Moving the Phillies Forward

As mediocrity goes, you can’t get more mediocre than 81-81. While everyone has a diagnosis for why the Phillies were so mediocre, it’s worth remembering one thing- absolutely no one predicted this. The 2018 Phillies were 80-82, an improvement from 66-96 the year before, and largely did it with improved pitching in Gabe Kapler’s first year. After adding two former NL MVP outfielders, a multi-time All-Star shortstop, arguably the best catcher in the game, and a durable and elite late-inning reliever, the Phillies weren’t expecting a one-game improvement. It was easy to expect 90 wins and an NL Wild Card. Neither happened.

When it comes to assigning blame for this season, I come unequivocally down on the side of blaming the General Manager and front office. Yes, the manager has his flaws. Yes, injuries hit this team- as they did the 100 plus win Yankees. The truth is that this team was simply not talented enough though, because of the GM. I assign blame to Matt Klentak for four specific failures:

  1. Terrible starting pitching. Taking a chance on one of Eflin, Velasquez, and Pivetta might have made sense. Rolling the dice with all three, then trotting out a busted Eickhoff, a rookie Irvin, and trying to pass off Smyly and Vargas as help was insane. Klentak simply has to stop trying to be precisely right on his “player valuations,” and get some premier talent.
  2. A punchless, inadequate bench. Among this year’s underrated disasters was the bench. Gosselin lead the team in pinch hits, despite being DFA’ed and spending a few months in AAA. Aaron Altherr played significant games here. Nick Williams didn’t work off the bench. Roman Quinn still can’t stay healthy. Andrew Knapp isn’t a great hitter. Jay Bruce and Scott Kingery had to provide most of their value as starters. And yeah, Sean Rodriguez was on the team.
  3. An old bullpen unable to pitch the way their manager wants to manage. Presumably the Phillies asked Gabe Kapler about managing a bullpen in his interview. I presume they understood he wants to play match-ups aggressively in the late innings. If they understood that relievers were going to be getting up and down a lot, making a lot of one and two out appearances, and needing to be durable enough to get up and down almost every night, then why did they give him a bunch of older relievers. Men over 35 years old can perform as relievers, but they need their rest. Robertson, Neshek, Nicasio, and Hunter all were older arms that got injured this season. Even younger guys like Seranthony, Arano, and Morgan had issues staying healthy in this system. The front office didn’t think this through.
  4. A minor league system unprepared to help. This isn’t getting enough attention on the list of failures. The Phillies raided the IronPigs early and often to plug holes. It didn’t work. The team failed to attract veteran AAA players who could help, and failed to develop much beyond Adam Haseley in terms of prospects ready to help now. Just two of Klentak’s draft choices over the first four years have played for the team. That’s pretty alarming.

What do I then make of the debate over Gabe Kapler’s future? I largely don’t care. I do come down on the side of firing both he and pitching coach Chris Young, mostly because neither provided much positive. Kapler hired poor hitting and pitching coaches, projected his laid back persona onto a team that needed more accountability, and refused to adjust in areas where his philosophies failed. I’m not really concerned that his press conferences were abrasive to our fanbase, but I am concerned by his unwillingness to play any old-school, situational baseball. Ultimately though, I blame Kapler less than the front office for this team’s failures. I’m less interested in firing him than Klentak. He may even be this generation’s Terry Francona that stinks here and figures it out elsewhere. I don’t dislike the guy. I’d mostly fire him because I don’t think he’s great at this right now, and I think there are better available options on the market, not because I think he’s the top thing ailing our team.

Looking ahead to the off-season, I have my wishlist in mind for what they need on the field too. I’m looking for:

  • Go for some big splashes. Cole, Rendon, and Strasburg (if he opts out) are all worth the bid. Nothing is hurt by succeeding here. But more directly…
  • Two starting pitchers. At least one needs to be a legit number two type, and the other should be at least a three. I’d be in on the Bumgarner, Hamels, Wheeler market, in addition to the pitchers above. I’d also be in on the Ray, Minor, Boyd trade market.
  • At least two late-inning relievers. And yes, there should be some guys below 35 here. The Phillies should even consider forking out some closer market money on San Francisco’s Smith.
  • Either a starting center fielder or a very solid fourth outfielder. I’m thinking you either make Adam Haseley your fourth outfielder for now by grabbing a big splash in center, or you come home with a Cameron Maybin type of fourth outfielder type that you don’t fear starting sometimes. I’m not opposed to re-signing Dickerson and giving up a little defense with him and McCutchen in left and center, with Haseley spelling their off days and late innings, but I don’t find it realistic.
  • An upgrade utility infielder. I have no problem with Brad Miller being back, but upgrade on Sean Rodriguez. If it’s Kingery playing this role because you signs third baseman and don’t dump Cesar at second, I’m fine, but upgrade here.

