It wouldn’t be a Phillies season without the typical September collapse, right?
In a rather lifeless double header, the Phillies were swept by the Marlins by scores of 2-1 and 8-1. An offense that was strong part of this team has been decimated in this series with injuries to two key players, as both Rhys Hoskins and JT Realmuto sat out the doubleheader and are scheduled to have MRIs today. With two of your top-of-the-order hitters out of the lineup, the offense only mustered two extra base hits, one in each game on Sunday, both by Alec Bohm. The first game, to add insult to injury, was an absolute dominant start by Sixto Sanchez, who the Phils traded for Realmuto.
All around, a disappointing and frustrating day for a team who seemed had turned a corner last week, winning 10 out of a 11 for the first time since 2011.
After the debacle that was the 2019 season, many fans called for the head of Gabe Kapler. Among their reasons, much of the September slide from last year fell at the feet of Kapler, who was anything but a fan favorite here since the day he was hired. The Phillies, needing to make a move after the bad finish, fired Kapler with the belief that a more experienced manager wouldn’t allow that type of finish to happen. They went out and made a big splash when they hired Joe Girardi.
Certainly a manager with the pedigree of Girardi wouldn’t allow for this team to nosedive when they need to come through most, right? Wrong.
What the 2020 season has made me realize is that the issues of this organization run much deeper than the manager position. At the root of all their issues is roster construction, and the man responsible for that is GM Matt Klentak. For a second straight year, Klentak failed to address the bullpen in the offseason, leading to a historically bad bullpen staff. While he came to his senses and made three separate trades to bring in four pitchers to help out, each of the players acquired must have drank the Phillies bullpen Kool-Aid, because they have stunk right out of the gate. Brandon Workman, Heath Hembree, David Hale and David Phelps have all look mediocre in their time donning the pinstripes, ultimately just adding to the arms already getting shelled on our roster.
While the Phillies only gave up three 19-year-old pitchers in the Phelps deal, the team gave up pieces that could be helping us right now in the other deals. In the Red Sox deal, we gave up RHPs Nick Pivetta and Connor Seabold. While Pivetta needed a change of scenery, Seabold was a nice piece to give up for two below average relievers. Seabold would be able to come up right now to fill the extra starter spots vacated by Spencer Howard and Zack Wheeler, who have fallen victim to shoulder stiffness and a nail injury, respectively. Instead, it looks like the Phillies are going to have to have three bullpen games in this crucial seven game series against the now second place Marlins. Pitchers with the ability to start in the Majors do not just grow on trees. While he may have been nothing more than a fourth starter for the Phillies, I would rather be watching him start than Jake the Snake.
Hale was acquired from the Yankees for RHP Addison Russ. Hale was designated for assignment prior to the Phillies acquiring him, but they still felt it necessary to give up Russ, who had shown a history of swing and miss stuff his entire time in the minors. I don’t think there is any doubt that Russ could have pitched as well as, if not better, than all of the pitchers acquired by the Phils. Not to mention, giving up a 25-year-old with a history of performing for a DFA’d journeyman type pitcher does not bode well for the building of a MLB roster. Now I am not saying that Russ would have lit the world on fire had you brought him up, but if you are going to trade a MLB ready arm, the return should be at least an average Major Leaguer. Sadly, David Hale is not one of those players.
The Phelps deal doesn’t look that bad from a value perspective, but his performance has been anything but good like he looked with the Brewers. Because of adding him to the roster, the Phils were forced to DFA C Deivy Grullon, which didn’t seem like a terrible thing at the time due to having JT behind the dish. Grullon, who doesn’t seem much more than a backup catcher, was claimed by Boston the very next day. Now, with Realmuto injuring his hip, the Phillies were forced to add young C Rafael Marchan to the roster, wasting an option year for a player that had only 22 games under his belt at the High-A level. Don’t get me wrong, if you haven’t heard of Marchan, you will now because the kid is a legitimate player. Due, again, to the inactivity to address the team’s clear weakness by Klentak, however, the small amount of depth you had in the upper levels of the organization is now even smaller.
At some positions, there is no upper minors depth to be seen. Of course, the last two drafts ran by Marti Wolever in 2013 and 2014 screwed this team’s upper minors depth. Klentak, however, not only used that little upper minor depth we had to acquire help in places he didn’t address in the offseason, but he paid market value for below market talent. I think the only trade I can remember working out for Klentak in his entire Phillies GM career has been the Jay Bruce move, so I guess we can say he’s won one trade.
The problems that face this organization were never going to be fixed with just a change at the managerial position. Even with Joe Girardi at the helm, this team still severely under performs when the lights are the brightest. Was Kapler the right man to take this team back to the World Series? Probably not. I don’t think his coaching style nor his personality really ever meshed with the city. Was Kapler as bad of a coach that he is consistently made out to be by the fanbase? Absolutely not. Looking at what he has done with the San Francisco Giants this season, I believe his best days are ahead of him and he’s with an organization that fits him very well.
My grandma always used to tell me, “You can’t make Chicken Noodle Soup out of chicken sh*t, Connor.”
Well, Matt Klentak has provided the Phillies’ managers with that same ingredient in the last two seasons.
Shouldn’t be a surprise we are here once again….