Calm Down, Phillies Fans

usa-today-8843869-0

First, please acknowledge that I’m not picking on you. In fact, I’m a Phillies fan too. I’ve got tons of hats/shirts/jackets and such to prove it, should you not believe me. The Phils started the season 0-4, with much thanks to the bullpen. If you’ve been paying any attention over the last two years, you saw this coming. This season, in particular, was expected to be distinctly awful. Last season’s “luck” of ending with the worst record (and No. 1 overall pick) was no guarantee. Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, and Chase Utley were still on the team to open the 2015 season. Those three were enough to give people doubts that the Phillies could be bad enough to earn the first pick in the draft. Last year’s team was expected to be a non-contender while they pawned off what value they had left from their aging core, but scoring the draft pick was an added “bonus”.

This year, it’s less of a guessing game. If the Phillies do not have the worst record in the league this year, the front office’s plan for the season will have failed. I do not mean this as a slight to the front office, it is simply the truth. Of course I don’t expect Matt Klentak or Pete Mackanin to come out for the next press conference and say,

“Ok guys, you caught us. We are totally losing on purpose. Not only that, but we are going to continue to lose as much as possible, until we feel good about our farm system.”

lies_macanin_spring_baseball

Phillies GM Matt Klentak (left) and Manager Pete Mackanin (right) are fully prepared for the long road ahead

That would be ridiculous of them to say, because it’s a terrible PR tactic. Sure, there would still be some attendance at the games. The diehard fans that love their team, no matter what, would certainly still attend, as would the non-Phillies fans in the area that just like to watch baseball. But if the team’s leadership actually told the media and fans of their intentions, the fanbase would essentially dissolve. That’s just how many fans are. If the team isn’t winning: they pick another sport.

Now Phillies fans, keep in mind that you begged for this rebuild. Remember the petition? Ruben Amaro Jr. was (understandably) run out of town for failing to initiate a rebuild in a timely fashion. I begged for this rebuild, too. The team needed it. We (the fans) needed it. As real as the goosebumps are when I watch the ‘08 Playoff highlights, that does not justify rooting for the same players, on the same team, 8 years later. Baseball just doesn’t work that way. It’s clear that the team is preparing to lose more than the front office will admit, but Pat Gillick warned us that this was coming.

usa-david-hernandez

David Hernandez – The projected closer, has already been removed from that role

One topic that I feel the need to address is the bullpen. Yes, the team started 0-4 thanks to the ‘pen. Yes, they would have been 2-2 if the relief corps wasn’t a complete tire-fire. However if you look at the history, a tire-fire bullpen is pretty essential to rebuilding a team. Think about it: wouldn’t it be incredibly foolish for a team with no intention of winning in the near future to invest in their bullpen? If the team isn’t expected to compete, then what good is a bullpen? You can’t save games that you don’t lead.

If you need a comparable situation, just look at the Astros or Cubs a few years ago. The Astros lost 100+ games for three consecutive years before taking the “leap” to a record of 70-92 in 2014. Last year, they finally got a taste of the playoffs with a Wild Card berth. This was a fairly quick rebuild for a team that was very, very hard to watch for half a decade. I doubt I’m the only person that feels that Carlos Correa, the 2012 No. 1 overall pick, played a huge role in the Astros’ success this year. If you agree, then please realize that Correa would be playing for a different team, had the Astros not been so bad in 2011.

111615-59-mlb-bryant-correa-ob-pi-vadapt-664-high-80

It’s no coincidence that the Cubs (Kris Bryant) and Astros  (Carlos Correa) both had the Rookie of the Year in their respective leagues last season

The Cubs are a more extreme example, but they have done the same thing. Theo Epstein spelled it out pretty clearly for fans in Chicago, and let it be known from the start that the team would not be a contender while it is rebuilding. Epstein was very tactfully building a system with incredible depth and jaw-dropping talent for three years, all while the Major League team struggled to win 65 games per season. Now you see that Epstein’s plan has come to fruition, as the team won 97 games last year, and the roster is loaded with young talent. While injuries like Kyle Schwarber’s freak accident are always worrisome, the Cubs are still projected to do just fine, even without the slugging lefty.

