Ron Costello

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

They will tell you that they're not ready to play in the major leagues.

But don't believe it. It's the company line, figured out deep within the confines of Citizens Bank Park by Mr. Andy and the Upstart GM, Matt Klentak, and a host of scouting employees.

Team majority owner and the right hand of Sister Mary Scullion and project HOME, John Middleton, might see things differently. She's my kind of woman. He's my kind of man.

So too might Father Comcast, a major player in Phillies baseball according to a $2.5 billion contract. You can watch the action from your front row Xfinity seats on any given day as long as you pay your Comcast high-speed internet package bill — that is, if you can afford to.

The four not ready for prime time? Andrew Knapp, Nick Williams, Jack Thompson, and J.P Crawford. See the photo of Jake and Nick on the right.

Is it better to let them languish at Triple-A Lehigh Valley for the second half of the season and then introduce them to the Faithful in September, when the club can increase its roster from a 25 man to a 40 man?

Naw, what's exciting about that?

No doubt old school Mr. Andy would argue for it, and I'm sure he is carrying the weight of the decisions.

But here's another thought.

Bring them up in July, reconstruct the 25-man, and create a buzz in this city that hasn't been felt or heard since Michael Nutter was sworn in for his first term. I'll save you the Google time — that was 2008.

Just let em' play.

To do this four spots must be cleared from the current 25-man. Two of the four are as clear as Philadelphia on a windy day: Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz. They would have to be released and allowed to cut their own deals for the remainder of the season. And of course, get paid. Howard is in the final year of a five-year, $125 million contract, with a $10 million club buyout for 2017. Chooch is in the final year of a three-year, $16 million contract, with a $500,000 club buyout for 2017.

Sooo, don't feel toooo sorry for them.

But the money is far from the obstacles, here. The Phillies can certainly afford to let them go, as opposed to keeping them and taking up room on the roster, for arguably, youngsters who are ready for the Show.

Carlos Ruiz .229 - 3 home runs - 11 RBI
Ryan Howard .154 - 12home runs - 27 RBI

Breaks your heart to look at it. But these two great players are in the past. The Faithful wants to look to the future.

And it's time.

There's something else to consider: The NL Wild-Card standings. The Phillies are six behind the Dodgers, Mets, Marlins, Cardinals, and Pirates for the two NL Wild-Card spots. Six games back with a half season left isn't insurmountable. It's certainly doable.

Would releasing Howard and Ruiz to create four roster spots — surely the Phillies can come up with two more spots without my suggestions — to bring in Crawford, Thompson, Williams, and Knapp, create excitement in the second half? Plus, have the team more prepared to take the field in April of 2017, by giving the four youngsters more Show time.

A rotation of Nola, Velasquez, Eickhoff, Eflin and Thompson with six out in the wild-card with half a season left would no doubt be exciting. It would be Phillies baseball again, with the added advantage of watching a very young team.

Just let em' play.

One might argue that Ryan Howard's 12 home runs are nothing to sneeze at, that it is possible he could get hot in the second half and finish with 25 or 30. So what, having a glimpse of the future early would be so much more productive.

It comes down to this. Do the Phillies have more loyalty to two icons or the Faithful?

Bring them up and just let 'em play. But you and I both know it ain't going to happen.

Old school still rules in Philly.

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