Tuesday, July 02, 2013

A Tale of Two Cities of Brotherly Love

You can get a jump on Homer Bailey, but not on Father Time
In the dim and dusty corners of the baseball trade rumor market last week, there was a report that the Boston Red Sox were interested in Phillies third baseman and Iconic Texas Ranger Michael Young. However, the rumor was pretty much discounted immediately because the Phillies' GM, Ruben Amaro Jr., has said that nobody's going anywhere, that the club could still make a run, that he has to see what it looks like when the whole team is healthy, etc. etc.

Of course, this overlooks the fact that even when the team was at full strength, it wasn't that good, that considering the respective age, fragility and play style of its members the next time all these guys are likely to be healthy and on the field together is at an Old Timers' Day game, and that they're about as likely to make a run as Wile E. Coyote is to be dining on roadrunner l'orange tomorrow night. Any reasonably objective observer of the on-field product at Citizens' Bank Park these days is going to come to the inescapable conclusion that this team is simply not good enough. It's too old, it plays defense too poorly, and its big hitters largely don't hit big any more. The guy who's stuck in an 0-20 slump with 11 Ks is not the Ryan Howard of 2008. The game but gimpy second baseman who's always one checked swing away from a DL stint is not the Chase Utley of 2009. The Chooch Ruiz we've got now is pretty much the same Chooch Ruiz we had back in the day, but to be fair, he wasn't that good then. You get the idea. This team is old, expensive, and not going anywhere, and the longer Amaro waits, the greater a chance there is that Utley's going to sproinglocate his oblique frammistat, or that Crystal Papsy is going to blow another couple of games, and that all their trade value is going to evaporate.
So, for the love of God, RAJ, if anyone offers you ANYTHING for the lifelike Michael Young statue out at third base, take it. Get something back. live with a year or two of Cody Asche, and help your pitchers stop dreading ground balls to the left side. If someone offers something for Papelbon, grab it, because the last thing a team going in reverse needs is an expensive (and mouthy) closer. Even if someone offers something for Chase Utley - I know, I know, lifelong Phillie and all that, but still - grab it. Because this team is going nowhere and the farm system is bare, and clinging to the fantasy that these are still the same guys who beat the Rays in the 2008 is just going to make things worse.
Across the street, at the Wells Fargo Center, there's a GM who gets it. Sixers general manager Sam Hinkle took a look at his conference and saw LeBron and Carmelo and D-Rose. He looked at his roster and saw Jrue Holiday and Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes. And he sensibly decided that this team was going nowhere, and he razed it to the foundations. Because that was the only way the Sixers were ever going to get better, to get out of the cycle of slapping one more repair on the aging sedan because the price tag on a new ride is too scary.
Amaro hasn't come to grips with that lesson yet. And yes, it's easier to clean house when you're talking guys who haven't won anything as opposed to MVPs and World Series winners and guys who have a palpable and important history with the team. But it's a question of degree, not kind, and until Amaro figures that out, the Phillies are never seeing daylight again.
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