The Philadelphia Phillies Rebuild: Are You Not Entertained?


Most Phillies fans are not pleased with how the season is going. The team is mired in last place, they seem to be the worst team in baseball, and things got downright ugly when they were bludgeoned by the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 19-3 on Tuesday night. Fans are outraged at the team’s performance, and many have called for the heads of Pat Gillick, Ruben Amaro, Ryne Sandberg, and just about everyone else associated with the club.

I have just one question: What did you expect?

For a couple of years now, many fans have asked – or in some cases, demanded – that the team rebuild. They were tired of seeing the team fail with expensive, older veterans, and wanted to see the team begin a rebuilding process.

Most fans didn’t realize that the rebuilding process had already begun. In fact, it started in July 2012.

I can understand the confusion. Most people hear “rebuild” and think a complete teardown, similar to what the Sixers are doing. The Phillies didn’t go to that extreme. Instead, they constructed teams that could theoretically stay competitive while the process was taking place. (Spoiler alert: They were not able to pull that off.) For more detail, click this link to read Spencer Bingol’s excellent summary of the situation.

May 14, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies interim ceo

Pat Gillick

talks with manager

Ryne Sandberg

(23) prior to a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not sure what caused them to change their approach this past offseason. It might have been because Pat Gillick has taken over as president for David Montgomery. Montgomery has reportedly been very involved with the team’s decision-making over the years, especially when it comes to how certain moves might affect ticket sales or television ratings.

It also might have been due to Cliff Lee‘s injury. With a healthy Lee, the team could conceivably work its way into the playoff picture with a few smart moves and a lot of luck. Without Lee, there was really no way that could happen.

Whatever the reason, before the season began, Gillick publicly declared that the team would not make the playoffs in 2015, and they probably wouldn’t make the playoffs again until 2017 at the earliest. In other words, the team was performing a full-scale rebuild.

Here’s a little secret about teams that do a full-scale rebuild: They tend to be bad. Maybe the team didn’t expect being 19-6 bad, but they knew that this year’s team would lose a lot of games.

The Astros – a team which has undergone a full-scale rebuild in recent years – endured three straight seasons of more than 100 losses. As a result, their fans went through three seasons like the one we’re currently enjoying. The Cubs – another team that publicly declared that they were rebuilding – are coming off five straight losing seasons, and bottomed out in 2012 with 101 losses.

Based on that history, a season like this was almost inevitable.

As we’re learning, losing seasons are awful no matter what kind of team it is. Last year, many fans cried that the losing would be easier to take if the team was losing with young, cheap players and not old, expensive players. Many fans are still saying that even though five of the eight regular position players are 28 or younger.

If they were able to trade Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Carlos Ruiz, they would likely have all eight position players be under 30. But if that happened, would anyone really be enjoying themselves more? Would this really be any more fun if Darin Ruf, Cesar Hernandez, and Cameron Rupp were the ones going 0-4 every night?

Maikel Franco. Image Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

I realize that when people said they wanted younger players, they meant GOOD young players – the type who might theoretically become solid contributors in the future. Instead, we’ve watching players with questionable futures like Cody Asche and Freddy Galvis.  Aside from Maikel Franco, it’s hard to envision any of these youngsters developing into All-Stars.

The good news is that while this appears to be rock bottom as far as the major league team is concerned, the organization as a whole is on an upswing. The overall amount of talent probably bottomed out in 2012, and the farm system appears to be in much better shape than it was a few years ago.

As far as the future of the Phillies is concerned, the events at Citizens Bank Park are probably of less importance than what’s going on in Reading and Clearwater.

Theoretically, the team will improve in the coming years, and the 2015 season will soon be nothing but an unpleasant memory. Until that day comes, and you have to endure watching the Phillies lose game after horrible game, just remember one thing: This is what you asked for.

Next: Chip Kelly Didn't Want DeMarco Murray

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