Even though the team isn’t expected to win many games, there’s still plenty to be excited about when watching the Phillies. Maikel Franco looks like a star in the making over at third base. Should Odubel Herrera’s bat continue to develop, he will be even more of a steal. Aaron Nola and Vincent Velasquez have looked impressive on the mound, as has Jeremy Hellickson. The rebuild is working, it’ll just take some time before the Phillies will be winning games again.  

usa-aaron-nola-maikel-franco-phillies

Nola (left) and Franco (right) should provide a great deal of excitement this year

Rest assured, Philly Phaithful, my blood boils as hot as yours when I watch this team blow saves. I hate to watch my favorite team lose, it really sucks. I simply believe that a rebuild is much more needed than a retooling for this team, and I want to see the Phillies win again someday soon. It’s no guarantee that the high draft picks to come will actually have a role on the next contending Phillies team, but the chances of success are definitely better than if they kept signing 30-year old free agents to supplement a now-37-year old core. Trust the leadership, watch the exciting players, then turn off the game once the bullpen falls apart. It’s hard to watch them lose, but this rebuild gives the Phillies the best opportunity to have another parade in the near future. 

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Calm Down, Phillies Fans

  1. I agree with you. I think management is finally doing the sensible thing, and the pain we’re feeling is proportionate to the delay in rebuilding. Ruben Amaro, Jr. is a good guy, but he couldn’t let go when he should have, and now we have to take some extra time to move on. C’est la vie.

    As for this season, I think true fans of baseball will find plenty to enjoy in the game. Winning is more fun, but the Phils are still providing a lot of great plays on the field, and it can be a pleasure to watch the young guys develop. I have great hopes for the future of the team, and hanging in there through the slog of rebuilding will only make our future victories that much sweeter. (Spoken like a true Philies phan.)

    Like

  2. Pingback: Phillies Players Have Decided They’re Not Tanking | The Game of Redemption

  3. There not tanking. Tanking is when you tear a team down completely and keep the team that way for mutiple seasons with the purpose of collecting high draft picks. Rebuilding is when your tear a team down and immediately try to improve it with young promising players. If the Phillies were tanking like many in the media like to claim then they wouldn’t have traded for players who were 6 months to a year away from being major league ready. They would have traded for a high quanity of low level high upside players. They definitely wouldn’t have brought in guys like hellickson or Morton. Who are competent back of the rotation starters. They would have just called up just a couple of their career minor league pitchers and let them go out there and compete.

    That’s the difference between the sixes and phillies. The Phillies brought in players who could make them better during the transition and acquired guys who can help in the immediate future. The sixers signed a bunch of d league and retired players who would have no positive impact on the roster and purposely drafted a bunch of players who wouldn’t play for the team for a year or 2, and players at the same position so they couldn’t have as much impact when they actually played. With the goal of trading 1 or 2 of them in the future to further delay competing until they are ready to start building an actual team. By either trading them for a star player or players of equal value at positions that aren’t already filled.

    Like

    • Your second paragraph confused me a bit @macjacmccoy. If those 1 or 2 players you’re referring to are Carter-Williams and Jrue Holiday, then I understand your point. If you look at last year’s Phillies team, they tried to trade EVERYBODY. They didn’t even give Utley a chance to raise his trade value (even though he’s clearly got something left in the tank). I can say with 100% certainty that the Phillies were tanking last year. They didn’t trade Cole Hamels for anyone with Major League experience (excluding the injured Harrison), Alfaro is a bit of a question mark, Williams, Thompson, and (especially) Eickhoff were expected to take longer than they have to develop. It went from tanking to rebuilding very quickly, because the front office is full of winners.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s