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Monday, August 12, 2013

That the Phillies Have Played Michael Martinez in CF for the Past Four Games

tells you all you need to know.

They are not a good baseball team.

To quote Bill Parcells, who knows a little bit about excellence, "you are what your records says you are."

Who knows how good the position players are in the farm system, other than to know that by most accounts many of the good ones are far way.  Which means that some will utter the fateful line, "Mom, I'm coming home.  They're throwing curves."

Martinez is not a good baseball player.  That it took him a long time to make it to the Majors and that the rising Nats let the Phillies grab him several years back in the Rule 5 draft ought to tell all fans something, that the Phillies are (still) trying to turn someone else's junk into their own brand of joy.  But it's just not working.  For those who remember Mike Easler, a slugger for the Pirates who didn't come up until his late twenties and then hit the cover off the ball, guys like him are few and far between.  There was a reason that Martinez took so long to make it to the Majors and there's a reason why his numbers aren't very good.  The quality of his play is what the "standard" numbers says it is -- terrible.

Let's also not get giddy about the newly re-signed Chase Utley's confidence in GM Ruben Amaro and his ability to reload the team and have it contend soon.  Utley made a business decision.  He and his wife split their time between a multi-million dollar condominium in Center City Philadelphia and San Francisco.  He's won his World Series, and he probably got a better deal from the Phillies than he might have gotten elsewhere, especially risking a blown knee or hip in the last several months of the season.  Also, it stands to reason (perhaps) that none of the West Coast teams offered enough value or were interested in him.  The Padres just aren't that good, and the Giants have foundered.  The Angels have problems, and the Dodgers already have a huge payroll.  That left the A's, but, then again, Amaro decided that he wants Utley to be a cornerstone and to teach the younger guys what it's like to be excellent and win.

Which means that if they keep shortstop Jimmy Rollins, they'll make a latter-day run of reprising the noted and very good double play combination that Detroit ran out there in the 80's and early 90's -- Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker.  But, let's also remember that that duo won one and only one World Series -- in 1984, when they helped their team get off to a 35-5 start.  They had very good careers, but no more titles.  History suggests that Rollins and Utley will have okay seasons throughout, but unless new talent helps lead the team offensively and a sad bullpen gets rebuilt, the team will not have the success that Amaro and perhaps Utley think that they will.  Then again, if you watched the press conference with Utley, his eyes were looking everywhere but at the camera or the interviewer, suggesting either a) he's just uncomfortable with the media, b) he's uncomfortable talking about himself or c) the proffered reason for re-signing -- that the Phillies can win -- isn't the real reason (which is it's convenient, a good deal, and I'd like to finish my career with one team).

The Braves are overachieving, but their core is younger and their bullpen terrific.  The Nats have greater potential than the Phillies and are one of the biggest disappointments this year.  But the future bodes better for them than it does for the Phillies -- they are younger and have many more exciting prospects than the Phillies.  And, lest anyone forget, the Phillies team than won it all in '80 was a very disappointing fourth in '79, and that was with the newly signed free agent, Pete Rose.  Which means that with a baseball version of a chiropractic realignment, the Nats could be just fine in 2014.

But Michael Martinez?  An aging core?  Hoping that Roy Halladay has something left in the tank?  A bullpen that seems bereft even if Baseball Prospectus had indicated in its yearbook that the Phillies discovered a lot of live arms in the latter half of last season.

Sorry, Charlie (and really Ruben and Dave), but the formula might just not work.  History and the numbers suggests that you're pushing a big rock up a big hill.

Michael Martinez starting four straight games in center field?

Where are Steve Jeltz and Ricky Otero?

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