Last season Dear Leader made a decision not to cut and burn before the deadline. Instead, he saved and added — and he’s done a good job.
With a buldging payroll coasting in the vicinity of $180 million — $189 million the ceiling — he had limitations. No way was the Phillies going to be the first NL team to pay the luxury tax.
So he saved: Utley, Brown, Rollins, Chooch, Revere, Hamels, Howard, Lee, Adams, and Papelbon.
Then he added: Bryd, Burnett, Hernandez, Gwynn, and Nieves. He went with Cody Ashe at third and is sticking with him.
On the third day he rested.
He next worked on the bullpen, adding Jeff Manship and Brad Lincoln. But sometimes, it’s the trades you don’t make that become the most important. He kept the nucleus of the bullpen’s young guns — Bastardo, Hollands, Diekman, DeFratus, Rosenberg, Horst, and Garcia.
He wont‘ regret it.
Don’t get me wrong. The bullpen has the worst ERA in the NL. But it will get better and be lights out late in mid-season.
Three key players are still DL’d: Darin Ruf, Ethan Martin, and Miquel Alfredo Gonzalez. They are close to returning.
He rolled the dice and here we are: 34 games into the season, two games below .500, 16-18, with a payroll of $177.7 million. He’s got some wiggle room.
And you want to bail, now, on the 10th of May?
Be my guest.
Here’s why I’m not. Look back up at the parade photo. Pretty nice, huh? Hey, get your mind out of the gutter, I mean Chase, the club leader. We’ve got Chase — I believe in Chase Utley with my heart and soul. He’s become my favorite all time Phillies’ player, replacing Dick Allen.
I picked Allen when I was 15 years old. Why? Who knows.
The Big Piece is slowly coming around, as will D-Brown. Hamels will settle in and Ruf will improve the outfield platoon, and add some power off the bench. Maybe the Cuban right-hander, Gonzalez, will be a pleasant surprise late in the season.
Twenty-three year old Ken Giles and his 100 mph fastball was recently moved from Reading to Lehigh Valley. It could prove major in August.
Am I giving up? Hell no.