, including the season ticket holders and game plan enthusiasts, continue to pay top dollar for club blunders year after year in the name of rebuilding.

Could it be that Father Comcast's money allowed the Phillies to fall asleep? Perhaps, and that's exactly where the club is: asleep at the wheel for 2016.

Here are some more recent tanking moves.

They've acquired pitcher Jeremy Hellickson from the D-Backs to "stabilize" their rotation and signed him for a year at $4.2 million. Hellickson got hammered last season, but the Phillies believe he will "rebound" during this his free agent year.

And I believe we'll wake up one day and Jeb Bush will have "rebounded," too.

Here's a biggie. They claimed 30-year-old Dan Otero off waivers; Otero had a 6.75 ERA in 46 appearances last season with Oakland. The Phillies said he'll add "depth" to the bullpen.

Depth might be good when you're tanking, but a young, strong arm would be even better. Of course, you have to pay more money for those.

Another biggie. Signed veteran 30-year-old reliever James Russell to a one-year minor league deal; let's hope Russell gives the team more left handed relief options.

Plus they landed the submarine-style reliever Greg Burke to a — you guessed — minor league deal.

They claimed "off waivers" AJ Achter who posted a 6.75 ERA with the Twins and signed him to a one-year minor league deal. This is a dual tanking option, both claimed off waivers and signed to a minor leage contract.

Like the Daily Double!

Claiming players off waivers usually means no other team wants them. Signing players to minor league deals means clubs don't have to clear roster spots for them, and they can be sent down without clearing waivers. But here's the big reason: it also means they come cheap.

What more can I say?

Tanking, tanking, tanking!


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