I think we’re walking into next season with three starters (Nola, Arrieta, Eflin), at least six or seven starting positions, and three of the five bench spots (Grullon, Miller, and Bruce) filled in-house. That’s it bad. My big worry though is the Phillies will fire Kapler, and allow Klentak to repeat last off-season where he whiffs on filling out a full roster because he’s afraid to spend some veteran money on pitchers and bench pieces. I’m fine with firing people, I just wish we were talking about the right people. The failures of 2019 need to be assigned to stubbornness by the front office to make the last one or two moves needed. Only a change in attitude and philosophy can take us to the playoffs in 2020.

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And Now That It’s Over…

Saturday night was the last Phillies game on our 17 game plan for this season, and within 24 hours after that, it all finally seemed over. After the Red Sox had completed the sweep on Sunday afternoon, it finally seemed safe to stop saying “maybe” this team would make the playoffs. Last night as I laid on my couch and watched the Cubs win again, it dawned on me that this season is almost definitely over. I’d still like to see them beat out the Mets for third and win 82 games, I guess, but I don’t really care. The season that seemed so promising when I was down in Clearwater in March will end as their eighth straight season out of the playoffs.

I won’t play the game of “who to blame,” because I don’t want to leave anyone deserving out. For the second straight season, Gabe Kapler and his analytics driven approach failed in a pennant race. He over manages the game playing every match-up, and frankly his chosen coaching staff (particularly his original hitting coach and his pitching coach) taught their “new” approach to the game, and failed miserably. I’d stop the blame there, but that would be irresponsible and unfair. Matt Klentak handed him a flawed roster, one that could hit pretty well, but couldn’t pitch to save their lives. Not a single Phillies starting pitcher has a better ERA than the Braves fourth starter, Julio Teheran, and only one has thrown more innings. Klentak gave Kapler, his chosen manager, a bullpen full of pitchers over 35 years old, knowing full well that Klentak regularly likes to use his bullpen early and often. Add on a pitching coach trying to force all of the pitchers to throw four-seam fastballs up in the zone, and you see how the disaster happens. The GM did a bad job building his rotation, bullpen, and bench. The manager doesn’t use them right. The pitching coach was a noticeable downgrade from the one we let go to Atlanta. And yeah, well, the pitchers and hitters mostly didn’t do their jobs either.

You can only blame the players to the extent that they underperform their abilities. There is no doubt that this team on the field now was somewhat unlucky. Your center fielder beat up his girlfriend in a casino, your original left fielder tore his ACL in the midst of a really good bounce back season, then the new left fielder you traded for had typical nagging injuries for an older player. So sure, you’re going through the growing pains with a rookie in center field. Your third baseman did what he’s done throughout his young career so far, and when the team got impatient, they sat him down and played a lot of inferior bench players. Your old bullpen guys all got injured together, and you got stuck with waiver wire and AAA guys to finish the season. About the only part of the team that legitimately underperformed on the field was your starting pitchers, and that was fatal. Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto put up 3.8 and 5.7 WAR seasons to date, or roughly All-Star and All-Star plus level seasons in their first years here, with particularly strong second halves. Jean Segura wasn’t quite what he was last season in Seattle, but he’s an “every other year” type of player traditionally, and still posted a well above average 2.6 WAR. Cesar Hernandez is pretty much who he was last year too. Scott Kingery was a pleasant surprise to even his biggest critics, like me, posting a respectable 2.4 WAR season. The only true disappointment has been Rhys Hoskins, and he’s posting a solid 2.7. A poor second half and low batting average makes us not appreciate a 28 homer, 81 RBI performance. On the field, for the most part, you got what you paid for, so while I am not a fan of Kapler’s methods, this team’s failures need to mostly be laid at the feet of bad luck and bad front office work.

