As we continue through this brutal July in Philadelphia with the rain falling like it’s Orlando, Florida and the air feeling like a constant sauna, Phillies fans are growing restless with this Phillies team. The frustration is well deserved. This Phillies team is collapsing for the second year in a row and a ton criticism is directed towards Gabe Kapler, the skipper of the Phillies the last two seasons.
Gabe Kapler has had his ups and certainly has had his downs in this city. The highlight so far is being booed in his first game at Citizens Bank Park last season. The boos may have seemed harsh, but that’s what Philadelphia is. If you don’t understand that by now you’re living under a rock. However; I’m not here to call for Gabe’s job or highlight anymore of his lows with the Phillies.
When Gabe took the job in October of 2017 the pressure wasn’t really that high. The team was going through a rebuild, the roster was plain and simple bad aside from a couple pieces like Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Nola, Jorge Alfaro and…………. Odubel Herrera, I guess? The farm system had some pieces at the time, but overall it was looked at as a weak system.
To fill some of the holes on the roster, Phillies general manager, Matt Klentak signed Carlos Santana, Jake Arrieta, Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek that same offseason. All of these moves looked to be good moves for the team. They needed veterans to coach up and handle the locker room for the young guys. Things were looking great. The Phillies jumped out to a hot start and the playoffs were looking like a real chance, but ultimately the team fell off big time in August and September. Blame was somewhat directed towards Gabe for losing the locker room, but the inexperience of the whole roster was a viable excuse.
The reality of the fall out in August and September for that Phillies team was all of the moves Klentak made backfired. Jake Arrieta, Carlos Santana and Tommy Hunter weren’t doing what they were supposed to do. The trio was massively overpaid compared to what they were giving the team. The “team” wasn’t a team if that makes sense. They were a bunch of players thrown together. That’s not how winning works in any sport.
The months following the fallout consisted of a bunch of the same things as last offseason. Winning with offseason moves on paper. Trading for Jean Segura, JT Realmuto and Jose Alvarez and signing Bryce Harper, Andrew McCutchen and David Robertson were looked at as huge upgrades. All these moves contributed to the Phillies having extremely high expectations as it should have done. Matt Klentak did have a pretty good offseason, but he missed something that good teams do and understand.
Sign depth. Have a legit pitching staff. Stability.
This season the Phillies have been one of the most unlucky teams in the sport. The McCutchen, Hunter, Robertson, Neshek, Arano, Kingery, Arrieta, Bruce and Segura injuries have killed the Phillies and their quest to really contend. The Phillies have so far put 18 players on the IL. Put that into prospective, the Braves have put 9 players on the IL and only one was a legit everyday player, Ender Inciarte and he has been one of the worst players in baseball this year. I also haven’t even brought up the Odubel Herrera thing.
The point? Depth is something this team doesn’t have really anywhere.
If you think Gabe Kapler is the reason for the collapse and want him fired I ask you to rethink that.
Edgar Garcia, JD Hammer, Juan Nicasio, Nick Pivetta, Vince Velasquez, Jake Arrieta (with or without bone spurs), Austin Davis, Roman Quinn, Andrew Knapp, Maikel Franco, Edubray Ramos, Jerad Eickhoff, Yacksel Rios, Cole Irvin, Enyel De Los Santos, Drew Anderson, Mitch Walding and Nick Williams are not players you can rely on. All of these players I just mentioned have been and still are being counted on to produce for this team. All these players I just mentioned are great AAAA players, not players you have on a team that wants to contend.
Gabe Kapler might be over the top, he might be annoying, but people need to understand that firing the manager doesn’t change anything. The Phillies still have their analytics team imprinted on this team, the shifting, bullpen usage, and lineups will all still be the same with or without Gabe. If you think the team needs a different voice in their ear or some motivation than are we sure these are the players we want in this city?
Shouldn’t they be motivated when they lose a 4 game lead in the division over the span of a week?
Shouldn’t they be motivated when they lose 7 games in-a-row and hear the boos from the home crowd?
Needing to fire someone to wake up and have motivation is pretty sad if you ask me.
Moving on, the Phillies need to focus on the back-end of the roster and pitching. Signing and trading for pitchers hasn’t worked out in the Phillies favor for this regime the last two years. Neshek, Hunter, Robertson, Nicasio and Arrieta have all backfired massively. Passing on acquiring Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, Cole Hamels, Mike Minor and plenty of others has crippled this team even more.
With the trade deadline approaching the Phillies have a plethora of choices at hand. Marcus Stroman, Robbie Ray, Zack Greinke, Mike Minor, and Madison Bumgarner are some of choices. They can’t still back and watch these guys go to other teams like they have been doing. The Phillies need to trade for one of these guys, and they can without giving up Alec Bohm, Bryson Stott or Spencer Howard.
The Phillies might be unlucky with these signings and injuries, but how long does it take to blame the real reason the Phillies are sinking like the Titanic? It’s Matt Klentak and Andy MacPhail. Until the Phillies move on from the master minds behind thinking Vince Velasquez and Nick Pivetta are starting pitchers the Phillies will win nothing of importance. They will be a team that strides for a wild card the next decade instead of winning pennants.
Featured Image: Sports Illustrated and Charles Fox / Staff Photographer
Currently a junior at Penn State. Broadcast Journalism Major. Processor enthusiast, Carson Wentz is my dad.