Ron Costello

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Should we be thankful about the Phillies? Hmm, I don't know

From the start of the season through August 7, 2018, the Phillies had the NL's second-best record at 64-49. 

Yet, from August eighth through the season's end on September 30, the Phillies were the NL's worst team, going 16-33 and outscored by 90 runs.

What happened?

  • Bringing in veteran players and inserting them in the starting lineup killed team chemistry; 
  • The young players who got the team to August 7 — and not accustomed to the long season grind — tired and lost their edge;
  • The rotation fizzled out from fatigue and inexperience and got hammered;
  • Finding themselves in a  tight  NL Eastern Division race, the young team folded under pressure;
  • The young players grew tired of their musical chairs manager and quit on him;
  • The veteran players showed up at the end of July and told the young players, "Kapler doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground. Don't listen to him." 

Could be more than one of the above or all of the above. But at this point it doesn't matter, it was what it was.

It does bring to question whether the young core is good enough. Once you're past Aaron Nola, everyone is questionable. 

Who else besides Mr. Nola won a job for 2019?

Maybe Rhys Hoskins, but he cooled off faster than a dead man's nose. The Phillies had him playing out of position, and throughout the season he looked awkward in left. 

Take your time, I don't mind waiting: One position player who won a job for 2019? 

Maikel Franco? I don't think so. The Phillies seem inclined to trade him to open third up for Carlos Santana. That will be another disaster. It's only to cover one mistake — signing Santana — with another.

Odúbel Herrera? He's reversed course in a few offensive categories and continues to make stupid mistakes. 

J.P. Crawford? Scott Kingery? Nick Williams? Jorge Alfaro? Roman Quinn? Aaron Altherr?

No. They all played so-so baseball. Or less.

Or the rotation. Is it good enough with Nick Pivetta (7-14), Vince Velasquez (9-12), and Jerad Eickhoff (0-1)? Even Zach Eflin (11-8) tanked at season's end, going 2-4 with a 6.46 ERA in his last seven games. 

Beyond Mr. Nola, the rotation underperformed.

Mr. Middleton says he has money to spend. But who's making the decisions to spend it? If the $135 million dished out to Jake Arrieta and Carlos Santana is an example of wise spending, perhaps Mr. Middleton should hang on to his money.

Aside from the July deadline trades — which you or I could've done, teams want to unload pending free agents — what has the Phillies' GM Matt Klentak accomplished?  

That is, other than putting Mr. Santana in Hoskins way at first base and tendering questionable contracts to Kingery and Odúbel? He's not obtained one 'impact player' in the three years he's been GM.

He's hired a manager that's big on analytics and small on experience and at times appeared to go out of his way to shove analytics down the throats of the Faithful.

Mr. Kapler moved players around like he was committed to changing the game — whether it made sense or not. He says he's learned and next season he'll make adjustments.

Would you trust your money — and we're talking big money and long-term contracts, contracts that could stymie the success of the club for years — to Matt Klentak and Gabe Kapler?

Of course, I could be wrong, and the Phillies will make the necessary trades and free agent signings needed to play October baseball, now and long into the future.

But I wouldn't bet on it. 

Would you?

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