Phillies: If Theo Epstein is the target, Middleton has to step up

While most Phillies fans were hoping that they would only have to deal with Ned Rice for a little while, most experts seem to think that the search could take over a year to be completed. Since he has been majority owner, John Middleton has taken slow and methodical approaches to major decisions facing the organization.

He took until March to sign Bryce Harper, bringing a much need superstar to Philadelphia.

He took a total of 10 days to fire Gabe Kapler, getting pushback from the now former general manager Matt Klentak.

Andy McPhail, who’s the current president of the team, has stated multiple times that after his contract is up in 2021, he will be retiring from the game. Middleton may want to wait bring in a new president prior to hiring any GM. Any president that is hired would more than likely want to hire their own guy to the position, which makes it possible that Middleton is waiting for then to hire a big name to come in and be president.

Naturally, it was easy to make the connection to Theo Epstein. After 10 years as the Cubs’ top executive, Epstein seems ready to move on after his contract expires in late 2021. At only 46 years old, he is a surefire Hall of Fame executive with three World Series rings on his resume. Leading the Cubs to end the infamous 108 year title drought is a hell of a career highlight, even when you are already holder of the record for youngest GM ever hired.

Middleton would be crazy to not dial Theo up and talk shop. The Phillies, by all accounts, would be a very attractive job, as they have an owner who has shown the willingness to spend and are in a market that is arguably bigger than Chicago. Having a nucleus of Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and a young Alec Bohm is a great foundation for a team. Phillies fans may not believe it, but people will want this job.

If, however, Middleton wants to seriously lure Theo Epstein to this team, he needs to step up this offseason. While Ned Rice is wearing the interim GM tag, Middleton needs to be the one taking charge in moves they make. This will be a defining offseason in the Phillies chances at future championships, and of course, it all starts with how he handles the negotiations of JT Realmuto and Didi Gregorius. While I am well aware of how highly thought of Ned Rice is in the baseball community, he was still Klentak’s righthand man. Klentak made many mistakes during his time here, and the last thing this team needs is more of the same for the next year. Middleton needs to be more heavily involved in the day to day operations of this team to shape it how HE wants.

Middleton made some pretty telling comments about the history of poor scouting in the Phillies organization. I know he is not a baseball guy and I am not expecting him to be scouting players, but he needs to be a major voice in how the Phillies fix the holes that they have. While McPhail is the top executive for the team, I don’t think it is great practice to let the man be fully in control of the baseball operations department when he is retiring in a year.

The Phillies have almost $65 million of cap space prior before they reach the luxury tax, something Middleton has wanted to avoid until the Phillies were bonafide World Series competitors. After the on field display by the Phillies, mostly by the pitching staff, there are definitely moves to be made to upgrade this team.

When it comes down to it, Middleton is going to have to spend all of that money offseason if he wants any shot at landing Epstein.

Or keeping his fans intrigued for 2021…..

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