After a disaster of a spring in which their organization was exposed as liars about the Chase Utley injury situation, the Phillies' season finally gets underway this week. Let's just say I'm not optimistic.
As the team has continued to get older and less effective, the Phillies- owing once again to their legendary cheapness- filled almost none of their holes. If you throw out the Jonathan Papelbon contract and the signing of a pushing-50 Jim Thome, the team added no impact players at all.
At the same time, they let go of such indispensable players as Raul Ibanez, Ryan Madson, Roy Oswalt and (worst of all) Wilson Valdez. The team rewarded Jimmy Rollins' constant loafing with a new three-year deal and of course, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are both months away from returning. And worst of all, Charlie Manuel- who costs the Phillies at least 15 wins per year with his boneheaded moves- is still the skipper.
We all know the team can't score runs, but if you ask me, I'm more worried about the pitching. Roy Halladay looked like a shell of himself this spring, and it wouldn't surprise me if Cliff Lee, like Mitch Williams before him, had his career forever ruined by one postseason failure. Cole Hamels still hasn't re-signed- that's your cheap ownership in action again- and with the recent $2 billion sale he's as good as gone to the Dodgers after this season. It'll be up to Vance Worley to carry the rotation, with an assist from Kyle Kendrick.
That said, they'll probably still win the NL East. And shame on every national writer who picked the Braves or Marlins- that's just the usual anti-Philly media bias in action.
Now, a few words about Utley: Ruben Amaro and the rest of the Phillies brain trust lied, over and over again, about his injury, churning out regular propaganda to the fans all offseason long that everything was hunky-dory. Utley lied to the team, the team lied to Utley, and they both lied to the fans. In the meantime, Amaro even traded natural replacement Valdez, who if you ask me was the team's MVP in 2011. I mean, how many Phillies won games with both their arm and their bat last year? Wilson Valdez is NOT a player who can be easily replaced.
I'm so sick of the Phillies not being transparent about injuries. They should post every player's full, updated medical information on the team website every day, complete with X-rays and blood, urine, semen and stool samples. And I don't want to hear about right to medical privacy. We pay their salaries, we have a right to know EXACTLY how Chase's knee is feeling today.
The truth is, Utley has always been an aloof jerk, and in Philly, that just doesn't cut it. I mean, in eight years on the team, when has Utley ever said anything memorable? In fact, I think we all know Chase's lack of vocal leadership is a big part of the reason the Phillies have only won one championship.
The Phillies should just release both Howard and Utley right now. Sure, they'd have to eat more than $160 million. But the owners can afford it- do they think we forgot about John Middleton's cigar money? Think of the message it would send- that lying about injuries isn't acceptable. Not in this town.
Other Philly sports takes:
- Sure, it's nice that the Eagles signed DeMeco Ryans. But last I checked they needed three linebackers, not one. Not good enough.
- Meanwhile, you ask me, the Jason Peters injury is completely on Andy Reid. The Eagles should have seen it coming and prepared accordingly in free agency. Now they're minus a left tackle, and if you believe Sandra Bullock, that's the most important position on the field.
- Donovan McNabb made more shocking and outrageous comments this week, while appearing on ESPN's "First Take." He proclaimed himself the most unfairly criticized quarterback in league history- which is true if you subtract the "un." But the worst part of all was that he spent two whole days bashing Mike Shanahan, but left Andy Reid alone completely. No wonder Eagles fans can't stand the guy.
- Did you read that Philadelphia magazine oral history of the 1993 Phillies? I think it really showed the disconnect between this year's Phillies and the fans. Is there anyone on the 2012 team who is fat, long-haired, unshaven, or known for prodigious drinking or chain-smoking? Of course not. I also loved the 1993 team's blue-collar touches, especially John Kruk always returning from road trips to New York in a chartered limo.
- The only problem with the article- why no quotes from Lenny Dykstra? You'd think they'd have at least tried to get him on the phone.
-It was refreshing to see Peter Laviollette challenge the opposing bench at the end of Sunday's Flyers-Pens game. Why doesn't Charlie Manuel ever do that?