Last fall, Phillies owner, John Middleton sat in a crowded conference room and expressed his disgruntlement with back to back September collapses under then manager, Gabe Kapler. Middleton called the collapses ‘unacceptable’ and said it played a large part in the Phillies moving on to search for another manager. The Phils front office decided to replace Kapler with Joe Girardi. As a manager, Girardi was a savvy vet, with plenty of experience and World Series ring.
Fast forward almost a year later, a lot has changed in the world. That press conference Middleton would, would have to be over Zoom. The Phillies played their season in front of nothing but cardboard cutouts. But one thing remained the same: another September collapse that left the Phillies on the outside of the playoffs looking in.
So, the Phillies fired their manager last year and the following season yielded the same result. In Philly, we have spent plenty of time clamoring about getting rid of the coach, the manager, whoever may be the face of the team. They are the chef that stirs the pot. But what if the chef doesn’t matter, because the restaurant keeps giving them horrible ingredients?
We keep getting mad at the coach because that is the face we see after each and every painstaking loss. But if the Phillies collapse for a third straight year has taught us anything, point your anger and vitriol a step higher to the front offices who are making the decisions on personnel. And every front office in this city seems to have the same dumb idea for how to run a franchise.
Spend big to cover flaws. Bypass growing organically in the draft. Sacrifice draft picks for veterans. Worry about salary cap issues down the line.
Oh, and apparently draft poorly too.
When the hell has a team ever developed a championship caliber roster like that?
Let’s look at the Philies one HUGE organizational flaw, because the other teams in this city seem to have more than one systemic problem. In the 5th inning of Saturday’s game against the Rays, reliever Pete Fairbanks for Tampa Bay gave up a home run to the Phils. It was the first extra base hit he surrendered that season…in Game 59. In that same game, Joe Girardi threw Zack Wheeler out in the 8th at 115 pitches because he was afraid to use his bullpen. Tampa Bay has spent years loading up on young arms through the draft and Rule 5 draft. The Rays won the AL East with 28th highest payroll in baseball. The Phillies have the 7th highest payroll in baseball, their season is over.
The Phillies have sucked for 9 years. Which means during this near decade long playoff drought, they have been drafting high. Aside from Connor Brogdon and Jojo Romero, they have no legitimate potential relievers in what is a pretty barren farm system overall. So what do you do when you can’t draft, you overcompensate in free agency.
While you can’t blame them in any way for spending big on the likes of Bryce Harper, look at some of the other veteran free agency signings they’ve fallen victim to. They signed Carlos Santana. To do so, they sacrificed a second round pick. Santana was back on the Indians a year later. The Phillies had a losing record during his tenure with the team.
You can’t stick a piece of tape over a leak and assume it’ll then be fixed. It doesn’t stop the source of the leak, the tape just provides a temporary solution to a much larger, more drawn out problem.
Therein lies the failure of the Matt Klentak era. He was given nearly unlimited resources for a team that had been historically bad. Instead of taking the time to grow it organically, he rushed to spend resources, costing him picks in the process, and never developed a farm system that could have benefited him long past the time a contract for Jake Arrieta would expire.
The same could be said for the Sixers, who stopped caring about draft picks almost seemingly to stick it to Sam Hinkie. They get the shortest quip in the post because they could quite possibly be the worst run organization in professional sports. It would take ages to detail their organizational errors. They now sit in NBA purgatory with expensive contracts that they will have to beg teams to take on. They have become the exact team the process hoped to avoid. They are at the salary cap ceiling and not a single win in the playoffs to show for it.
And lastly the Eagles, because the wounds are still so fresh. The draft day nightmares have finally come back to haunt them. There was always going to come a day when the Super Bowl core nucleus would need to be reloaded with upcoming talent. The Eagles never did it. They have a total of 5 starters (6 if Reagor wasn’t hurt) from the 2017 draft on, that are included on the roster today. One of those players is Nate Gerry.
They squandered a second round pick on a gimmick back-up quarterback. It isn’t even the biggest atrocity of the second round for this team in recent years considering the JJAW over DK Metcalf decision.
All of the Eagles draft shortcomings have trickle down effects. The Eagles take Arcega-Whiteside over Metcalf. The following year, they are so desperate for a receiver, they HAVE to take one in Jalen Reagor. Linebacker, Patrick Queen is still on the board. He now leads the Ravens in tackles so far this season.
And Jalen Reagor could turn out to be a great player, but you can see which scenario would be better for them today. Just like how Darius Slay was a great acquisition. But the reason he is here is because in the 2017 draft you took Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas. Neither are with the team by year four. So you use two more draft picks to get Slay, and extend his pricy contract.
You can be mad at the star player of these Philly teams and you can be mad at the coach. But you should aim your anger higher. These teams are run poorly and they are being run with a strategy that has never worked in sports. If we learned anything from the Phillies 60 game sprint collapse at the finish line it’s this: the chef making the meal doesn’t matter, when the ingredients he’s being given by the restaurant are piss poor.