Michael/Male/26-30. Lives in United States/Pennsylvania/Wexford/Christopher Wren, speaks English. Spends 20% of daytime online. Uses a Fast (128k-512k) connection. And likes baseball /politics.
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United States, Pennsylvania, Wexford, Christopher Wren, English, Michael, Male, 26-30, baseball , politics.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Wait 'til 2008? 

Sunday and Monday Pat Gillick drew the Phillies 2006 campaign to a close by dealing Rheal Cormier, Sal Fasano, Cory Lidle, Bobby Abreu and David Bell. What did the Phillies get in return for dealing a starting pitcher, an All-Star outfielder, their backup catcher and one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball? Not a lot, though I think that Matt Smith might make a good middle reliever in the coming days. Afterwards Gillick justified his decisions by arguing that the team, as currently constituted, could not win. I agree. They needed to ditch Bobby Abreu's $15 million dollar salary to have any shot at competing in 2007.

Gillick then went on to throw a wet blanket over the 2007 season, stating that he was aiming on the Phillies competing again in 2008. 2008?
This all bring up a good question: does this team have any hope? Or should we all just quit bothering to pay attention to these guys?

I am the eternal pessimist about things, so it is odd that I am always playing the role of optimist when it comes to the Phillies. Most Phillies fans are pessimists: 100+ years and one World Series will do that. Add in the chronic inability of the Sixers, Flyers and Eagles to mount the championship summit and you can get a feeling for why Philly sports fans are eternal pessimists. Toss Pat Gillick into the mix of people who think the Phillies are doomed. I think that’s defeatest talk poisoning the team. This team can win in 2007.

Simply put, the Phillies have a pretty decent core of young players. Cole Hamels will be 23 next year. Chase Utley will be 28. Ryan Howard will be 27. Ryan Madson will be 26. Jimmy Rollins will be 28. There is a core of players there who are still young, all under the age of 30, and all have significant playing time in the major leagues. It isn’t as if the Phillies are going to need a year for these guys to get experience and start playing to their potential. Utley and Howard are already All-Stars. Cole Hamels is winning the respect of nearly every major league team he sees for his stuff. J.Roll has been a starter for six years. Ryan Madson, despite his struggles, has good stuff as well. And maybe Gavin Floyd, who will be 24 next year, can reclamate his career in 2007. I think the Phillies have the potential for a good rotation, and have real sluggers in the lineup too with Utley, Howard and the oft-maligned Pat Burrell, who will be the old man at 30 next year. Utley, Howard and Burrell have combined thus far this season to hit 71 home runs, 57 doubles and have a .552 slugging percentage. This team has talent.

Who will join the team? The Phillies two off-season priorities must be a new third baseman and a new catcher. If the Phils resign David Dellucci, who hit 29 home runs for the Texas Rangers in 2005, keep Shane Victorino as insurance for Pat Burrell and replace David Bell and Mike Lieberthal at third and catcher, two moves that I refuse to believe will be difficult for Gillick to make, I think the Phillies have the horses to contend again. Remember, they play in a very unpredictable division. Who would have expected the Marlins to contend so soon after their 2005 fire sale?

Which brings up a good point. The NL East might be a lot weaker in 2007. The Nats? They are doomed to mediocrity. Move along. The Mets might win the World Series this year and they might have a future Hall of Famer in Carlos Beltran in their lineup, but their pitching staff is going to gray in 2007 and will be an achillies heel. The Braves are a team lurching towards a decline as John Schuerholz wonders why his team is no longer “Built to Win”. The Fishstripes are unpredictable to the extreme. I think the new Wiz Kids of 2007 can compete.

I don’t really think that Pat Gillick has a good grasp on what it is going to take for the Phillies to win. I don’t think Gillick has his finger on the pulse of fandom either. Gillick’s biggest successes as a G.M. came while he was the G.M. of the Seattle Mariners and the Toronto Blue Jays. Not to over generalize, but Toronto and Seattle are two laid-back, calm cities with a very white-collar fan base. Philadelphia is gritty, intense, blue-collar and the fans are the team's toughest critics. I don’t think Gillick realizes that the fans in Philly aren’t patient about waiting for the Phillies to make a move. The 2003-2006 time-period was supposed to be the team’s shot at playing for their next World Series ring. Instead, the Phillies struggled to get to the 90-win plateau and seem destined to enter 2007 as one of just three NL teams that have failed to make the playoffs since the strike of 1994.

If anyone deserves blame for the Phillies current state it is Gillick: this team has declined in terms of talent from the team Ed Wade built and none of the moves Gillick has been making have paid off. Dealing Vicente Padilla? He’s pitching well in Texas and the Phillies cut the player we got for him. Jim Thome is having a great year in Chicago while Aaron Rowand continues to jam up the Phillies lineup with shoddy defense and poor hitting. The team designated Ryan Franklin for assignment after realizing that he was a terrible fit for Citizens Bank Ballpark. With each deal Pat Gillick has gotten fleeced. Maybe Gillick doesn’t want to admit it, but he’s doesn’t have the golden touch anymore.

The fans don't deserve to be told that their team can't compete. It can. By declaring the 2007 season as one being devoted to rebuilding, Pat Gillick has dispirited Phillies fans everywhere and has given people serious doubts about the future direction of this franchise.

Wait ‘til ’08? Absolutely not. We can win now. Let’s get it done.

I wouldn't say Gillick is the worst trader going - but he is startlingly inconsistent. The Germano trade seemed pretty solid and couldn't be faulted. Getting Delluci for tejeda was good busines - whether he can be kept after his treatment here is another thing. Part of the thome trade, Daniel Haigwood, was traded for castro who is young, certainly, but looked to have some nice pitches. Gio Gonzalez, the other part, continues to tick over nicely in the farm system. If the abreu trade had finished off his business this year, I would have graded him worse, but apart from his bit-part free agents in the offseason, he has pushed hard for young kids everywhere, which I can't fault.

It's how he's appraising the young kids which has me worried. Germano seems a sensible prospect - low hr/9, reasonable whip in the minors - all good. Then you look at the lad henry, supposedly a 1st round draft pick, with sub-300 obp. Horrible.
Gillick's trades need some time to be evaluated. His moves this offseason were mostly dictated by the fact that a team that was never built to win had a number of contracts that completely maxed out the budet he was given. He had to start dumping the guys he dumped to not only create the kind of flexibility he really needs to make impact deals/signings and to change the perennial underachieving lazy attitude of this team.
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