Last week, Philadelphia Phillies President David Montgomery talked about why he doesn’t think the organization would ever embrace the idea of a complete and total rebuild of the team. He threw around a lot of numbers and talk of the fans, but what it all boiled down to was that the Phillies would be too afraid of attendance numbers dropping to rebuild the Phillies from scratch.
Shortly afterward, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. backed up what Montgomery said, also stating he doesn’t feel the team needs to be rebuilt in the first place; it just needs some “retooling”. He said this to his team, a team he helped to assemble, shortly before the Phillies went out and lost their sixth game in a row by getting shutout for the eleventh time this season. The Phillies are now 11 games under .500 and are in the kind of free fall you don’t see in professional sports that much any more.
This is exactly why the Phillies’ brass could learn a thing or two from their neighbors across the street, the Philadelphia 76ers.
Much like this current Phillies team, the Sixers had been a mediocre franchise for over a decade, ever since Allen Iverson was traded to the Denver Nuggets. They flirted with greatness and the playoffs ever few years, but there was no way they were going to win an NBA Championship, not with the players they had. Sixers management would bring in free agents players past their prime looking for a second chance, overpay them and then be shocked that the team still lost. And all the while more and more empty seats could be seen at the Wells Fargo Center.
It wasn’t until last year that the Sixers and their new GM Sam Hinkie decided to tear the whole thing down and begin anew. The Sixers would lose, and lose a lot, in order to rebuild the right way with young players acquired in the draft and from overseas. Would the Wells Fargo Center be more than half empty most nights? Sure, but the Sixers were okay with that because a little pain now would mean big rewards in the future.
The Phillies need to come to their collective senses and realize it’s time for them to do the same thing. No amount of “retooling” is going to help this franchise return to the World Series. Bringing in free agents at the trade deadline isn’t going to help; we all saw that with the Hunter Pence trade. And the players they do have are either too old or just don’t have the skills needed to win.
Will the attendance at Citizens Bank Park take a hit? Most definitely. But the fans will come back once the Phillies have a decent product to put on the field, because they sure aren’t showing up in droves right now.
This Phillies team has had an amazing run and has provided baseball fans in Philadelphia with a lifetime of great memories. But it’s time to tear it down and start over. The sooner Phillies management realizes starting over is more important than how many people show up for the games in the short term, the better off they’ll be.