Remember when the Phillies would hit themselves back into games that were poorly pitched? Or when the pitching was dominant enough to make up for a bad hitting stretch? How about when the Phillies could sweep a team and it wouldn’t be a surprise?
Phillies fans do remember these things, which is why last season and this season have been so painful. It seems apparent that fans are going to have to get used to watching the Phillies struggle. The sooner Ruben Amaro Jr., realizes it’s time to sell rather than build the easier the pain will be to take. Everyone needs to be looked at as a movable entity because the team will not and cannot get better unless it is blown up.
June ended the same way it started for the Phillies: with lots and lots of losses. They were swept by the division rival Atlanta Braves, going outscored 22-8 during that series. There isn’t much else that Ruben needs to see after a series like that.
The season is more than half over and the Phillies are 10 games under .500. There is no sign they will make a miraculous recovery in the second half of the season. The only part of blowing up the team most Phillies fans might not like is getting rid of franchise mainstays like Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz. Those guys are the heart and soul of this team and they hold a place in every Phillies fan’s heart because of their championship season in 2008. The only member that is definitely staying from the championship team is Cole Hamels, who recently received a new contract that will keep him in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future.
Every other player needs to be let go so that the team can find some replacement players and begin the road to rebuilding.
Losing won’t necessarily help with immediate rebuilding like it does in the NBA; the only way to truly rebuild a baseball team is by building a strong farm system. The players in the farm system are the players of the future. Guys like J.P. Crawford get to play against other guys who could someday make it in Major League Baseball. The farm system helps grow young talent into MLB-ready players.
The problem with the farm system is that you do need guys with talent to grow. The Phillies have made decisions in the past to send many talented young players to other teams in exchange for guys like Roy Halladay, who made the team better instantly. This may have been a good move at the time, and the Roy Halladay move was clearly a good one, but as of right now all of those moves have caused the Phillies to have a depleted farm system.
The MLB Draft is where the Phillies are going to have to look for talent now. There can no longer be a desire to get big name players because unfortunately they wouldn’t quite help. The Phillies are a team broken beyond the repair of a few new good players. In the draft the Phillies will need to address points of weakness, like the outfield and third base, by scouting and drafting the top prospects at those positions. In the recent draft the Phillies took Aaron Nola, who is a promising young right-handed pitcher. With more hits in the draft, the rebuilding process will only get that much easier.
If the Phillies are going to look at other players to trade for, then the mindset again has to be rebuilding. No more acquiring older-but-proven guys in the MLB. This hasn’t worked for the Phillies yet, and it will only make things worse. The 2008 World Series team was a team filled with core players who came through the farm system, including the MVP of the World Series, Hamels. There will always be a player or two who didn’t quite pan out, like Domonic Brown, but that cannot discourage the front office of the Phillies to commit to rebuilding by way of young talent in the farm system.
Fans of this great ball club also have an important role to play in the rebuilding process, and that role is to keep cheering for the team. When all is said and done, moves are made to improve a team so that fans will spend their hard-earned money to watch that team. The best thing to do is use the power of spending money to influence a healthy and well-done rebuild. Fans cannot give up on a team rebuilding in the right direction; it is important to realize that rebuilding is a process that, when complete, has great benefits for both the team and the fans.