9/23/2020 : The Dynamic
The Phillies have at least temporarily played themselves out of a playoff spot by losing their last four games ... in excruciating fashion. Chances are now slim to qualify.
I’ve had my suspicions and have become subsequently aware that Bryce Harper has been playing hurt for awhile ... it’s evident when he swings the bat, the inability to plant the back foot and the need to crow hop to relieve the pain in the rib and lower back area. The production has also wavered since he’s had the issues. He does not and will not use it as an excuse ... just sayin it’s been there awhile.
JT showed his grit last night by beating out an infield grounder with an ongoing hip injury ... he’s a throwback type like Harper in regards to playing thru pain.
There are others ... all players push thru nagging pain. It’s not an excuse nor will it be used as one.
The effects of Covid have certainly had their impact on this squad ... players like Scott Kingery, Ranger Suarez, Hector Neris, Victor Arano, Tommy Hunter, etc. have all experienced the effects and ongoing physical weaknesses that the illness presents and continues to do even after tests come back negative ... stamina and body aches don’t discontinue ... I believe even Aaron Nola has been impacted. It’s not an excuse nor will it be used as one.
Other teams experienced far greater impacts of Covid ... the Miami Marlins and St Louis Cardinals in particular ... they are both likely to be in the playoffs. Both clubs dug deep into their minor league systems ( Miami had 18 MLB debuts and St Louis 13 MLB debuts this season). They had fully stocked their Alternate site player pools ...
The Influx of energy from the young players was certainly a large contribution to both the Miami and St Louis seasons but they both also have significant veteran leadership on their rosters ... Yadi Molina, Matt Carpenter and Adam Wainwright embody the “Cardinal Way” and Miguel Rojas and Jesus Aguilar never let the young Marlins wander too far from their focus on winning games.
The Phillies never completely filled their 60 man player pool ... there certainly were options to do so. They also chose to attempt to address their bullpen issues by making trades ... that obviously didn’t work. It’s my belief based on some insight that the club made significant attempts to acquire an “Impact” hurler at the trade deadline but fell short when the other club decided to not complete the transaction.
To me the issues are these.
I believe they shortchanged their minor leaguers by not fully allotting the 60 man player pool. In Spring Training there were plenty of young contributors that could have filled the energy void akin to what happened in Miami and St Louis. Having confidence and showing it in your own family of players is very important ... to me they dropped the ball this year in that regard.
I believe the role of the manager has been overstated in recent times ... I certainly admire Joe Girardi but to be blunt the in game moves have not differed significantly from those made the past two seasons. A baseball manager is predominantly a people manager first, Joe does a good job at that but I don’t think Kapler lacked in that regard ... his SF Giants team with far less talent is in the same playoff battle as our Phillies ... actually slightly ahead at this point.
Leadership ... I don’t believe the Phillies have a “spark plug” type player akin to Rollins, Victorino, Donaldson, Rojas, Molina, Daulton etc. I think they have their share of hard nosed players with Harper and Realmuto being amongst them but not the guy who grabs the clubhouse and holds them accountable. They have a group of quiet go about their business folks but lack the guy who’s the “nudge”. It’s been that way with this group for at least three years ... the closest thing to that guy was Carlos Santana and they moved on from him after one year ... it’s my understanding that Andrew Knapp is vocal and leads but it’s hard for a backup catcher to take that role. The ability to play with pressure to me is directly related to confidence which falls on players to encourage and present.
So .... what’s next 🧐🤷♂️
It’s very likely changes will be made in the front office ... to me that’s more personal than perhaps to most as I’ve gotten to know many of the folks. It’s part of professional sports though and is expected ... when teams don’t win, fans and owners get disgruntled and changes are made ...
The Players ... there also will be changes in personnel here ... likely quite a few with multiple free agents on the roster due to hit the market. There also needs to be a change in attitude and kinship ... from my perspective this group is far too standoffish in their collective approach ... as an example new players should feel more inclusive and clicks should be less numerous ... just sayin, feeling part of it is huge.
Four games left ... probably have to win at least three if not all but even then may not be enough ... opportunities aren’t often presented ... it’s a hollow feeling when they are squandered.
I will continue to watch ... now and in the future ... once the game gets in your blood and heart it never leaves regardless ...
Happy Day, Happy Baseball ⚾️ ... somewhere at least 🤓