Written By Jason Voorhees
2019 was supposed to be the year. This was going to be the year that the Phillies franchise ended their postseason drought. After having an epic offseason in which the team acquired multiple all-star caliber players, Phillies brass claimed that the rebuild was over and that the future was now. Except they forgot one very important ingredient. And there was one major elephant in the room.
Despite adding Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Jean Segura and Andrew McCutchen, the team failed to address the starting rotation. King Klentak and company promised that Zach Efflin, Nick Pivetta and Vince Velasquez would show huge improvement and that the starting pitching would be a better than average unit.
Well, those promises were empty and the starting pitching has been a huge failure. In fact, the entire roster has been a huge disappointment thus far. The Phillies have underachieved in every facet of the game. Whether it has been their bi-polar offense that is extremely inconsistent and frustrating to watch. To the aforementioned starting rotation sans Aaron Nola, which remains in shambles. And then there is the injury plagued and ravaged bullpen that has failed to deliver time and time again.
No matter which way you turn, this team consistently fails to show any type of consistency. After dropping 2 of 3 to one of the worst teams in baseball over the weekend, it may be time to assume that this team just isn't that good. But how did we get to this point? How did a team with such promise coming into the season become a team that is holding on to a string in the wild card chase?
One could argue that there are many factors in play that could answer the question as to what ails the 2019 Phillies. But the biggest problem continues to be the lack of a starting rotation. And an even bigger problem is GM Matt Klentak's failure to acquire capable starting pitching at the trade deadline.
Sure, to say that he did nothing would be a lie. Klentak did add Jason Vargas (trade), Dan Straily (trade) and Drew Smily (free agent) as a means to bolster the rotation. He also went out and signed free agent relievers Mike Morin and Blake Parker. And finally, the team traded for outfielder Corey Dickerson.
So yes, the team did make some moves and on paper it was addition without subtraction of any premium prospects. However, these acquisitions did not move the needle in my opinion.
What these moves signified was the waving of the white towel.
This was Phillies leadership saying that what we did in the offseason was good enough and that we are good enough to win with the team we have. In other words, this is really not a playoff team and we have just been lying to the fans this entire time. This lack of aggressiveness points to one thing. This franchise did not show enough desire at the deadline to bring a winner back to Philadelphia and that my friends is very disappointing.
So much for spending stupid money. Well, one could argue that in true Philadelphia fashion, John Middleton really did back up his promise to spend stupid money. Its just not what most fans envisioned when he made those comments. David Robertson, Tommy Hunter, and Pat Neshek represent the epitome of wasting a ton of money on a broken product. Now that's what I call stupid money.
Sure, its not ownerships fault that these three key cogs of the relief corps have all been injured and not able to help the team. However, these signings do represent an indictment on the teams overall failure in talent evaluation and its lack of success in roster construction. Between the three players that is $28 million dollars on the books wasting away on the injured list.
Team President Andy Macphail came out last month and praised the teams manager and gave a vote of confidence in this teams staff. He then went on to minimize expectations saying that if the season ended today, that the team was in fact a playoff team. However, in contradictory fashion he then made it known that the team would not sacrifice the future and trade away top prospects at the deadline to acquire other players.
So which one is it Andy? Are the Phillies a playoff contender or not? If you truly believed that they are not quite ready why did you not just chose to sell some players. I tend to believe that these guys talk out of both sides of their ass when analyzing the state of the organization.
The main crux of my argument is that this team did not do enough at the deadline to improve the team and try and make a run at a wildcard. For an example of this, lets look at the New York Mets and what they did at the deadline. There were plenty of starting pitchers available at the deadline that could be a huge upgrade and boost for the staff. The Mets traded for one of those pitchers in Marcus Stroman.
They only gave up two pitching prospects that were rated #4 and #6 in their system. Now you are telling me that the Phillies could not have matched that package without giving up their top prospects Alec Bohm, Spencer Howard, or Bryson Stott. I don't believe that for a hot second. I believe that we have over rated our faith in a GM and President that just are not good when it comes to execution of its job functions.
There is no reason why the Phillies did not get better at the trade deadline. There were players that could have been had and Macfailure and Klentak instead chose to snub their nose at the fans.
Yes this team has underachieved. Yes their offense continues to be a huge disappointment on a nightly basis. Yes, Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto need to be better. Of course, the bullpen has been decimated by injuries and cannot be counted on daily. All of these things are true.
But when its all said and done, the Phillies did have a chance to improve this team. They had a chance to show this roster that they are committed to winning. And when it mattered the most, they instead chose to wave the surrender flag. It pains me to watch this team. The team appears to be uninspired and they are definitely not fun to watch. The trade deadline was crunch time and the Phillies choked.
Only time will tell where the Phillies end up this season and whether or not they make the playoffs. With 51 games left to play, the team stands at 58-53. And if the season ended today, the Phillies would in fact be tied for the second wildcard.
But in a mediocre national league, that is truly not saying much. For a team that had pennant and world series aspirations coming into the year, this would be a downright failure.
On paper, it seems that this team should remain in the hunt for a wildcard birth. However, it would not surprise me at all if they begin to falter and fall out of the chase due to their lack of consistency day in and day out.
And for this, ownership has no one to blame but themselves.
They only need to look in the mirror to see the true cause of what ails this franchise. They have failed the team and they have failed the fans. Their lack of moves at the deadline not only could doom them this season but also beyond as they could have acquired controllable assets at Starting Pitcher. The team instead chose to fold its hand and play with the deck they have.
Everyone wants to blame the manager. Gabe Kapler should be fired they say. Others blame the players and their lack of execution. Ultimately it comes down to team leadership who constructed a roster that just isn't good enough. Klentak and MaCFailure have failed to make this a winning product and Middleton needs to hold them accountable. Until that happens the Phillies will remain an unfinished product.
About Jason Voorhees
Jason resides in Norristown, PA and writes about all things sports and heavy metal music.