Philadelphia Phillies: No off-season for bad decision-making

How far will Middleton go to win the NL East? Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images.
How far will Middleton go to win the NL East? Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images. /

The Philadelphia Phillies have a plan in place to take action…with inaction.

First, the Philadelphia Phillies managed to make it to the literal last day of the hair-raising COVID season before being eliminated, despite the worst MLB bullpen in 90 years. Their fans were not surprised by the last day loss. Then, the Eagles started poorly – only a footnote to the baseball heads.

But then, Phils Managing Partner, John Middleton, spoke about his “search” for a new general manager, who was replacing a guy who hadn’t had a winning season in five years but still wasn’t fired. He was demoted, told to report to a broom closet in the basement at Citizen Bank Park.

But not fired.

On Oct. 3 Middleton opined that his search might take as much as, well, who knows how long. It seems the Managing Partner is a touchy-feely guy, and he doesn’t like Zoom interviews. This, of course, is a first in excuses for inaction in MLB history.

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The 2021 season was not off to a good start. Middleton said, “When we looked at this, when [team President] Andy [MacPhail] and I were talking about this issue, the point about COVID is we don’t know how this is going to play. We needed a guy in that job that we had enough confidence in that we could have him in there for a long time.”

This was a round-about way of defending the installation of a guy as interim GM (Ned Rice) who used to report to the guy now in the broom closet. This was because – you know – the curse of Zoom: “What I’ve discovered over the last six months is Zoom is a pretty good way to have meetings with people that you know. But when you start introducing new people to each other via Zoom calls, it’s not nearly the same thing.”

Now, Middleton is somewhat famous at this point for his hands-on, in-person approach to owning a large chunk of the Phillies, and it is widely thought that his flying to Las Vegas before the Bryce Harper signing was the right thing to do to convince him to play in Philadelphia.

Obviously, the personal touch is important in business, but is it important enough to drag your feet when hiring the pivotal manager for an organization that has, for a decade, only managed to bear down on spending money and underperforming? What do you need to do, John, smell the guy?

In the week since Middleton’s interview, about the only news about the Philadelphia Phillies has been bad, and about their historically bad bullpen. Adam Morgan, a left-hander and one of the few Phillies who sit on the other bench to pitch well in the last two years, underwent surgery Oct. 9 to repair his left elbow flexor tendon.

Minus a bad last appearance of the season in 2019, Morgan would have finished that campaign with a 3.07 ERA over 39 appearances. He is likely to miss the start of the 2021 season.

In regard to their attempt at re-signing J.T. Realmuto, the Phillies got to read an article in the New York Daily News on Oct.10 entitled, “Yankees and Mets could battle it out for J.T. Realmuto this offseason as both clubs need to fix catching woes.”

From the distance of 90 miles, or a Zoom meeting at best, presumably, writer Deesha Thosar, declared Realmuto’s potential for staying with the Phillies to be “in serious doubt.”

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If it only weren’t for those damned Zoom meetings, maybe the Philadelphia Phillies could do something about that.