Philadelphia Phillies: “Hello, may I speak to Ned Rice?”

Having the best catcher in the game won't hurt the Phillies chances of signing a top moundsman. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images.
Having the best catcher in the game won't hurt the Phillies chances of signing a top moundsman. Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images. /

As we wait for free agency to begin, there is one question on the minds of Philadelphia Phillies fans – what is Ned Rice up to?

Because of political and football distractions, not to mention the World Series, Philadelphia Phillies fans may not have given much thought to a vital question they should be asking about their heroes in red pinstripes. That is, where’s Ned Rice?

The corollary question to that one is: And what’s he up to?

Wait, some are saying – who’s Ned Rice again? Right – he’s the guy who’s sort of replacing demoted general manager Matt Klentak. He’s the Phillies interim GM.

Is he down at Citizens Bank Park, working on a deal for all-world catcher J.T. Realmuto? How about a deal for this past season’s team RBI leader, Didi Gregorius?

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These are all questions producing cricket sounds. Mr. Google isn’t much help. The Phillies offices at Citizens Bank Park are apparently still closed although a call to the general front office number was answered by a real person, who politely informed me after I identified myself and this website that they “don’t transfer calls directly to the GM.” She said she could transfer me to Public Relations, and did before I could ask if she was actually at the ballpark….

I got a voice mailbox belonging to somebody who marginally mumbled his name when he recorded his greeting. I left a message, and went elsewhere to look for clues about action in regard to the Phillies pressing needs this off season.

The Phillies website was no help in regard to Realmuto. writer Todd Zolecki reported there (again) that the Phillies are “not optimistic.” His tune hasn’t changed in three and a half weeks.

As the Dodgers and Rays work through the World Series, it is now extremely clear Realmuto will become a free agent after a champion is crowned. And it seems extremely likely that he will be one for at least some time as teams try to decide how much revenue they will take in next season.

All MLB teams will be basically be shooting into the dark with those estimates, and any decision about what to pay an very accomplished player will, therefore, be an even iffier proposition than a team’s revenue estimate.

All Phillies fans and Realmuto’s teammates for the past two years can only hope that catcher will consider the team’s potential for the next several years and stop worrying about his already stated desire to make sure catchers are generally better paid.

“J.T., please! Bryce loves you! We love you! This isn’t the year to be a positional hero. You’re already wealthy. Be a hero to the underpaid Average Joes who come to see you in South Philly.”

That’s the argument – although there is some real evidence that Bryce Harper is also really, really trying hard to sell Realmuto on the idea of staying in Philly with him. As NBC Sports reported, Harper and his wife dined with Realmuto and his spouse this past Sunday at a Japanese restaurant in Las Vegas.

What was that discussion like? Kayla Harper posted a happy-looking group photo on social media that disclosed absolutely nothing except that Kayla can write a clever photo caption.

Others are only speculating at this point. One writer asserts the Dodgers would likely only sign Realmuto if they lose the World Series. He sees three other teams, not including the Phillies, as more likely suitors. At one time LA wanted Realmuto, but weren’t willing to give up Cody Bellinger for him.

Next. Considering the Phillies needs now. dark

In any event, when the Phillies call me back, I’ll be sure to ask about Gregorius as well, but basically, it appears the Philadelphia Phillies team management is hibernating. It leaves me feeling a little like documentary filmmaker Michael Moore chasing the General Motors chairman around back in ‘89 so he could ask him about closing that plant in Flint, Michigan.