When the Phillies hired Matt Klentak in October of 2015 he was looked at as a breath of fresh air in this city. The Phillies former regime before him had massive flaws with scouting and player development. Matt on the other hand was this young looking, analytics using, “baseball guy.” Where the game was heading some might say. Everyone thought the change was for the best.
Fast forward four years and the Phillies haven’t made the playoffs, and they haven’t really been close. The blame for that can’t be fully on Klentak since he was left with basically nothing on the roster other than a young Aaron Nola, Ken Giles, Odubel Herrera, Cesar Hernadez and Maikel Franco. The first move he made as general manager was trading Ken Giles to the Houston Astros for Vince Velaquez, Mark Appel, Harold Arauz, Tom Eshelman, and Brett Oberholtzer. A move that four years later looks pretty blah. Klentak decided to use his analytics and to go for five players instead of one elite prospect like Kyle Tucker who was their third best prospect at the time. You can’t say this was necessarily a failed trade since Ken Giles was pretty bad after he left the Phillies. But you can say the Phillies motives in this trade were massively flawed.
Then I started to think, Matt Klentak has made a bunch of trades that don’t look that great as time goes by. Here are some examples:
JP Crawford and Carlos Santana for Jean Segura, Juan Nicasio and James Pazos
At the time: Was looked at as a great trade. Getting a legit .300 hitter, and being able to move Rhys back to first. Plus, getting some bullpen pieces. Sure!
A couple months later: Well… not as great. Carlos Santana appeared in the All Star game this year as a starter and not only that he also batted cleanup for the American League. Santana could’ve been the Phillies starting third baseman this season since they still do have a pretty massive hole there. JP Crawford has been okay. Meanwhile, Jean Segura has been fine. He’s not batting over .300, but that mostly has to do with the nagging injuries he has sustained. Juan Nicasio is hot trash, and is getting paid just under $10 million this year. Yikes
Darin Ruf and Darnell Sweeney for Howie Kendrick
At the time: Fine move. Phillies need a vet bat like Howie.
A couple months later: Howie was traded for McKenzie Mills. Why?
Franklyn Kilome for Asdrubal Cabrera
At the time: Was looked at as a pretty good move.
A couple months later: Cabrera batted .228 with an OPS under .700 as a Phillie. He also wasn’t a great locker room guy. Not good!
McKenzie Mills (makes an appearance again!) for Justin Bour
At the time: A bench bat! Not a rental either!
A couple months later: Justin Bour was so bad that the Phillies didn’t even offer him arbitration. He had an OPS of .643 as a Phillie. Lol
I also hate to be this guy, but after the first week of Jay Bruce that move has been pretty meh.
So now after going through that depression, I began to think about who is Matt Klentak really is. He worked for the Rockies in 2003 to around 2005. He was then the Director of Baseball Operations for the Orioles under Andy MacPhail from 2008-2011. Then in 2011 he was hired as the assistant GM for the Angels until 2015 where the Phillies gave him the GM job. All of those teams I just mentioned were never “good” they were actually pretty bad. That of course isn’t Matt Klentak’s fault, but this is the guys career log after all not anyone else’s.
I looked at the drafts he was apart of as assistant GM with the Angels for four years, the only major league player they drafted with Klentak on the staff was Sean Newcomb…
Every team Matt Klentak worked for has had abysmal pitching staffs.
Every team Matt Klentak worked for has had brutally awful farm systems.
So then I ask: Is Matt Klentak a good baseball guy? It feels like every player the guy has signed has sustained an injury other than I guess Bryce Harper (I knocked on wood as I typed this). Is that bad luck or is he looking at the wrong things in free agency?
Not putting a buyout in Jake Arrieta’s contract for next year might come back to haunt him. Signing a 34 year-old David Robertson might do the same. This is why the Phillies are bad. The pitching has never been there. Aside from Aaron Nola, the team doesn’t really have another starter. They have a journeyman Drew Smyly, a 40 year-old Jason Vargas, and bone spurs Jake Arrieta as their second, third and fourth best starters in the rotation.
That’s not what winning organizations do. So now I have come to the conclusion that the Phillies will never be a legit contending baseball team until upper management is changed. Matt Klentak is a fake analytics user and more importantly a bad baseball guy.
Sorry not sorry
(Photo Credits: The Athletic’s Matt Gelb)
Currently a junior at Penn State. Broadcast Journalism Major. Processor enthusiast, Carson Wentz is my dad.