Losing three of four to the Miami Marlins places the Philadelphia Phillies at a significant juncture. This is a franchise that believed the window of opportunity to chase another Commissioner’s Trophy remained open, at least for one more year. While fans appeared split on the odds of the Philadelphia Phillies competing for a National League East division crown (let alone a World Series), one thing is certain: The near future is bleak.
This club’s watershed moment came in the top of the third inning Sunday when Marlins shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria mashed a grand slam to right field. While the dinger had to be reviewed, the decision was already made for starting pitcher Roy Halladay. His day was done. The Marlins were up nine runs to none, and Halladay was assaulted with boos while he walked off the diamond.
It has been a deceptive season for the Philadelphia Phillies organization thus far. Prior to the Marlins series, Philadelphia was within arms length of the NL East division leading Atlanta Braves. They were also a good series away from catching the Washington Nationals. However, poor performances at the plate one night, followed by shellackings on others has led many to question the decision making within the Phillies’ front office.
To put it bluntly, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is officially on the hot seat. His superiors may not feel the heat emanating from the GM, but the fan base is kindling the flames. With the third highest payroll in Major League Baseball, those who have enshrined the Philly Phanatic demand for more.
For example, the disappointment radiating from first baseman Ryan Howard has been a catalyst for angry fans. For a 33-year-old slugger, his production has not been terrible. It’s Howard’s $125 million contract, which will likely keep him in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform until his age-37 season, that angers fans. At $25 million per year, not many people suggested Howard’s contract was a good deal for the Phillies organization when it was signed in 2010. Needless to say, the Philadelphia Phillies are stuck with Howard’s diminishing power and contact rate. If anything has turned out to be a fiasco, it was Amaro’s handling of Howard.
The Howard deal would prove to be one fumble among many by Amaro, though. From turning an average farm system into one of baseball’s worst while sucking the revenue supply dry with long-term deals that apparently will cripple the clubhouse in the near-term, Amaro can’t be taken seriously.
His ability to maneuver deals in order to create more substance in the Philadelphia Phillies lineup has vanished.
For instance, when Amaro shipped a solid young starting pitcher in Vance Worley (along with a decent prospect in Trevor May) to the Minnesota Twins for Ben Revere, fans gasped for air. Put simply, Revere doesn’t even have warning track power. He has never hit a home run in his MLB career. He also boasts one of the highest groundball rates for a hitter. While his speed and defensive range is impressive, Revere’s arm severely limits his ability to make an assist from the outfield.
In one short month, Revere has materialized into an eight-hole hitter struggling to stay above the Mendoza Line. He is also tied for 10th in double plays grounded into, sitting just four back from MLB leader and teammate Michael Young.
The Philadelphia Phillies have become a sinking ship. Unfortunately, those in the front office are oblivious to the fact the ship is sinking. They are still holding onto the rails hoping for a positive outcome while the passengers jump overboard with life vests. Those passengers are the fans. The same fans who ended the 257-game sellout streak last August. These are the same fans who are making Citizen’s Bank Park look like the Oakland Coliseum — a barren wasteland.
When fans harassed Halladay Sunday, they weren’t just booing the former ace. Rather, the boos were a warning to the front office. More specifically, they were threats toward Amaro. Even if it costs the Philadelphia Phillies winning seasons in the next two to three seasons, it is time to move in a different direction.