Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Wading into the Deep End

Finley. Benson. Lofton. Villone. Hernandez.

The names blur together in the last week of July. The Phillies, potential buyers for the second year in a row, look at who's available.

Byrd. Polanco. Utley. Hamels. Floyd.

The front office gathers to determine whom they're willing and unwilling to part with in order to pry loose those key missing pieces from the sellers. It's far from easy. But as the gaps grow ever wider, the need to fill them becomes more and more pressing. Time is of the essence.

Wade? Bowa?

A change in field management is very unlikely, though in my opinion, and others', the Phillies have underachieved for more than a season-and-a-half, and at some point you have to ask whether something more than physical talent is the issue. Larry Bowa's shortcomings have been well chronicled and continue to be much despised -- deservedly. But now Ed Wade also finds himself a center of attention -- and not just from the media and the blogosphere, but from his own players as well. Wade's in-season moves over the last two years have been far less decisive and significant than what he has done in the off-season, much like a football coach who prepares his team well during the week yet suddenly grows gun-shy and ineffective at 1 o'clock Sunday afternoon. (Sound familiar, Eagles fans?) And people are starting to notice. So while not excusing Wade's profanity-drenched tirade at a reporter Sunday, Bill Conlin at least understands it:

Timing really is everything and I can identify with Ed [Wade]'s short fuse and his discomfort with the 24/7 media scrutiny suddenly engulfing his stewardship. His expensive team has underperformed and he is feeling suffocating pressure to make a major move.

Everybody has given Ed his props for capably spending the franchise-record money Dave Montgomery made available, banking -- pun intended -- that the Money Pit revenue stream would transform the Phillies into a big-market player. He got Jim Thome and David Bell because he was able to overpay. He got Kevin Millwood because his contract was too heavy and the Phils had the young catcher the Braves had to have.

But Wade has also acquired an in-season record of unfulfillment. Some very bad things have happened on his watch. J.D. Drew, who refused to sign here for reasons both financial and personal, is the most potent hitter on a rival Braves team that has overhauled the Phillies. Curt Schilling forced the 2000 deal to Arizona that left the D-backs with eventual World Series rings. Now, Schilling, who wanted to return here, is a Cy Young candidate in Boston. The Phils re-signed Millwood instead. Current MVP candidate Scott Rolen forced a 2002 trade to St. Louis after inflicting a big shiner on Wade and Montgomery, charging a lack of commitment to winning.

Drew ... Schilling ... Rolen. That's one hell of a hit for the services of a currently disabled pitcher and Placido Polanco.

Perhaps someone should remind Ed Wade that the time is now. Isn't it?

17 Comments:

At July 27, 2004 at 3:16 PM, Blogger Wyatt Earp said...

If I had a dollar for every time you said "The time is now," I would be subject to the Millionaire Tax. I fear that Wade will stand pat, and we will keep saying "What if . . . " years later.

 
At July 28, 2004 at 2:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed Wade's not the brightest general manager, but he does understand something. This is a terrible time to make a deal. If the readers of this blog don't realize how one-sided the deals are that are out there, you are all truly stupid.

I'm sure you are all going to get what you want. Wade is under immense pressure -- political pressure to do something. The best will be that the Phils will squeak into a division title with about 90 wins, get eliminated in the first round, and you'll get a thrill for about a week. It's also strongly possible that they'll get what Houston bought with Carlos Beltran -- nothing much. And then what?

 
At July 28, 2004 at 8:11 AM, Blogger Wyatt Earp said...

Wow. Mr. Friggin' Positive. Since we are all truly stupid, perhaps you can enlighten us on a daily basis.

 
At July 28, 2004 at 11:34 AM, Blogger Matt said...

Hey, anonymous, thanks for calling me stupid. I really appreciate that. Maybe if you had a brain you wold realize that what most people who read this column want to see happen is Bowa getting fired. Addition by subtraction. It's very obvious that's what the players want, as well.

 
At July 28, 2004 at 12:07 PM, Blogger Bill Liming said...

Anonymous is right about most (if not all) of the deals out there being bad ones right now.

Matt, of course, hits the nail on the head. There is one simple, non-stupid move Wade can make, fire the coaching staff. The drawback to that plan, of course, is he's the one who hired them in the first place, which doesn't say mcuh about his ability to select good replacements.

 
At July 28, 2004 at 12:59 PM, Blogger gr said...

i'm sorry i fail to see how 39-year-old finley is going to help this ball club by...getting the starters to be more consistent and solving the phils left-on-base woes. this team is a cellection of good players who aren't all that great as a unit. good, not great. you've got about 350-400 RBIs sitting in the meet of that line-up, along with 500 stikeouts. Steve Finley my ass. How about Chuck Finley too?

I don't fault the Rolen trade one bit. that guy was a miserable underachieving prick the entire time he was here. he didn't like philly, period. same with jd drew. what, all of a sudden terry francona's a hard-ass? you can't manaufacture team chemistry anf this team has the same problem. not that they don't get along, but that the parts don't fit.

Also, coffee is for closers. you call yourself a salesman you sonofabitch? you wanna work here...CLOSE!

 
At July 28, 2004 at 1:08 PM, Blogger gr said...

oh spellcheck, i shall not forsake thee in the future.

 
At July 28, 2004 at 3:14 PM, Blogger Matt said...

The leads are weak? The f**king leads are weak? You're weak!

 
At July 28, 2004 at 6:10 PM, Blogger Wyatt Earp said...

"See this watch? It cost more than your car!"

 
At July 29, 2004 at 1:17 AM, Blogger gr said...

uhhhhhh! and i don't get a moment to spare for some bust-out humanitarian down on his luck! "hey. let me buy you a pack of gum, i'll show you how to CHEW it!"

 
At July 29, 2004 at 10:25 AM, Blogger Chris said...

"What you're hired for is to 'help us.' Not to 'fuck us up.'"

 
At July 29, 2004 at 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is you're fired.

 
At July 29, 2004 at 3:28 PM, Blogger Tom said...

After today's embarrassment, Mr. Bowa can fairly said to be third place, can't he? "Whoever told you you could work with men? ... Where did you learn your trade?"

 
At July 29, 2004 at 6:02 PM, Blogger Wyatt Earp said...

Why is it that the best lines from "Glengarry" are centered entirely in the fifteen minute scene with Alec Baldwin?

"Fuck you! That's my name!"

 
At July 29, 2004 at 8:48 PM, Blogger Chris said...

"Good father? Fuck you! Go home and play with your kids!"

 
At July 29, 2004 at 11:08 PM, Blogger gr said...

shawn- oh come on, how can you deny ricky rome his day in the sun? "harriet and blah blah niborg." and "oh, oh, your nostalgia file...ok, because i don't need to eat this month."

all phils teams smell vaguely of shit...it gets so you don't mind it.

 
At July 30, 2004 at 7:49 AM, Blogger Tom said...

And I suppose what Ed Wade said to Sam Charchidi last week was like Williamson: "I am trying to run an office. Will you go to lunch?"

 

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