Let’s not beat around the bush- a year ago right now, our owner was talking about “stupid money.” That did not happen. Instead our general manager used his “player valuations” to talk himself out of giving Patrick Corbin the sixth year, or out-bidding the Rays for Charlie Morton, or making an offer to current Brave Dallas Keuchel, or even trading minimal value for Cole Hamels last Summer. For your information, all of those guys are currently headed for the playoffs. All of them are at least better than four of the Phillies pitchers. Did I mention above that our pitching coach from last year is in Atlanta too? Meanwhile our team President Andy McPhail’s attitude was “if we get in, we get in, if we don’t, we don’t.” The Phillies, and owner John Middleton who promised stupid money, meanwhile stayed below the luxury tax with an inadequate team. Player valuations are a great excuse for this in small markets, like Oakland and Milwaukee, both of who still have stronger playoff aspirations than us. That shouldn’t work in the largest single-team market in the league though. And if you’re going that route, you better do it as well as Oakland and Milwaukee. The ownership and front office failed this team though. They didn’t do enough to win in 2019. That’s idiotic when you consider the money they did spend.

My only conclusion is that you can’t keep the blame to just one person or part of this team. If I were John Middleton, I would remove everyone from McPhail to Klentak, and Kapler and his coaching staff. For one, they failed to reach your goals with your money. Second though, they really lost this fan base as the summer was dragging on. The stands were not full like the heyday of 2009. They weren’t that entertaining. You have a team tied for third place, in the division, and a minor league system rated near the bottom of the league. Their draft choices aren’t reaching the league, and player development is questionable at best. There’s not much whining success to point to. The best moves of last off-season, bringing in the Harpers, Realmutos, Seguras, and McCutchens are not particularly genius- any idiot with the budget would do that. On the hard moves, everyone basically failed.

A new regime, one with a bigger market perspective, could do a lot with the parts the Phillies would hand them. I think they should consider doing that.

All’s Well That Ends Well?

John Mallee is gone. Charlie Manuel is back! If you wanted to brighten the day of like 80% of the Phillies fanbase, you’d do what the Phillies did Tuesday. By ridding themselves of an unpopular scapegoat, and bringing back a “conquering hero” to their fanbase, the Phillies temporarily pleased their market audience, Philadelphia baseball fans, and in the process maybe did something to correct the course of their season.

I am neither a fan of the McPhail-Klentak-Kapler regime, or of the ideas they have implemented up to this point. I’m also not terribly stupid. Almost all of baseball at this point operates on analytics, and guys are hitting the baseball pretty well. On the flip side, a hitting coach doesn’t go up in the box and hit for the players on the team. I probably would not teach little leaguers to go to the plate and try to pull every pitch and always try to hit home runs. Honestly, it’s just ugly baseball. On the other hand, baseball is breaking records for offense- and seemingly not gaining fans like it expected. The modern version of the game is what it is, and so is the reaction of the public. Launch angle is producing home runs. Seats still lack rear-ends in them. The two things are not directly linked. They’re not unrelated entirely, either. John Mallee can’t shoulder the entirety of the blame for the whole Phillies line-up under-performing, a bad farm system, and an atrocious pitching staff. On the other hand, he’s a hitting coach for a team that can’t hit- he really shouldn’t keep his job. That’s made even worse by the expectation that this team would hit the ball.

I really shouldn’t be that excited that Charlie Manuel is now the Phillies hitting coach- it’s not like he’s going to go to the plate and hit for the players. But I’m excited anyway. Maybe it’s because Charlie was the hitting coach in Cleveland developing Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, and Albert Belle. Maybe it’s because he was manager of the best offensive teams in Phillies history, and managed the 2008 World Champions. Maybe it’s just because it’s a change to a boring, terrible product that I hated to watch. Most of all it’s because of the picture above- a sad ending to a happy time for Phillies fans, being rectified by our hero coming home to fix a mess. Does it really matter why? I’m just happy about my baseball team again.

But really though, does this move matter? I mean, we act like hitting a baseball has been reinvented in the past five years, as though great teachers of hitting a baseball twenty years ago were clearly backward hicks, incapable of teaching the game. Charlie’s teams in Cleveland hit lots of home runs, and so did his teams in Philadelphia. Because he didn’t call it “launch angle,” do we think he wasn’t teaching Jim Thome and Ryan Howard to hit for power? I have no doubt that he’ll tell hitters to hit to all fields, instead of just pulling the ball, and that he’ll tone down the emphasis on upper-cutting the ball, and that he’ll try to get hitters back to their comfort zones, instead of teaching a rigid theory, but is Charlie really a massive change? I suppose if the Phillies make the playoffs, we’ll all believe yes. I guess what I’m saying is that the answer may be more “gray area” than we all want to believe.

