Monday, August 30, 2004

The Buck Stops There

They don't get it.

Any time you find yourself tempted to get all dreamy-eyed at the home-and-home sweeps of the Brewers, recall the home-and-home sweeps administered by the Astros. When you go .500 against mediocre teams, well, that means you're pretty damn mediocre as well. And when you throw in the talent level you started with and the juice of 40 large a night in your new ballpark, mediocre equals sucky. And that's where the Phillies are right now.

That Ed Wade didn't want to answer questions about Larry Bowa from the moment he poured his morning coffee to the moment he flossed at the end of the day every day for the next five weeks is hardly surprising. Nor is it surprising that the out Wade gave himself in the statement the Phillies released Saturday -- "As is the case at the end of every season, we will sit down at that point to review and address the status of our players, our manager and his staff." -- almost certainly means that Bowa will have a lot of time next spring to work on his golf game, as the Bucks County Courier-Times's Randy Miller noted in a scoop reported much more breathlessly than it deserved.

No, here's the kicker, from the Inquirer's Sam Carchidi Sunday:

And what about the general manager -- whose trading record, you could argue, has had a greater effect than Bowa on the Phils' underachieving season?

He's not going anywhere, Phils president David Montgomery said.

Yes, Montgomery is aware that Cory Lidle, Felix Rodriguez and Todd Jones -- three pitchers Wade acquired in deals in the last month -- took a combined 2-7 record and 6.69 ERA into last night. He said it was too early to evaluate those trades.

"You can't look at it in a narrow context," Montgomery said. "You have to look at the whole picture... and he gets great grades for the trades he made in the off-season." He said that he was disappointed, but that "there's still 20 percent of the season left. I'm in the middle of a book, and I'm not ready to close it."

Why isn't Wade part of the off-season evaluation? Has his performance been so sterling that his return is an unassailable certainty? If Bowa has been such a failure as to be fired, shouldn't the team at least look at the guy who gave him a contract extension less than a year ago? Where the hell is the accountability on this team?

The Phillies are conducting baseball operations under a model that was current about 30 years ago. They act as if the word sabermetrics refers to fencing. The blinding intensity of a single world championship in a century and a quarter of playing has lent disproportionate weight to the mindset which guided the Series-winning team; the result is an organization that listens to a guy like Dallas Green way more than it should and that believes that an unqualified manager such as Larry Bowa is an appropriate choice to lead a team solely -- solely -- because he, you know, hates to lose, and is "feisty" and "intense."

They just don't get it.


At August 30, 2004 at 2:30 PM, Blogger Steve said...

I said this on "Phanatic Phollow Up" and I'll say it here, too... I think replacing Ed Wade may be moot. Naming a new general manager will probably have no more positive effect than when Gerry Nugent took over for a deceased William Baker. I am completely convinced that the Phillies will begin to see some real turnaround when they stop playing “hero baseball” and start playing as a team. Haven’t they learned anything from the 1950 Phillies?

At August 30, 2004 at 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, I couldn't have said it better myself. Ed Wade might have a little bit in common with Gerry Nugent (a fan who wiggled his way in with sweettalk) but we're not in the middle ages baseballwise anymore.

A qualified new gm from a successful organization could only help this organization. Tom makes a nice point --they still worship at the altar of 1980. Nugent took over the team in 1932, when there was a much better team in town (albeit at the end of their second run at glory) and the Phils were permanently operating in the red under a guy that took advantage of a senile old man in order to usurp an already doomed franchise. One era really doesn't have a lot to do with the other.

Brian@ the philling station

At August 31, 2004 at 9:37 AM, Blogger Steve said...

I am all for leaving the Church of 1980 myself, but I just don't know what having a new GM will accomplish.


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