If your mission was to run the team into the ground, you couldn’t have done it better than Junior.
But was it entirely his fault? Maybe not all? But most of it was. His personae says that he’s cooler than Dr. Suess and knows what’s up. But the results suggest otherwise.
The 2008 championship seems like a fantasy in an old man’s dream. From a star-studded parade down Broad Street, to the near miss vs the Yankees in ’09 — to the ugly, painful, last at bat injury in the 2011 post season loss to the Cardinals.
After that, the club went to hell in a handbasket!
From the four aces, to a rotation that is so up and down it would make Belmont Hills look like a central Illinois soybean farm. They take turns getting hammered while appearing disgruntled, like the millions they are raking in isn’t enough.
From 2007 to 2011, the Phillies won the National League East Division — three of those under Junior, but let’s be fair, most of the players came from the Gillick Empire.
In my view, a few additions this season could have kept them in the hunt, but with a bulging payroll topping off at $180 million, they can hardly add a janitor to sweep out the dugout. Besides, Junior seems slow to move — except when he’s dealing out million dollar, long term contracts that boggles the mind.
After the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, Hall of Fame GM Pat Gillick retired. The Phillies then selected a blue-blue prodigy as GM: A born and raised Philadelphian — William Penn Charter High School student council leader and star athlete; bat boy for the 1980 Phillies’ World Championship team; former player; a biology major who led his Stanford University baseball team to the College World Series and whose dad is a fixture in Phillies history. His grandfather, Santos Amaro, was the “Babe Ruth of the Mexican League.” Both Junior’s father and grandfather are in the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame.
A Phillies blue-blood native son. His semblance so intriguing it would silence the drunkenness’ boo bird in the deluxe box seats at Connie Mack Stadium.
But it’s been a fall from grace!
First, two outfielders — Pat Burrell and Jason Werth — walked. What could poor Junior do? He didn’t have the money to keep them. It seemed the Phillies never replaced the power Burrell and Werth pumped into those winning teams — power that left the middle of the lineup as shallow and weak as an old head who won’t take his Viagra.
Then came the devastating injuries to Utley and Howard — both never got near their ’08 and ’09 numbers again. Their home run and RBI production dropped faster than a North Korean missile over the Sea of Japan. J-Roll and Chooch on and off the DL as the years and the 162 game-annual-marathon-body-killer seasons took its toll. Add to that list Brad Lidge and Roy Halladay cashing out.
Saddled with a team budget surpassing the GNP of a dozen nations, two solid, fan favorite outfielders had to go: Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. Plain as the nose on your face: Junior just couldn’t afford them.
But he could afford players like Delmon Young, Michael Martinez, Laynce Nix, Michael Young, Mike Adams, John McDonald, Casper Wells, Ben Revere, John Lannan…I could go on and on.
Add to that an overpaid closer with a Vladimir Putin attitude so bad Junior can’t give him away.
Meanwhile, flabbergasted and frustrated die-hard Phillies fans, loyal as the day is long — 257 straight-game-sellouts — watched the team go down the toilet.
Now Amaro — who can’t find a warm body to trade at the deadline — offered up the only significant piece left from the glory days, World Series MVP Cole Hamels. The problem was Junior wanted half a team’s Triple A can’t miss all-stars, lock, stock and barrel.
Ten minutes after the deadline, the team is left with an ace and a corral of aging has-beens that might not win again until Hillary is in her second term.
Doesn’t make sense.
Go ahead, look through Phillies history of the last five years. Then see if you could do a better job running the team into the ground.
I bet you can’t!
Everybody I talk to says it, so I might as well, too: The prodigy must go!