In the end though, who cares? Baseball is entertainment, and entertainment should make you happy. Charlie Manuel returning makes me happy. I’m just happy the sad picture of him walking away with a Wawa bag after the Phillies fired him isn’t the last chapter. If he happens to be the savior of an eventual championship season, great, but at least the fans are chanting his name again at Citizens Bank Park. Do I think he’ll save these Phillies? You can probably guess my answer. You can also probably guess that I don’t give a shit, because my team made me happy, and being happy is what matters in life.

After the Deadline, are the Phillies Who We Thought They Are?

The trade deadline has come and passed, and I think it’s safe to say the Phillies are not an elite MLB team. If I just had to name teams off the top of my head who are clearly better, I could start with the Astros, Dodgers, and Yankees, none of whom do I think the Phillies can beat in a seven game series. The Phillies are seven games out of first, so they’re probably not catching Atlanta either. If I were a gambling man, I wouldn’t bet on the Phillies against the Nationals, Cubs, Brewers, Indians, Red Sox, or Athletics in a series either.

Alas, the Phillies are in a three-way tie for the Wild Card and would be in a playoff game if the season ended today. They’re also a better team than they were before the deadline. Laugh at Jason Vargas and Drew Smyly, if you’d like, they present actual, tangible upgrades at the second and third starter spots than the slop the Phillies were throwing- in fact, steep upgrades. Mike Morin and Blake Parker don’t make the Phillies bullpen into the “Nasty Boys,” but combine them with moving starters into the bullpen and you reduce the sting of David Robertson being done for the year. As for Corey Dickerson and his .924 OPS, even if you don’t think he’s Hank Aaron, he can play. By every measurement, the Phillies got better with every move.

And yet it didn’t really feel like it. It felt like a collection of bit moves from a team unable or unwilling to make a big move. And you know what? That’s kind of true. The Phillies did not have the kind of package that Houston traded to get Greinke. They weren’t willing to part with some of their top prospects anyway. And so here we are. They’re a playoff team today. It really feels like there are at least six teams better than them in the NL though. It’s a strange state for a team.

Success for the 2019 Phillies has been redefined as getting into the Wild Card. In the pre-season I predicted the Phillies winning the first Wild Card and then the National League. That’s still perfectly possible. It just doesn’t feel probable. Hopefully we’re about to witness the first chapter in the legend of Bryce Harper in Philly.

The Stupid Money John Middleton Actually Spent

I’m rarely astounded by anything, but this one got me- the Phillies extended Matt Klentak?!? This would be Matt Klentak who extended Pete Mackanin early in the 2017 season, but fired him at the end of the season? Klentak who has never had a winning team, and who’s teams are 266-315 since his hiring? Klentak who preferred Manny Machado to Bryce Harper, but never made an offer within $75 million of his guy’s final number. Klentak who passed on getting Cole Hamels for a bucket of slop last Summer, wouldn’t give the extra year to Patrick Corbin, did the same with J.A. Happ, didn’t want Dallas Keuchel, and currently rolls with an injured Jake Arrieta, who he gave $25 million a year to, and three young starters that collapsed last year, and mostly stink this year? The guy who made a bunch of failed trades last year at the deadline? The guy who has just two draft choices of his own that have appeared in the majors? The guy who’s system has just two top 100 prospects? What has Klentak done to deserve this?

So today we learned Klentak and Team President Andy McPhail both got secret extensions from the team- why? What has happened to warrant that? This team is treading water at .500 in mid-July, and most of the problems have been caused by them or the coaching staff they put in place. Just as the fan base was coming around to wanting everyone fired, we’re thrown for this loop? Are we really going to watch three more years of Klentak losing out on free agent pitchers over an extra year on the deal? Another three years of over valuing mediocre prospects? Another three years of a poor bench? Of hurt relievers? Is this real?

Any idiot would have signed Harper to a relatively club friendly deal. Literally any idiot makes the Realmuto or Segura trades at the time. Signing McCutchen to a relatively safe deal didn’t take much brain power either. Even the Bruce and Miller trades this year weren’t hard. What’s it all add up to? Third place. A fringe playoff team.

The Phillies really didn’t spend stupid money on any players on the roster. It turns out they spent stupid money on the guys running the team.

A Fair Minded Look at the Phillies at the All-Star Break

If the season was over today, the Phillies would be on the way to Washington, DC to play the Nats in a Wild Card match-up between Max Scherzer and Aaron Nola. The season is not over today though. The Phillies are 47-43, in third place, and trending downward. They are both a playoff team at the moment and a team who feels like everything is wrong. It is confusing.

