Monday, December 7, 2020

Phillies Won't Accept Dead Man in Return for Wheeler

I really wasn't going to try to post again until tomorrow, but this one was a little too good to pass up. Yesterday, ESPN's Buster Olney reported that the Phillies were listening to offers on former Mets pitcher Zack Wheeler. Needless to say, this started a veritable sh*tstorm of controversy. After all, the Phillies just signed the guy last year. Combined with earlier news that Philadelphia isn't considered a favorite to re-sign catcher J.T. Realmuto, fans of the team were not at all happy. After all, they lived through a period of tanking and rebuilding to get to this point, and it hasn't exactly paid off all that well. You would certainly expect ownership to reply in the usual formal manner, something to the effect that, while listening to all offers on any player, there were no plans to arbitrarily ship the righty out of town just for cost savings.

What we all got, instead, was a somewhat bizarre overreaction from the team's managing general partner John Middleton. As quoted in the New York Post:

"If they offered me Babe Ruth, I wouldn’t trade him," Middleton told ESPN, adding the names of Ted Williams and Mike Schmidt to stress the point. "I have authorized no one to have a conversation about trading him."

ESPN had reported earlier Sunday that high-ranking executives from other MLB teams said Philadelphia made it known that its second-highest-paid player was available.

They’re lying to you," Middleton said, per ESPN.

Of the three names mentioned by Middletown, Ruth and Williams no longer call this mortal coil home, while Schmidt just turned 71 in September. He looks great for his age, but it's probably safe to say that his days as a productive ballplayer are long gone.

Olney had sources that offers were being taken on Wheeler, and that certainly may have been the case. There's no way of telling whether the Phillies were just listening or seriously exploring a trade. At this point — with the team struggling to contend after a rebuild that was supposedly going to put them in position to do so — trading Wheeler would be a real P.R. disaster for the team.

One message is clear from all of this: don't expect to offer the Phillies salary relief and a dead ballplayer or a septuagenarian, no matter how great they once were, and walk away with Zack Wheeler. It just ain't going to happen. You're going to have to be willing to part with real, active ballplayers to have any hope of making a deal.

When I get a bit frustrated with how slowly this hot stove season is progressing, this is a pretty good reminder of the type of dysfunction that used to be the daily reality for a Mets fan. I guess I can live with the waiting.

I'll be back tomorrow, God willing, with a regular post. Please stay safe, be well and take care.

 Follow me on Twitter @MikeSteffanos


  1. It all reminds me of the Marlins of 8 years ago trading Reyes less than one year after signing him to a big contract (and his playing very well in the season that they had him). I can see Philly becoming a team like that for a while. Bryce Harper will be the new Giancarlo Stanton - Yankees, anyone?

    A sidebar: it was also interesting relooking at that Reyes trade. There were several players that in that trade that later became Mets players - Adeiny Hecchevaria, Jake Marisnick, John Buck, and later on, Miguel Castro was in the trade where Reyes went to the Rockies for Tulowitzki.

    For some reason, I like stuff like that.

  2. I agree with you, but I think one huge difference between the Marlins and the Phillies is that Marlins fans already expected bullsh*t like that from their team. If the Phillies do trade Wheeler it means, essentially, that they are rebuilding again, and that just won't fly with the fans.

    I hadn't thought of that Blue Jays trade with the Marlins for many years. I forgot how big it was, and how little it panned out for either team

  3. yea, i agree about the difference in expectations. I don't know how much of this Phillies press - lost $$, phantom trade pieces, etc. can be directly contributed to the COVID thing, but it seems like that organization has taken management lessons from the Wilpons (save the big signing of Harper and the Realmuto trade). I guess what I am saying is that there doesn't appear to be a big plan to really build a better team. Other than Nola and Wheeler, their pitching is abysmal.

    Yes, I had forgotten about that trade as well. But lucky for them, they got John Buck who they could flip a month later for R.A. Dickey.

  4. The Phillies were run so well a decade ago, but they seem to have fallen back into being the poorly run org they were before their last streak of success.


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