You’re Gonna Need Hard Liquor to Watch This Phillies Team
The Phillies announced this week that they will now sell wine and hard liquor at home games this season, and not just at McFadden’s at the park. In related news, I don’t have enough column space to write the jokes flowing from that announcement.
You will need to drink early and often this season to stomach a Phillies team that could be as bad as any we’ve seen in these parts. With a lineup bereft of power and defense, and — after Cole Hamels — a pitching rotation that is feeble and the definition of journeyman-like, these Fightin’ Phils could lose as many as 100 games.
Build it and they will come: That has been the mantra at Citizens Bank Ballpark. Opening day will bring the people. And maybe early in the year they will still come. But a team as poor as this one eventually will sap your spirit to watch baseball. I’m betting on average attendance at this year’s Phillies games dropping below 23,000 a night and new ratings lows for Comcast Sports Net. (Just think about how many people won’t hear Ben Davis!)
The Phillies are in the process of tearing down in order to rebuild. But they are three years away from getting down to a foundation to which they can attach new girders.
It is almost impossible to be on as dead a crop of batteries as the Phillies are right now. Think about the fact that they don’t have ONE major league-ready player in their farm system. Just think about that. The Phillies have 16 baseball executives under their general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. They have two assistant general managers (Scott Proefrock and Benny Looper), two senior advisors to the general manager, three special assistants to the general manager (one of whom is the infamous Ed Wade), six directors of scouting, and about 80 scouts scattered around the country. And they haven’t been able to uncover any major league talent. Even the prospects they have traded away in the past few years haven’t become solid major leaguers.
Their incompetence crystalized this week when they dropped Philippe Aumont (the key acquisition in the Cliff Lee-to-Seattle trade several years ago), and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez (the Cuban pitcher on whom they spent a boatload of money) from their 40-man roster. Salvation for the Phillies rests right now on only two players – shortstop J.P Crawford who the Phillies hope will play his way to double-A this season and pitcher Aaron Nola, who was seasoned by three years of college ball at LSU and is expected to start the season in triple-A.
Which begs the question: What the hell are all these “baseball people” doing?
Listen, I know baseball is a little funky when it comes to who actually makes it. More than perhaps any other sport, the MLB amateur draft is indeed a crapshoot. And once you draft a kid, you can never really know which of them has the mental makeup to survive and advance. But is it too much to ask some 100 baseball people to find one player? If you gave me a bunch of frequent flier miles, I guarantee that I could find one player.
Amaro should not be allowed to be the general manager of this team right now. It’s nothing personal; it’s just business. The Phillies need a fresh approach. They need to rebuild this thing with a young, dynamic GM like a Theo Epstein or an Andrew Friedman. They need to farm out the Proefrocks and the Loopers and the Charley Kerfelds; they need to hire a whole new crop of scouts. They need to consult analytics.
Baseball is done in this town this year and it hasn’t even started yet. The mess these guys have left this fan base is nearly criminal.