Are There Problems in Reading and Clearwater?

Minor League Baseball. It's the place where the future stars get their feet wet. A chance for young players to develop their skills and to show what they can do, giving just a glimpse of how they might play at the major league level. Sometimes, winning gets pushed aside for developing. Not winning can be tolerated as long as players are being well developed. With that in mind, how are things really going in Reading and Clearwater?

What is wrong with the lower half of the Phillies minor league system?

Reading and Clearwater, AA and High A minor league affiliates of the Phillies are off to a horrible start. Are these developmental ball clubs failing to win because they are teaching the young players on their rosters how to play or because there is a need for changes to be made in these teams?

The R-Phils went 10-20 in their first thirty games and the Clearwater Thrashers went 10-24 thru their first 34. When asked if he was satisfied with his team's performance during a recent road trip to Trenton, Reading manager Gregg Legg said, "Without a doubt. We have nice chemistry and we play hard. As a manger, that's all I can ask for." Legg believes in teaching his players the right way to play the game and, while it would be nice to win, the overall picture includes "being able to influence a young guy's life." This is the epitome of what the minor leagues are supposed to be. Legg's Phillies were 62-79 last year but as long as players are being developed, it really doesn't matter where the team is in the standings.

But, what about Clearwater?

While I can't say for sure whether players are being developed in Clearwater or not, what I do know is that after finishing 72-61 last year , they have an abysmal .294 winning percentage so far this year. I also know that in the off-season the Phils hired former Phillie great Mike Schmidt to manage the Thrashers. Suffice it to say, his greatness hasn't rubbed off on his players. Given that the minors are supposed to be a training ground, I don't know how good it is that the Thrashers have a legend as their manager. Could it be that the youngsters Schmidt is supposed to be teaching are in complete awe of the Hall of Famer and thus aren't progressing the way they should?

This tells me that, unless Clearwater improves substantially soon, it might be time for Schmidt to go back to playing golf and leave the real managing and teaching to managers that know what minor league baseball is all about like Reading's Gregg Legg and Scranton's Marc Bombard.

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