“Swing and a miss, struck him out, the Philadelphia Phillies are 2008 world champions of baseball!” Every Phillies fan has probably heard that call multiple times. It was from Harry Kalas after Brad Lidge struck out the last batter in the 2008 World Series. It was his 41st save of the season, in 41 opportunities. Lidge went perfect in save opportunities for the 2008 season. When I think about it now, the Phils bullpen has gone downhill since then.
Let’s see what the good pitchers in the ‘pen were since Lidge in ’08 and ’09. To start, Jonathan Papelbon in 2014 and ’15 was definitely a high-quality closer, and now leads the Phillies franchise in all-time saves, but he got a little punchy in 2015 and we had to trade him away. Ken Giles was a good pitcher, and I’m never sure why we got rid of him, but I guess at the time of his trade he hadn’t quite reached his prime. Over in Houston he has now turned into sort of a nutcase so I can’t say I overly miss him (like Papelbon). After that, we still have Jake Diekman, who had a very good run with the Phillies for a year and is still a solid pitcher. The Phillies didn’t pursue him in the ’15-’16 offseason and he walked. Now all that’s left is Jonathan Pettibone. Pettibone was pretty good for about two seasons, but then he fell off, and I’m not even sure where he is now. At last we get to where we are now, with Hector Neris as our number one option.
When I went through those names, I realized something. Up until this point with Neris, all of those star relievers have been either traded, or not pursued in free-agency. All of them traded by your very own General Manager, Matt Klentak. I wrote on Klentak sometime last month, and why he needed to go (you should check out that article as well). I can’t say this article will help his case. I get that in 2014 and 2015 (the years that we traded all of those pitchers) we were rebuilding and trying to be sellers. Especially in the moment our offense was very bad and we needed more of that. But Klentak planned almost nothing for the future. He had to know trading Jonathan Papelbon would hurt the team in the future in some shape or form. He instead chose to ignore that possibility (which has now become a reality), and go for some minor league pieces for the future. You may ask, who did the Phillies trade Jonathan Papelbon for? The answer: Nick Pivetta. I just recently wrote about Pivetta indirectly so you might want to check out those articles, but Pivetta had an ERA over five last season. Papelbon is still a good closer. Great move Matt. Klentak traded Ken Giles (who at the time was just 25 years old), to the Houston Astros for: Vince Velasquez, Brett Oberholtzer, and Derek Fisher. Who is Derek Fisher? Nobody knows. Who are Vince Velasquez and Brett Oberholtzer? Most people know but probably don’t want to know. Great move Matt. And like I said earlier Jake Diekman was sent to the Phillies in 2015 as part of the Cole Hamels trade but then was not pursued in free-agency after the 2015 season. Jonathan Pettibone? Well he had a good 2013 season and an okay 2014 season, the next year he was outrighted to AAA and pretty much has never been heard from since. Pettibone is not a huge loss, but as we now know anything would help.
The point is, is that Matt Klentak has dug himself into such a big hole pitching wise that he can’t dig himself out. So, I think this circles back to my “Why Matt Klentak Needs to Go” article from last month. I honestly didn’t think the article would end like this, but Matt, you need to go. You can not handle your job. I mean come on Matt, your number one reliver is Hector Neris. You need to be better than that.
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One thought on “The Downfall of the Phillies Bullpen”
The Phillies finding a good closer is akin to the Flyers finding a good goalie. Fortunately, the Flyers may have found their future goalie. The Phillies are still looking for their reliever. The truth is, Matt Klentak does not value relievers. The other (sad) truth is that Matt Klentak does not care about the future. He’s a new and young GM who is trying to prove himself right NOW…if that just “happens” to work out well for the future then that is to the benefit of Philadelphia fans. Klentak is looking for quick results to prove himself in this industry. He doesn’t believe that quality relievers are the way to help him towards that end.
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