April 10, 2017
What you are about to read may be nothing more than the mad fantasy of a Phillies fan thrilled by two memorable wins over the weekend but bracing for the inevitable fall that lies ahead.
On the other hand, this could be considered a brilliant, if obvious, one-step plan that would generate interest in a floundering franchise and set the course for an exciting future.
The Phillies need to trade for Mike Trout. They need to package some of their prized prospects and offer them to the Angels. They need to call the next day after Anaheim laughs in GM Matt Klentak’s face and make another offer. Then another. And then another.
An extraordinary opportunity awaits the Phils if they recognize it and then, by whatever means possible, make it happen. Trout is not just the best player in baseball; he is the ideal building block for a team that has been basing all of its reconstruction plans on theories and prayers.
A terrific new documentary about Trout premiered last night on the MLB Network that screamed out for action by the 25-year-old superstar’s home team. Like no young player before him, Trout is Philadelphia, by way of his beloved hometown in nearby Millville, N.J. Despite his fancy trappings on the West Coast, the kid belongs here.
Last week on my WIP radio show, I asked former player Kevin Millar of the MLB Network what he thought of my scenario. He nearly jumped through the phone. Yes, he said. Absolutely. Trout “is being wasted in Anaheim,” he explained, on a team with no present and such an empty farm system, no immediate future, either.
The Phillies have no such problem in their rejuvenated pipeline to the major leagues, with a stockpile of versatile infielders, power-hitting outfielders and first basemen, one of the top catching prospects and a slew of hard-throwing pitchers. No one can deny that the Phils have enough young talent to acquire Trout.
I know, I know. The last thing they need is to clean out their own farm system the way they did earlier in the decade during their flawed attempt to extend the success of the 2008 champions. That’s the conventional wisdom. Here’s the reality: The Phillies have a lot more very good prospects than truly great ones.
For the sale of argument, what would the Angels say if Klentak offered Odubel Herrera, J.P. Crawford and Jorge Alfaro as the foundation of a deal? Herrera, 25, would replace Trout in center field, and Crawford and Alfaro are listed among the top 100 prospects in baseball, at shortstop and catcher, respectively.
More players would be required for an agreement, of course, but the Angels would have to weigh a big package like that against getting nothing when Trout is a free agent in four years. Remember what Millar said. Trout is being wasted in Anaheim and will continue to be on a team with no immediate hope for success.
Now consider life for the Phillies after the deal. With Trout already here, how much more appealing would they be to the extraordinary 2018 free-agent class? Would Manny Machado, Bryce Harper or Clayton Kershaw be more inclined to sign here with Trout camped out in center field? Duh.
My plan substitutes hope for certainty. Instead of maybes like Crawford and Alfaro (among others), the Phils would have a genuine superstar to attract other superstars and to serve as an ideal role model to all of the young players already here and to the many remaining prospects in the system.
It makes sense, doesn’t it?
It’s worth trying, isn’t it?
That’s all I’m saying.
The decision by CBS to replace Phil Simms with Tony Romo as the lead analyst on NFL games was laughable – far more chuckle-inducing than anything the retired Dallas quarterback figures to say in his debut season as a broadcaster.
When did Tony Romo become an entertainer? Can anyone remember a single witty or insightful remark he made during his 13 years as a player? Other than being a high-profile Cowboys quarterback, what exactly are his credentials for the job?
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I must point out that I have worked for the radio division of CBS for two decades, and the network has given me a great living and a wonderful forum for my sports opinions in Philadelphia. I’m not trying to bite the hand that has been feeding me filet mignon all these years.
And yet I still must point out that this move is ridiculous. Romo has zero experience in any broadcast role, he has a slow and ponderous delivery and – speaking of recently retired quarterbacks – he is no Peyton Manning. If Manning got that job, no one would question it. But Romo? Please.
By many accounts, Simms fell into disfavor because of an increasingly negative response on social media, which pointed out the increasing number of his grammatical misfires in recent years. Do the CBS bigwigs realize what kind of reaction Romo – hated by many (including me) because he was the Dallas quarterback – will receive?
My co-host at WIP, Keith Jones, has been analyzing Flyers games for more than a decade, and he said it took years to master the cadence of the job. Jones has one of the quickest minds I’ve ever encountered in broadcasting, and he said Romo will not have the luxury that he had to grow into the job.
History is not on Romo’s side, either. He is believed to be the first player ever to take over the top analyst job in his first season after retirement. Heck, he wouldn’t even fully commit to retirement last week. He said he was “99 percent sure,”
Well, so am I. As a broadcaster myself – and an employee of CBS, no less – I’m 99 percent sure that Tony Romo will be a monumental bust in the broadcast booth.
The Eagles are having a terrific offseason so far, but they have been far less successful at presenting a clear message on the immediate future of the team.
Which is it? Are they rebuilding, or are they trying to win the NFC East in 2017?
Two weeks ago, owner Jeffrey Lurie preached patience, saying a 10-6 season was not his goal; only a Super-Bowl caliber roster would satisfy him. A few weeks before that, GM Howie Roseman said he was not interested in finding “Band-Aids” for his team.
Those words do not match their deeds, however. With the trade for Ravens defensive tackle Tim Jernigan last week, the Birds have now added seven quality veterans, including Alshon Jeffrey, Torrey Smith, Chance Warmack, Nick Foles, Chris Long and Patrick Robinson.
Jeffrey, Warmack and Robinson agreed to one-year deals, and Jernigan will be a free agent at the end of next season. It is conceivable that all four players could be gone after one year in Philadelphia. If those are not Band-Aids, what is?
More and more, it appears the Eagles want the fans to embrace a dual approach here. They want to give franchise quarterback Carson Wentz a chance to prosper right away, and they have provided some weapons for him. But if the team flops, Lurie and Roseman can say they predicted it would take a while for championship contention.
None of this is offered as a criticism of the overall plan. There’s nothing wrong with giving the team a chance in 2017 while looking beyond the current season for even better things. The one thing every fan wants is hope, and the Eagles have provided that so far this off-season.
I just wish they would be honest about what they’re doing. That’s all.
And finally …
• The Phillies finally found a way to shut up Jayson Werth on Saturday night, scoring a record 12 runs in the first inning against the Nationals. Before that, the hairy ex-Phillie actually had the audacity to suggest he’d be available to come back as a free agent later this year – after burning them again with a three-run homer in the home opener. No thanks, Jayson. How many rings have you gotten since you left Philadelphia?
• As the Sixers move into the offseason, there is one transaction more important than anything they do in the draft or free agency. They need to completely revamp their medical staff, which got just about everything wrong for an entire year. Somehow, they even cleared the rookie of the year, Dario Saric, to play with plantar fasciitis in meaningless games the past two weeks. The Sixers need new doctors. Now.
• James Dolan, the worst owner in sports, struck again last week when he got in the face of a season ticket holder who suggested that he sell the Knicks. Any sane owner would have ignored the comment and ducked into his fancy limousine, but not Dolan. Commissioner Adam Silver said he had no problem with how Dolan handled the situation. So, any owner can abuse his own fans? Is that the message here?
• With the NFL draft still more than two weeks away, the complaints are already flying in Philadelphia. The Rocky statue is closed. Parking around the art museum is already prohibited. Lanes are blocked along the Ben Franklin Parkway. Commissioner Roger Goodell is not exactly a hero here, but something tells me he’s going to get booed louder than he ever has been on April 27.
• Amazon just filled the NFL coffers with an extra $50 million for the honor of streaming the Thursday night games next season. Well, that’s a relief. Weren’t you worried about how the billionaire owners were going to make ends meet in 2017?