BY JIM KELLY—Baseball is a unique sport. The highs are high, but there are some seasons that are painful to watch. Unlike in football or basketball, the draft does not have an immediate impact on team performance, and thus rebuilding can take five or six years, at least. Currently, the Phillies are at the beginning of this rebuilding stage, even though the front office seems unwilling to admit it and is attempting to salvage every last ounce of play from its aged roster. There are four major things that have gone wrong for the Phillies as of late, and I will do my best to rank them on a scale of those 400 level Phillies’ players fan clubs from back in the day.
the HUNTER PENCE TRADE
In addition to being a totally unnecessary trade, it was incredibly lopsided. We acquired Hunter Pence, a very talented, gritty player who immediately became a fan favorite, but we lost something much more valuable: a future. By sacrificing four strong prospects, the Phillies slowed down the rebuilding process—well, they brought it to a screeching halt—all for the sake of a season that ended in an early playoff bounce. They gave up Jonathan Singleton, who Baseball America currently regards as the best first-base prospect in the game. They gave up Jarred Cosart, a pitcher who could well be helping out at the back of the Phillies rotation. The gave up Domingo Santana, a raw, talented, right field prospect. And finally, they gave up Josh Zeid, an average reliever. Trading Zeid probably means nothing, as it seems as though he will never emerge as an MLB talent. But Singleton, Cosart, and Santana, are all gone. And they all could have filled roles right now for the Phillies and given them legitimate options at first base and in the bullpen. In return for these players, the Phillies received a great outfielder in his prime. Oh, and then they traded him a year later. Hope it was worth it, Rube.
A solid and well-planned fan group, but they never really had the opportunity to fully display their support because they existed at a time when the Phillies were winning constantly and CBP was sold out on a nightly basis.
It’s just…depressing. Going to CBP used to be such an exciting experience because of the atmosphere, and because being able to go to the game was a pretty rare occurrence. The problem is that now that fans have nothing to cheer for, there is no point in going to the games. There is absolutely nothing for people to look forward to. This Phillies team is going to be awful for awhile, and that’s something that we as fans will need to deal with. But it does not mean we should stop showing support for the team. Yes, many of us disagree with organizational moves that have been made. And yes, many of us really hate Ruben Amaro. But the Phillies are bigger than just one man or one season. Being a fan is a lifelong experience, and right now people seem to be forgetting how to live that experience. Attendance at games is not everything, but it is a good barometer of excitement surrounding a team. This team has zero.
RATING: BURRELL’S GIRLS
One of my personal favorites. They really had a chance to shine at the Vet and at CBP and cheer on the man that we all know and love—Pat the Bat.
the UTTER DECIMATION OF THE FARM SYSTEM
Yes, the Hunter Pence trade hurt the Phillies’ future prospects, but Ruben Amaro’s term as GM has been characterized by selling the future in order to win now. That seems like a good system—except for the fact that the team hasn’t had a winning record since 2011. Let’s take a look at the Phillies top prospects from 2010: Domonic Brown was #1. Trevor May, who was traded to the Twins two seasons ago as part of the Ben Revere deal, was #2. Anthony Gose, who was sent to the Blue Jays as part of the Roy Halladay deal, was #5. Domingo Santana, Jarred Cosart, and Jonathan Singleton, all of whom have been previously discussed, find themselves on this list at #7, #9, and #11, respectively. It may not seem like much, but the organization has sold off the Phillies future. It’s not likely that all five of these players will become stars, or even everyday players. But if just three of them had stayed with the organization, there is a chance that the Phillies would be able looking the rebuilding process in the face and actually get it moving.
RANKING: THE RANDY WOLFPACK
Gotta love a good pun. These guys were dedicated. They were at the Vet and CBP for ages and are certainly the most well-known of the fan groups. The Phillies promoted the group, and even had wolf mask giveaway days. When a member of the Wolfpack died, Randy Wolf himself actually attended the funeral.
It is simply absurd. It causes me such real, physical, emotional, and spiritual pain that Ryan Howard is the highest paid player in the game of baseball this year. Let that sink in. Think of all the amazing things that have happened in the 2014 MLB season. Then think about how Ryan Howard has been a part of none of them. And then come to terms with the fact that he is on a $26 million contract for this season. It doesn’t get much better from here. Cliff Lee is the second-highest paid MLB player, and while he is supremely talented, he certainly isn’t worth the insane $25 million he is being paid. Oh yeah, and Cole Hamels is the sixth-highest paid MLB player. Amaro just gives away money. The Phillies have made a habit out of mismanagement, and their payroll is the prime example of it.