"Do you see ANY scenario, either in mid-season or perhaps after another non-playoff season, in which we can unload both Manuel and Ed Wade?" --Rob A.
Yes, Rob, I do. However, the scenario I envision is one that takes place in a galaxy far, far away, where Jar-Jar is not our GM and the Phillies have made astute decisions on their way to 27 World Championships. In the galaxy we currently reside, Dave Montgomery (despite rumors circulating that Ed Wade may be gone by Memorial Day) will only make decisions as they affect the bottom line – cash in the owner's pockets. Phillies fans should only expect change if they vote with their feet and stop going to see this consistently inconsistent team.
"Why do they think because the fans aren't "baseball people" that we're all stupid and don't understand baseball issues? Can't they see that they have done nothing to make fans want to like them or the players? …are they really that clueless or are the powers that be (Montgomery, Wade, Manuel) just that spineless to make a major change/shakeup???" – Richard P.
Richard, I had a great response ready for you, but then you answered your own question with that last line. Read on:
"If the GM wants to keep his job, big changes have to be made. The catching situation has to be addressed. Wade should have gotten Wilkerson from the Expos last year but didn't. So now he's gotta go too…I know how this club is run—cheaply, with all decisions going through Montgomery. What I'm saying is the club is in a shambles." – Dom P.
Dom, always good to hear from you. If what you mean by "big changes" is trading for Endy Chavez, then Wade is up to the challenge. The biggest criticism of Wade over the past few years has been his incessant need to trade prospects for washed-up middle relievers. Apparently, Wade took this criticism to heart and has changed. No longer is he trading for middle relievers, now he's trading for fifth outfielders that have the speed to steal bases. If only they could actually get on base. Endy Chavez is this year's Doug Glanville - see the pattern?
"I feel the same way about that stupid pinch-hit for Byrd against Zambrano. He (Zambrano) was on pitch 130, and judging by his excellent spring I would have kept Byrd (instead of sending him to Scranton to start the season)." --Ryan M.
Ryan, ouch! I guess the Phillies way of dealing with Good Ol' Charlie's questionable managerial decisions is to trade the players involved away. It's a politician's move - control the news cycle. If the fans start questioning why Byrd didn't hit in a specific situation, trade Byrd and say you've been chasing the other guy for a year. Stick to your story no matter how implausible it sounds.
"I have been a Phutile Phillies fan since a child in the early 70's and I have never felt as angry or disillusioned as I do now. This team is hopeless and I feel there is only one solution: Fire everyone, ownership, management, and players." --Darryl S.
Darryl, I feel your pain. It's only in the depths of despair that Phillies fans would rather have no team than the one currently on the field. It's a sad state when this team makes you nostalgic for the good old days of Rick Schu and Steve Jeltz…or even last season's debacle:
"…being a Larry Bowa fan for 30 years I was very disappointed that they fired a man that had three winning seasons out of four, and the only non-winning season was one game under." -- Don A.
Don, you're being too harsh. LB was never able to get the Phillies over the 86-win plateau, even after Wade gave him all of those excellent middle relievers. Forget that the team was winning; the fact of the matter is that the front office was tired of being stuck on 86 wins. Problem solved - this team will not win 86 games.
Finally, I just have to finish with this thoughtful and heartfelt note from Mike:
"In 1993 the Macho Row Phillies went to the World Series and that team alone made me become not only a baseball fan, but a sports fan, and I was only 7 years old. Perhaps no team in Philadelphia's history could represent the City of Brotherly Love greater than that team. I…expected every team in every sport to have that same fighting spirit.
"…players have said that fans should be patient, and it's early, and that we're cruel. We may be, but we're Phillies fans, and we pay their salary, and we're tired of seeing an average product on the field. When these players are paid millions of dollars they should just shut up, quit pointing fingers, stop the excuses, and win some ballgames for God's sake.
"…This franchise is in a bad, bad way, and it can only get worse…This ownership seems satisfied with an average team year after year. I apologize for the length of this e-mail, but I think I'm speaking for the vast majority of disgruntled Phillie fans." -- Mike F.
Mike, I believe you are too, and I don't think any of them could have said it better. If only someone were listening.
Columnist's note: I welcome any feedback; please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.