Ron Costello

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

They Grew A Pair

ROME, Italy. Here's what the Phillies can learn from the Eagles:

First, indeed, youth can carry a team, just as Carson Wentz did until week fourteen, and just as Rhys Hoskins did on this home run tear late last summer. Wentz was thrown onto the field with no NFL experience — and his college experience was even questioned. North Dakota State? Come on. Hoskins was held back until August 10. It was a mistake not bringing him up sooner.

You should know that I think baseball people — particularly Phillies baseball people — put way too much emphasis on "experience," especially when it comes to young players.

To get to the Super Bowl, Mr. Howie Roseman, VP of Football Operations, made some significant free agent transactions: LeGarrette Blount, Jake Elliott; Alshon Jeffery; Torey Smith; Chance Warmack, Patrick Robinson; Chris Long; Nick Foles; and Torrey Smith.

He traded for defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan with the Ravens for a third-round pick — 74th pick overall — and traded another third-round pick and Jordan Matthews to bring in cornerback Ronald Darby, not a popular move on the team or with the Faithful at the time.

Then, in a swashbuckling move, he grabbed Pro Bowl running back Jay Ajayi from Miami at the trade deadline.

He built the team to survive injuries, which it did despite season-ending injuries to Wentz, Jason Peters, Darren Sproles, Jordan Hicks, Chris Maragos and Caleb Sturgis.

How did he do all of this?

In 2013 team owner Jeffrey Laurie hired Oregon coach Chip Kelly and Roseman eventually lost his GM duties. He was kicked upstairs, a slap in the face, degraded.

Mr. Roseman said his departure from running football operations gave him time "to think," and think he did. He turned over a roster that went 7-9 last season to 13-3 with a first seed in the NFC.

What happened during Roseman's vacation? Did he take a course in "Building an NFL Team?" or did he grow a pair?" In fact, he was quoted as saying, "My biggest regrets in football are that I haven't trusted my instinct."

Nick Foles deservingly got the Super Bowl MVP, but if they were to give another, it should go to Howie Roseman.

So far, the Wizzard, Matt Klentak, has dipped his big toe in the water. He's made some nice moves: late-inning relief pitchers Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek. He's signed Carlos Santana. All nice-nice. But there's work to be done. What about Tommy Joseph and Cameron Rupp? Are they going or staying? How about Cesar Hernandez — a good second baseman but Matt Kingery is on the verge. Is there another starting pitcher in the works?

What about Odúbel Herrera? Is he going or staying?

Maybe Mr. Klentak has it all planned out. We'll know sooner or later, with Spring Training around the corner. Pitchers and catchers report February 14, everybody else soon after.

Or maybe Mr. Klentak is afraid to make a move, afraid to shoot his eye out.

Or maybe he's not making the final decisions. Maybe Phillies owner John S. Middleton and Andy MacPhail, President of Baseball Operations, have to approve everything he does. Or maybe he's just slow on the draw.

I don't know. You can't get anything in the papers. Ever since the Chamber of Commerce and the 'New Institute for Journalism in New Media' took over, I haven't read one negative story on the Phillies. Something doesn't seem right. Too much goody-two-shoes stuff. Has the "People Paper" become the PR paper?

My advice to Mr. Klentak is this: Call Mr. Roseman and invite him to lunch. Find out how he "acted with fortitude, strength, and determination. Find out how he manned up.

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