Phillies President David Montgomery, along with other key members of the organization, appear to finally be ready to look towards the future with the club, rather than continuing to try to milk one year out of a core that produced the greatest five-year run in team history. To look towards the future, in many senses, you have to be willing to move on from the past and/or present, which the Phillies still don’t seem keen on doing.
A day after backing Ruben Amaro’s tenure as General Manager, Montgomery spoke once again to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and didn’t seem like he had any plans of seriously considering a Chase Utley trade.
“Is that something we are prepared to do? If that’s the best thing for us, of course. Of course,” Montgomery said. “The way he plays the game and everything, I’d love for him to to be wearing that uniform 20 years from now in some capacity.
I’m not suggesting that the Phillies just give Utley away, but if he can land them a good package of prospects, or even one elite prospect, then why wouldn’t you do it? He’s a 35 year-old, who has returned to playing at an All-Star level, for a bad baseball team. A trade would allow Utley to go to a competitor, and the Phillies to potentially find a piece or pieces, towards righting their ship.
A trade also wouldn’t keep Utley from having a role down the line with the team, because not finishing your career in Philadelphia hasn’t prevented Larry Bowa from making two coaching stints with the team, or doing some post-game TV work. The same could be said for Dallas Green.
Here’s that part that annoys me, because Montgomery went on to suggest that Chase is ‘a baseball guy’ and somehow pin Jimmy Rollins, one of the top five players in team history, as someone who is not.
“Jimmy will be in music, or who knows what? But Chase is a baseball guy. I’d want Chase thinking along with us how to improve this place for the next 10 years. He brings a lot to the table.”
I mean, I guess. Neither of them being on the team, has necessarily helped the organization ‘improve the place’ over the last few seasons. While they are both having very good seasons in 2014, Rollins dealt with a well below par 2013, and Utley has had his fair share of injury issues. I’m not denying that Chase brings a lot to the table, or trying to discredit the borderline hall-of-fame career that he has had, but it’s not like if you trade him now, or at least bring the idea up to him, that he will sour on Philadelphia. It’s not like, no matter where he would go, that anyone would remember him in a uniform other than the Phillies. It certainly isn’t like trading him keeps him from returning to the organization at some point.
As for Rollins, his value to the franchise doesn’t appear to be as high.
“We’re not so stubborn and blocked in our thinking that we won’t do X,” Montgomery said. “Was it exciting to have Jimmy get all those hits for this franchise? Was it exciting when you have players like Schmidt and Rollins, who played their whole careers in one place? I think it’s exciting, and I think it’s exciting for fans. But it doesn’t happen much anymore.”
I don’t get saying Rollins spent his whole career in Philadelphia in the past tense like it’s already happened, and then alluding to the fact that you might trade him. Like Utley, I’d certainly be willing to move Rollins for the right offer, but this quote didn’t make a ton of sense to me. So you say ‘it doesn’t happen much anymore’ to bring the idea of Rollins potential exit from Philadelphia to the grips of reality, but then you want to talk about how you’d like to have 35 year-old Chase Utley, drafted and raised in the Phillies’ farm system, in the organization 10 more seasons?
Montgomery also admitted that he fears that trading off some veteran pieces would lead to a decline in attendance. While that might be true, there has been a massive drop this season because of keeping some veterans too long. If the Phillies continue to bring back the same veterans, their attendance will keep dropping. So I don’t buy into the idea that you can’t bite the bullet for a few years with some young prospects. I think attendance will likely be lower than the slightly over 30,000 per game mark that it is at now, but if you find the right bunch of young guys, they will win games and fans will show up again. The Phillies traded Jim Thome and Bobby Abreu, in favor of younger players, who ended up giving them a spike in revenue, attendance, and number of World Series titles. Will that happen if they move Utley or Rollins? I’m not sure with the current regime if that’s possible, but I know as valuable as Rollins and Utley are to the team, it isn’t happening again with them.