WE ARE in full panic mode.
It is June, the Phillies are again the worst team in baseball, and the drumbeat is louder than ever to dispatch yesterday's stars — and by yesterday, I mean yesterday — and promote all those can't-miss guys we've been hearing about to take their place.
Can't be worse. Can it?
That depends on your definition of worse. If by worse you mean the current team's current record or outlook then, no, it can't be worse. Former first-round (and seventh overall) pick Aaron Nola, lasted only three innings on Wednesday in his sixth start of a season that was to tell us whether there were going to be any lingering effects from last summer's shutdown. He's still only 23 — he'll turn 24 on Sunday — but the guy who walked off a college mound three years ago and a season later posted a 6-2 record in 13 starts is not arcing upward. The only thing doing that is his ERA.
And all those promising arms obtained in their belated liquidation of players from their golden era? Well, it's beginning to look a little like the mid- to late '90s, when the Phillies unloaded veterans for young arms with that oh-so-dangerous word attached to them:
Any oldtimers remember Bobby Munoz? Jeff Juden? Boy, could those fellas pitch a tent at the buffet table.
Clay Buchholz, obtained in a trade with Boston to stabilize the staff, was instead its first level of destabilization. No worries, they had plenty of young arms, and plenty of young ones below in case anything happened to the ones headed up north.
Well, that was the thinking anyway.
Jake Thompson, a former second-round pick and a key piece in the Cole Hamels trade, is 2-5 with a 5.82 ERA down at Lehigh Valley. They already gave him a cup of coffee. Nope, not him. At least not now. Truth is, the best collection of arms is over in Lakewood. But it's a longer drive from there to Philadelphia than you think.
You want to send Maikel Franco down? Send Odubel Herrera with him? Bring up some of the kids? Fine. Give Rhys Hoskins some of Tommy Joseph's playing time and sit him on the bench the other times. Bring up Roman Quinn and his .274 average or Nick Williams and his .279 average. What do you do if Franco and Herrera get their act together as they have in the past? What do you do if all involved don't perform well?
Ah, we'll figure that all out. They're big boys. Their confidence won't be affected.
I love the arc of 22-year-old Tom Eshelman, a piece of the Ken Giles trade who has ascended through the minors quickly and owns a 3-0 record and a 1.40 ERA in five starts with the IronPigs. But he wasn't even on their map three months ago. Are you really so desperate to see a few victories that you would rush him up?
That's what Phillies GM Matt Klentak meant when he told CSNPhilly's Jim Salisbury on Wednesday that "'we don't have the luxury of placing 100 percent of our focus exclusively on this team."
Some have deemed that "insulting" to the fans. But would they feel that way if this discussion took place in February, in the theoretical? Wouldn't we all agree that the goal should be development, patience, building for a better day? Wouldn't we all agree, even if we thought the team would be more competitive than it is right now, that the long view was the right view?
Some recent history: The Houston Astros, currently with the best record (38-16) in baseball — and, by the way, a near-identical record to that of the IronPigs (36-16) — endured six consecutive seasons of losing baseball from 2009 through 2014, including three straight seasons of more than 100 losses. The Chicago Cubs, last season's World Series winners, had five consecutive losing seasons over roughly the same span. Once the Phillies' favorite punching bag, the Washington Nationals are amid their sixth consecutive winning season.
"We have to balance the present with the future," said Klentak, who is in Year 2 of the massive rebuild that he and team president Andy MacPhail were tasked with. "But we're not going to make a short-sighted decision to help this club at the expense of a player's development in the minor leagues. We're not going to rush a player to the big leagues. That does not make sense to us right now. I understand why a lot of people want us to do that. Trust me, I get it. But we have to take the long view."
That doesn't make the short view any prettier. Probably adds dust storms like the one we're living through now. But the reality is that we were all channeling our inner Matt Klentaks when the reality of a rebuild wasn't playing out in front of us nightly.
That he's the only one wearing that suit now doesn't change the dynamic.