The Phillies have the same record as the Cubs, a legitimate contender. Before you get excited though, that’s the story of the whole National League. The only teams more than five games out of the playoffs right now are the Marlins (13), Mets (7), and Giants (5.5). While the Phillies have lost 9.5 games since June started to the Braves, and over 10 to the Nats in the standings, it’s important to note that only the Dodgers, Braves, and Nationals have really played all that well in that time. This is a free for all.

The problem for the Phillies though is that their issues run deep, particularly at the starting rotation. Aaron Nola (8-2, 3.74 ERA, 110.2 IP, 1.8 WAR) is increasingly looking like the top of rotation young Ace they banked on. Zach Eflin (7-8, 3.78 ERA, 100 IP, 1.1 WAR) looks like a capable mid-rotation arm in the majors too. Then what? Jake Arrieta has continued his regression since coming to Philadelphia, and now may need elbow surgery to remove a bone spur. As much as Arrieta was disappointing, he’s been the only other major league caliber arm that you could trust to go out every fifth turn and eat six innings. After a brief hot spurt after returning from the minors, Nick Pivetta produced a 7.33 ERA over his last four starts, reverting to the early season form that got him sent down. It looks increasingly like it’s time to give Pivetta a look in the bullpen, as it has been time to do with Vince Velasquez for a while. Neither are looking like major league starters. Jerad Eickhoff is once again hurt, after pitching himself into and out of the bullpen. AAA starters Enryel de los Santos and Cole Irvin have been unable to stick with the club either. At a bare minimum, the Phillies need two major league starters to sustain themselves in a playoff race.

The line-up has taken some deserved abuse, but let’s take a deeper look for a second. Here are some of the key lines at the break:

  • Bryce Harper- .253/.370/.470/.840, 16 homers, 62 RBIs, 2 WAR
  • JT Realmuto- .273/.328/.438/.766, 10 homers, 42 RBIs, 2.8 WAR
  • Rhys Hoskins- .263/.401/.530/.931, 20 homers, 59 RBI, 2.5 WAR
  • Jean Segura- .278/.322/.447/.769, 10 homers, 40 RBIs, 2.1 WAR
  • Scott Kingery- .292/.344/.545/.889, 11 homers, 27 RBIs, 1.6 WAR
  • Cesar Hernandez- .285/.339/.420/.759, 7 homers, 40 RBIs, 1.3 WAR
  • Jay Bruce- .243/.292/.575/.867, 24 homers, 57 RBIs, 1.4 WAR
  • Maikel Franco- .227/.296/.413/.709, 13 homers, 41 RBIs, -.2 WAR

Where would you like to upgrade? Sure, Franco has been his volatile self, but with Alec Bohm looking like a 2020 arrival at third base, are you getting more than a stop gap piece for the year? Cesar can drive you nuts sometimes, but are you in a rush to trade a .285 hitter in a market where you won’t get a massive package back? Sure, you’re looking forward and seeing a team with Bohm at third, Kingery moving back to his “home” at second, and Adam Haseley and/or Mickey Moniak sliding into your outfield and you’re excited, but this group is really not too bad. Next season you’ll get Andrew McCutchen back too, which should really help. Even Brad Miller and Sean Rodriguez have done respectable jobs from the bench. About the only complaint you could have is that Roman Quinn, Nick Williams, and Aaron Altherr have all been terrible offensively as fourth outfielders. Andrew Knapp isn’t swinging a great bat, but this is what true back-up catchers give you.

All of that leads to the bullpen. Hector Neris has been mostly great as a closer. The problem has been behind him. David Robertson, Pat Neshek, Tommy Hunter, and Seranthony Dominguez have all missed substantial chunks of the season, weakening the 8th inning. Victor Arano has been hurt, Edubray Ramos has stunk, and Juan Nicasio and Jose Alvarez have been exposed when pushed into bigger roles.

Can a team with less than five big league starters and a busted bullpen hold it’s position as a playoff team. They’re certainly capable, it’s possible. I would give them less than a coin flip’s chance though. They need to pick up some pitching, and based on the state of the system, pitching they can keep beyond this season. I’m not sure they should overpay for it though. Mortgaging the whole future for anything less than a home run doesn’t make sense for such a flawed team.

