I’m going be honest with you; I think I’m depressed. I’m sad, dejected, beaten down and feeling empty inside when it comes to the Phillies. This is what Ruben Amaro Jr. – and the Phillies as a whole – has done to me. I’d like to imagine that I was ever the optimist when it came to the Phillies – posting such wise things as the quote below. I said this after a September 2008 loss left the Phillies 4-games back of the Wild Card leading Brewers just as the Brewers came to town for a 4-game series.
“What if they sweep the Brewers this weekend?? That gives us crazy momentum with two weeks to go.”
I believed in this team, I argued for this team, spent my time, money, and a ton of emotion on them –and they rewarded me with a championship in 2008. Those were the glory days, but this feels like rock bottom. They aren’t contenders, but they aren’t rebuilding. “Cross your fingers and hope for the best” seems to be the GM’s plan for 2014.
When it was clear to most fans that the 2013 Phillies couldn’t contend, the wise move was to start the rebuilding process. That roster had an aging core, and the attempted patch of Michael Young, Delmon Young, etc, just didn’t work. Did Ruben Amaro Jr. learn his lesson? No.
The Phillies brass simply continues to add older players that aren’t anything like the pieces needed to put a winner on the field. Marlon Byrd and a healthy Ryan Howard aren’t the key difference between a 73-win team, and the 90-ish wins it takes to win a Wild Card spot, let alone the NL East title. This team is nowhere near contending, and it doesn’t matter which other moves they make.
Because paying attention to the Phillies was so depressing in September, I don’t know if many people remember that this club actually finished 4th in the division, just behind the New York Mets. The only teams in the National League that the Phillies bested in the standings were the Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs. That’s it. But somehow Ruben Amaro Jr. believes this team is built to contend in 2014.
Day after day I keep thinking about this quote in a Jayson Stark article from a few weeks back, when he talked to an unnamed American League executive about the current state of the Phillies:
“I just don’t understand exactly what they’re doing, “ said one AL exec. “If you’re seriously trying to win, you don’t do it this way. And if you’re trying to get younger, you don’t do it this way. At some point, they’ve got to pick a direction and go with it.”
If that isn’t depressing to read, I don’t know what is. It’s like a punch in the gut. And what makes it hurt the most is that it’s 100 percent accurate. This organization has no plan. When they kept Chase Utley, and resigned Carlos Ruiz, I thought for certain that they’d go after some of the big name free agents on the market – if you’re trying to win, you should go all in. But in keeping with the poker terms, Ruben Amaro Jr. keeps checking and checking and will soon be out of chips, having never really played a solid hand.
Sorry to bring you down, but hopefully Phillies fans can still have a Happy New Year!