MacPhail & Klentak current winners on the Phillies

What?!!? You may be saying. With the Phillies currently having the worst record in baseball at 15–29, behind the San Diego Padres (17–31), how can anyone be considered a winner in this organization? Especially when they are making ZERO moves, except to shuttle middle relievers like Adam Morgan between the AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs and the major league team? Please hear me out.

I do believe that the Phillies WILL make moves. However, they will probably come around Monday, July 31 — Major League Baseball’s trade deadline. Why do we have to wait sooooo long to see prospects such as Rhys Hoskins, Roman Quinn, Jorge Alfaro, Dylan Cousins, J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams, and others? Especially with the big league club struggling so mightily, and being so hard to watch on a daily basis?

Because the closer to the trading deadline it gets, the bigger the winners MacPhail and Klentak become.

As Phillies fans, it is painful and difficult to watch this team run out starting pitchers that struggle to get through five or six innings, a bullpen that lets inherited runners score and leads evaporate, and an offense that is slumping mightily — with hits and runs scarce, and struggling in the nuances of winning baseball : advancing runners, sacrifices — things that winning teams do.

But for MacPhail and Klentak, and possibly managing partner John Middleton, they may ball up their fists and grit their teeth in frustration, but it may be to their benefit to wait before making major wholesale changes to the big club.

There is no doubt in my mind that Middleton is as competitive as they come, and wants to bring multiple World Championships to the Phillies. Being in the middle of a rebuild, this has to be frustrating to him, and he just may accelerate the timetable as losses mount. However, Klentak and MacPhail may be waiting until the trading deadline.

Why?

The Phillies were not expected to contend this season. Yes, I as well as some others, expected the team to improve and wind up with a record close to .500 (I had picked them to finish with 80 wins). I now realize that that will not occur.

But for Klentak and MacPhail, it does the team no good to start importing minor league talent until the trading deadline, despite what the Phillies fans crave. Whereas a manager has to have tunnel vision, looking only at that days current game, the current series, and the series directly ahead, the President (MacPhail) and Vice President/General Manager (Klentak) have to have a wider angle lense. Yes, they look at the current product, but also have a long range view as well. That is what may be their current mindset.

If the Phillies continue on their current trajectory, they will once again own the top pick in the draft, or a pick in the top three, and all the accoutrements that come along with it. A win for them, as they get to hopefully pair #1 pick Mickey Moniak with another top talent, to continue the rebuild. Think Sixers.

It also allows players on the current roster — Tommy Joseph, Cameron Rupp, Michael Saunders, Howie Kendrick, Daniel Nava, Joaquin Benoit, and others — a little more time to increase whatever trade value they may have. Thinking like a general manager, why sell low when — as painful and frustrating as it may be — you can wait just a little longer and hope and pray that the players on the major league roster get hot and maybe increase the return? To move them now would be diminishing the return. Saunders and Kendrick were supposed to be moved at the trade deadline, so why not hold off a little longer and see if you can eek out a little better trade? It’s not like the Phillies are in a pennant race. Klentak and MacPhail were most likely targeting the deadline for “major” moves, so it behooves them to stick to their plan, and get the most value in trades that they can. If Saunders has little to no value now, and remains the same, you cut him then. But if he can get hot, maybe just maybe, a team is intrigued enough to offer SOMETHING in return. So they wait and hope, before making changes at the deadline.

It’s also much easier to make changes to a coaching staff and remove a manager during or after a disappointing season. Pete Mackanin was appointed manager by the former regime of Ruben Amaro, Jr., Bill Giles, and David Montgomery. Mackanin has shown Klentak and MacPhail enough to warrant a contract extension a few weeks ago, when the team was hitting better, and showing more of an effort. Mackanin also cajoled the team to improve from 63 wins in 2015 to 71 wins in 2016. A pretty good feat, and by all accounts, is a manager that the players like playing for and is communicative (unlike former manager Ryan Sandberg). That being said, if the public perception is that the team is a disappointment, that a change needs to be made to have a different voice, a change for changes sake, or to freshen things up, it again plays into Klentak and MacPhail’s hands to wait. Either Mackanin works some magic to turn things around and pull the team out of their slump (justifying the contract extension), or the Phillies continue to spiral, play below average baseball, and they can easily remove him — with public support — and hire a manager of their choosing, not one that they inherited. Again, a win for Klentak and MacPhail. Either the contract extension is justified, or they get to hire a new manager and coaching staff if they so desire.

So the players at the AA and AAA level get to wait just a little bit longer, work on their offense, defense, and pitching just a little bit more (not necessarily a bad thing) as they wait for the changes at the trade deadline. Position players get to (hopefully) play every day and work out any kinks they may have (such as Jorge Alfaro working counts, walks, and calling pitches), pitchers learn how to pitch late into games, and that the prospects are mentally and physically ready to deal with the hopes and expectations that will be thrust upon them with their promotion. Can they handle the grind of being a starter at the major league level and dealing with the fans and media? The hope is that by giving them a little extra time, when the call(s) come around the deadline, they are major league ready.Again, playing to Klentak and MacPhail’s hands. If the prospects come up and play well, it will justify their patience, and the minor league instruction the prospects are receiving.

There is also the trickle down effect that Klentak has to consider. When the prospects are called up from AAA, who takes their place at the AAA level? While Jorge Alfaro may be on the verge of getting the call, is Reading starting catcher Chace Numata (currently hitting .238 with a .660 ops) ready for a promotion? The roster spot has to be filled by someone. If first baseman Rhys Hoskins is called up, is Reading first baseman Kyle Martin ( .188 avg / .659 ops / 15 BB-47 SO’s) ready for Triple A pitching? Giving those players additional time to adjust and develop would also play into their “wait until the deadline” mindset.

Now, I will say that injuries and John Middleton are the wild cards in the scenario. Middleton could very well see attendance dwindling, hear the fans voices screaming for change, and grow frustrated with the losing, and interject himself into the plan — forcing Klentak and MacPhail to speed up the timetable and make changes prior to the deadine. It is my opinion that Middleton wants to win, and win big, with the Phillies. He is extremely competitive. So are Klentak and MacPhail. But I do believe that they are trying to coax the current team to the deadline to maximize their return. Unless the atmosphere grows soo dire, and all emotion is lost in the clubhouse, Klentak and MacPhail will wait until the end of July before making moves.