Lets face it, this has not exactly been a fun year for Phillies fans. The aging team that we all thought would struggle to compete has lived up to our expectations. The GM that fans thought was incompetent did nothing to diminish that philosophy at the trade deadline when he failed to make a move on one of the most active trade deadline’s in years. The baseball legend turned manager has made questionable calls, and come under criticism by his own players. Yes this has certainly not been a fun year for Phillies fans. Yet the Phillies have been doing something lately that has been out of the ordinary this season; They are winning. Not enough to actually make a run, but enough to have a possible negative impact on the future.
In 1968 Eagles fans jumped into the national spotlight when they threw snowballs at a Santa Clause look-a-like. Yes, I am here to dispel the myth that Eagles fans threw snowballs at the real Santa. It was not him, but a skinny guy in a bad Santa suit. What does not get mentioned by the national media when this story gets brought up a few times a year is the reason why. In 1968 the Eagles were terrible, arguably the worst team in the NFL. The saving grace for Eagles fans was a running back from the University of Southern California named Orenthal James Simpson. The Eagles however did not end up with the future Hall of Fame running back, but instead they drafted Leroy Keys (who?!). The Eagles ended up winning the final two games of the season, which dropped their draft stock from first, to third. Sitting in frigid temperatures, watching a terrible team lose out on Simpson was the last straw for those fans that day. The Phillies are doing the same thing that the Eagles did in 1968.
On August 19th the Phillies held the sixth pick in the draft with a record of 55-71. After a series win against the Marlins that ended with a loss on Sunday the Phillies now hold the eleventh pick in the draft. Thanks to the Astros failing to sign their first round pick Brady Aiken they will be awarded the second overall pick in next June’s MLB draft, pushing the Phillies draft pick back by one pick. So while the Phillies have the tenth worst record in Major League Baseball, they hold the eleventh pick thanks to the Astros ineptitude.
The immediate impact is obviously not the same in Major League Baseball as it is in the National Football League. But the long term impact of the Phillies recent winning ways doesn’t stop at the draft, but could also bleed into the front office. The Phillies 16-14 record is tied for the eleventh best record in baseball over the last 30 games. This could possibly give the front office reason to not only not change a thing, but actually believe the team can compete in 2015. Because of the recent mediocre success of the team we could be looking at déjà vu come 2015.
The top 11 picks in the 2015 MLB Draft will be protected. So if the standings stay as is Phillies fans wont have to worry about Ruben Amaro Jr. giving away the teams first round pick for a Type A free agent. Since Ruben Amaro Jr. will likely be feeling the burn of the hot seat that he currently sits on, he will likely look to sign a top free agent, and then once again tell fans this team can compete, the window is not closed, and 35 is the new 25.
If you are hoping for change this offseason the Phillies are doing just enough to ensure there wont be any. The depleted farm system could certainly use a top five pick in the draft, but likely wont get one at this rate. For sheer sanity’s sake Phillies fans need a major change in the front office, but the seventh worst team in 2013 is now the eleventh worst team in 2014 and to this front office that is seen as “improvement”. Watching the Phillies win these meaningless games in September is fun. But the long term impact might prove that these games are not meaningless at all. If you are hoping for change this offseason you need the September Phillies to play like the May Phillies.