As we seem to still be a long way off from playing baseball, it’s worthwhile to reflect on what that means for executives like Philadelphia Phillies GM Matt Klentak.
If you’re like me, you were getting used to the idea of Matt Klentak possibly being the right guy for the job, especially after he executed his “objectively excellent offseason” leading up to the 2019 campaign by bringing in a slew of all-stars to take the field for the Philadelphia Phillies.
But after yet another year that didn’t produce a playoff appearance, people soured really quickly on Klentak, and he was thought to be on the hot seat entering this year even after the Phillies announced during the 2019 season that his contract had been extended. After all, job security doesn’t really exist in sports.
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Now, however, if this 2020 MLB season never gets off the ground, or if it ends up being an altered novelty like it currently seems ticketed for, Klentak will receive an automatic reprieve. He’ll once again be this team’s general manager in 2021; you can book it. And the same goes for Andy MacPhail returning as team president, even though I’ve yet to see any kind of proof of him helping the organization one bit.
As I wrote a few weeks ago (it seems like years already) when league stoppages first happened, the 76ers can’t move on from head coach Brett Brown without admitting how badly they’ve screwed things up. And the Phillies are surely in the same boat with Klentak.
Maybe that’s a good thing, if you’re the type who still believes in the team he’s built, especially now that they have a capable manager. But keep in mind that Klentak was fully on board with Gabe Kapler, and we’d all still be covered in coconut oil if he got his way rather than being overruled by owner John Middleton.
The point is, even the most optimistic of Phillies fans didn’t expect the team to be more than a wild card contender at best this year, something that should fall at the feet of the general manager who put the team together. And yes, the players have to produce too, but it’s not like the Phils can fire them if the team was only .500-ish AGAIN this year.
Even though Klentak has two more years remaining on his deal, the 2020 season shaped up as a vital one for his long-term prospects in this town. And now it seems that, thanks to this uniquely undesirable situation, he’s off the hook. The only exception would be if MLB plays an abbreviated season and the Phillies are so unexpectedly terrible that Middleton’s hand is basically forced to make a move. And even then, I don’t expect teams to make big decisions based on such a small sample size in a season that could amount to essentially a glorified exhibition just so we all have something to watch.
So, love it or leave it, the predicament we’re in has all but guaranteed that Matt Klentak will be the GM of the Phillies into 2021. You can be fine with that if you want, but it’s just another domino to fall (or stay standing, I suppose) because of the 2020 MLB season that we may or may not get. And I for one am disappointed that he won’t be made accountable if we see another year go by without at least a winning record.