Let’s take a trip in the “Way Back Machine”. Oh, say, 4 months or so. The Phils were in first place in the East and things were playing out (mostly) as expected. Skip ahead and here we are with one week left in the MLB season and the Phils find themselves in 4th place in the East (15.5 games back of the Braves) and 6 games out of the Wild Card. I’m not going to recount the debacle that took place in Cleveland this weekend because no one cares to relive it. I’m not going to call out how GOD AWFUL the defense in the last week. I’m not going to call out how Adam Haseley (.333) and Bryce Harper (.350) are the only players who hit above .267 this week. I’m not here to point out how the management revised their rotation to get Aaron Nola as many starts as possible, then lost 6 of those starts in a row. OK, maybe I’m here to point out a few of those things but mostly I’m here to point out that this team absolutely QUIT, with just a few exceptions and how it comes from the top down.
Yes, injuries played a role for sure (didn’t hurt those guys up in the Bronx though, did it). This was more than injuries. This was a leadership brain trust who said OUT LOUD that it didn’t matter if they didn’t make the playoffs (see MacPhail, Andy). This was poor decision making (see: Klentak, Matt). This was poor player evaluation (see: entire Front Office). This was egregious game management (see: Kapler, Gabe).
I’m probably a week early on this article as it’s more of an end of season moratorium than a weekly recap but this season, despite the fact that they have mathematically been in the race, has been over for weeks….maybe longer. Falling from 1st to 4th place is unacceptable for a team supposedly committed to winning. This entire leadership structure is doomed to fail. Despite some of the deepest pockets in baseball, they don’t know how to evaluate talent. They know “what the numbers say” and act accordingly. The #’s to me said they failed. They have no established pitching depth. They have no “sure thing” prospects waiting in the wings. They have multiple decisions to make as far as the 2020 roster and an informal poll (read: me) shows a 0% confidence rating that they can fill the wholes correctly. I could list all of the decisions but my fingers would hurt. Most of them are pretty glaring (find a spot for Kingery, fix the rotation AND bullpen, find out what otherworldly void Rhys Hoskins fell into).
What happens if they blow it up and fire all of the leadership? We start back at square 1, that’s what. It’s a bit of a “damned if you do” situation. If you haven’t figured it out in the last 2 years (I may have mentioned it once or twice), I don’t like Kapler. I don’t believe he’s a qualified MLB manager. The process needs to start there. He needs to go and if upper management can’t find someone who can make a baseball decision without a spreadsheet, then they have to be next.
The Phils play 5 games in Washington this week followed by their final 3 games at home against the Marlins who have owned them this year. They have found themselves just hoping to a) play spoiler and b) try to finish with a winning record which is about 180 degrees off of pre-season plans.
Phils fans will probably fill Citizens Bank Park this weekend. This will not be a sign of belief or appreciation. This will be a “maybe I’ll win some cool prize” stampede.
John, Andy and Matt…if you are reading this (and you aren’t)…get it right or all the cigar money in the world won’t buy your fans back.