The Phillies and the Mirror

As June began, the Phillies were three games up on the Braves and ten games up on the Nationals. Today is July 5th, and the Phillies are 6.5 games back of the Braves and a half game behind the Nationals. One could essentially argue the Phillies season could be split right at the point Andrew McCutchen tore his ACL, pre and post, but it would not be fair to blame that for even most things that are wrong. This team’s flaws are deep, and they are not simply any single dramatic move away from being fixed.

The offense certainly doesn’t deserve even the bulk of the blame for this team’s struggles, but it can’t be absolved either. Bryce Harper is on pace to set a career high in RBIs, hit close to 30 homers, and post about a 4 WAR season, and yet you can argue they needed more. The season has been quite streaky for Jean Segura and Cesar Hernandez, while JT Realmuto has been steadily good, but not great. Odubel Herrera’s poor play and personal issues, and the persistent struggles of Maikel Franco have done a number on this line-up’s consistency. McCutchen and his replacement Jay Bruce have been steady surprises. Rhys Hoskins is on pace to post a 35 homer, 100 plus RBI, north of 4 WAR season. And yet with all of this, the offense is disappointing. John Mallee seems to just be getting an adequate performance from a line-up expected to dominate. Many players are not meeting their norms. The bench lacks depth. In fact, if you remove Scott Kingery’s breakthrough season, the offense is disappointing. How does Mallee have his job?

The Phillies do not have a major league starting pitching staff, and their bullpen has had more talent on the injured list than throwing in the seventh and eighth innings. Aaron Nola is rounding into ace form, in July. Zach Eflin has shown himself, last night not withstanding, to be a solid mid-rotation starter. Jake Arrieta is basically a $25 million innings eater at this point. Vince Velasquez is not a Major League starter. Nick Pivetta shows flashes, but the start that got him demoted and the 7.33 ERA over his last four starts suggests he needs a bullpen look soon. Post injuries Jerad Eickhoff just doesn’t locate his fastball or get his curveball below the bat enough. None of the highly successful AAA arms look capable. Robertson, Neshek, Morgan, Hunter, and Dominguez, all key parts to the bullpen, have missed significant time. That’s caused Nicasio, Alvarez, Ramos, and others to be exposed as incapable of high leverage seventh and eighth inning appearances. The Phillies let 2018 pitching coach Rick Kranitz walk to Atlanta in the off-season, giving the job to Chris Young. Young said the rotation’s young guys would be fine with him. It’s hard to defend the job he’s done.

All of the falls together on Gabe Kapler. His coaches are his coaches. The team has had several instances where players didn’t hustle, a Kapler issue. The team refuses to play “small ball” at all, a Kapler issue. The team hit an awful swoon last August and September, and collapsed. This June they hit another slide they have yet to really emerge from. Kapler has yet to show he can fix the flaws of his team. It’s hard to defend him, given the influx of talent he received.

And if the Phillies want to go be buyers to fix their problems, what would they even offer? The prospect pool is pretty shallow. Just two of their prospects appear in MLB’s top 100. Trading out of their top 5 is likely to do serious harm to the 2020 team, given their current levels. The AAA team has fallen off a cliff, and most of the others aren’t contending for the post-season either. Just two of Matt Klentak’s draftees have made the majors so far. Two. 2016 #1 overall pick Mickey Moniak has flashed some brilliance in AA this year, but following a scorching hot June, he just went on the injured list.

The hitting is underwhelming, the pitching is hurt and bad, the coaching is questionable, and the minor leagues are bare- when do we start blaming Matt Klentak? While it’s clear that all of these things need to be fixed, do you want Klentak to even be allowed to oversee that. He hired Kapler. He traded the emerging JP Crawford. He let Kranitz go for Young. He gave money to Carlos Santana and Michael Saunders, and signed a declining Arrieta. He drafted all these guys not good enough to make it. Is Klentak and his team who you want to fix this team? The guy who thought this pitching staff was good enough? Really?

So I guess that leads all the way up- Team President Andy MacPhail, and the man who hired him, team managing partner John Middleton. The team they have has enough raw talent to be good, but clearly needs a full cleanse to put the people in place to fix it. Does it stop at adding a player or two? Replacing a coach or two? A new manager? A new front-office? Ultimately it falls on John Middleton, a man who has been willing to sign over gigantic sums of his own money to players in an effort to try and win. How far up the chain is this thing rotten? How many changes are needed? Who does he have confidence in to get things right? With all of the tough decisions awaiting, who does Middleton trust with his money, to fix this thing and put the Phillies back in the post-season?

Because let’s be serious- if this team looks in the mirror, they’re not a playoff team right now.