When my favorite college football team was looking for a head coach, the two prominent candidates discussed were a popular assistant coach for the previous team and a proven head coach from the Mid-American Conference. I made an argument for the proven guy with the plea being based on the narrative that the best indicator of future success is past success. The only advantage the popular guy had was the hope that he would do well.
“Hope doesn’t get me to a bowl game,” I said. They picked the popular guy and he promptly transformed a 4-7 team in 2012 to a 2-10 team in 2013. So much for hope.
Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. appears to be building the 2014 edition of his baseball team the same way, baking a cake of ingredients heavy on hope and light on proven. “We’re built for now,” Amaro said on Monday when the subject of trading pitchers Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee was brought up.
With a reliance on aging and oft-injured veterans like Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins and additions to that core that included a 36-year-old in Marlon Byrd, a strong argument can be made that the Phillies are being built for then, not now. The days of Howard hitting 58 home runs with Utley hitting 31 and Rollins hitting 30 ended in 2007, not 2012. To expect them to come close to those numbers or even stay on the field for an extended number of games seems to be a false hope now, but nothing Amaro has done since September would indicate otherwise.
Hope doesn’t get your college football team to a bowl game nor does it get your MLB team to the playoffs, and Amaro probably is going to learn that the hard way in about 10 months.