Okay, let's say you are Pat Gillick. You have fifty-one days left before the trading deadline of July 31. First, understand you are "bright," as Santa Claus (Bill Conlin) has proclaimed, the man who never met a diet he didn't like.
Next you have to buy a USAirways ticket from Seattle to Philly so you can come back in town and get reaquainted with what the hell is going on. Then, you have to look at some facts.
1. Fact number one. You made some boneheaded moves during the off season which you thought were brilliant, i.e., the catcher who can't hit and can't block the plate, which every little leaguer knows you have to do when you have a fearsome runner like Hanley Ramirez bearing down on you. You signed that catcher for a one year deal worth $3 million. Nice.
2. You made some other boneheaded moves, like getting a third baseman with power at the corner; turns out he can't catch a ground ball and up to this point in the season has no--that's zero--home runs. Good move.
3. You completely under-rate the rookie catcher who came up through the system, the one you are paying the leagueminimumof $380,000, who turns out to be maybe the catcher of the future. Which means, Mr. Bright, you went out and got a guy for $3 million who sits the bench and embarrasses the team because he is too slow and is afraid of physical contact--which is like a surgeon who is afraid of blood.
4. All this not bad enough, but you sit back and do nothing for a bullpen which you knew--which everybody who has half a brain knew--was stinky last year, but you waited until the last minute and signed a bunch of stiffs who most times can't get anybody out.
5. You send a hungry minor league journeyman to the minors after he hit .328 last season--the feel-good story of the year, second only to Rocky and Vince Papale--crushing all hope for every guy who thinks he can play for the Phillies while he sits in the lounge chair and cusses out Uncle Charlie. Thanks a lot.
6. You move a bright, young, promising pitcher, who can throw a baseball through a steel plate, to the bullpen,(we know it was your decision, Pat) who, as expected, goes crazy trying to save every damn game and instead, throws out his shoulder.
7. You watch and allow to happen--maybe the most embarrassing thing in Phillies history since they fired Pat Corralas while he had the team in first place--Pat Burrell make every Phillies fan run to the kitcher to get anything, a beer, a pretzel, a drink of water, whatever, when he comes up to bat because it's too painful to watch him take yet another third called strike. Ouch! And Burrell was suppose to protect Ryan Howard in the lineup? Sure, and Santa Claus won't be coming down the chimney this year.
8. You go to the free agent frenzy and get a guy who's arm is shot and his fastball is aboutequivalentto the Phillie Fanatic's arm when he scoops up a ball and fires it back into the visitor's dugout just before the National Anthem.
9. Considering all this, your team has been in the playoffs once--that's once--in the past 24 years, and is coming close to 10,000 loses, which will give the CIA (Cataldi and Iskin on the Airwaves) something to talk about until Donovan throws his first interception.
10. Meanwhile, the Philly newspapers are reporting that you are about to accept the Club President's job for the Seattle Mariners, but you insist it's not going to happen. Right, but you know what? The guys who sit out in front of their row homes in South Philadelphia know you are lying through your teeth. But they say that if you are going to Seattle? Then go, so we can get somebody here who knows what the hell they are doing before the trading deadline.
Next: Part two. How to turn the club around.