I have good news: this is not a game recap or a series preview. The Phillies are off. There will be no losing today.
The bad news is that they just finished up a 1-8 road trip that saw them get swept by the Cardinals and Tigers. Terrible offense, a putrid bullpen, and atrocious defense contributed to all of it. While baseball is a sport where nearly anything is possible, I can't help but echo what dajafi said in his game recap yesterday -- the Phillies won't contend in 2013. This isn't a new discovery, but if their hopes for 2013 were already dead, this road trip set those hopes on fire, buried the ashes, and then salted the entire burial plot so nothing could grow there ever again.
After Sunday's utter embarrassment (a word that has been used in this context a lot, but it absolutely fits more than any other), Jimmy Rollins and Jonathan Papelbon had some things to say. Historically, Rollins has carefully chosen his moments to speak candidly. Papelbon, on the other hand, opens his cake hole whenever he feels the urge and spews forth whatever happens to be floating around in his brain at that moment. They have different approaches is what I'm saying.
Let's start with Rollins. Both Todd Zolecki and Matt Gelb tweeted some interesting quotes from him after yesterday's game/utter mockery of baseball.
"That was embarrassing," Jimmy Rollins said.— Matt Gelb (@magelb) July 28, 2013
Rollins: "If there’s a bottom, this has to be it. I can’t imagine things getting worse than they have this past week."— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) July 28, 2013
The man speaks the truth. Though I will say that I have no doubt things could get worse for the Phillies. I know it's hard to see how, but I'm sure they could. The 2013 Phillies: There Is No Bottom. Rollins also said this yesterday:
Rollins indicated he would not waive his no-trade clause if asked.— Matt Gelb (@magelb) July 28, 2013
I find that rather interesting, mostly because I pay fairly close attention to Phillies trade rumors (running a Phillies blog and all) and I have not heard his name bandied about at all. Beyond Ruben Amaro mentioning that everyone could possibly be on the block, his name has not been mentioned. (If I am missing something, by all means point it out in the comments.) So it's a bit puzzling, but in a certain light it's also gratifying. Jimmy Rollins doesn't want to leave us! He wants to stay, he thinks this sad little team has a future!
Jonathan Papelbon took a different approach with his comments after yesterday's game. In a story published by Zolecki, Papelbon gave some choice quotes.
"I definitely didn't come here for this," he said.
Thank you for clearing that up. I was under the impression that you came to Philadelphia to be part of a team that loses with terrifying frequency. I thought barely pitching and losing velocity were part of the plan! I appreciate the clarification. Papelbon was also asked about the team's direction, and said that he felt it was going to take change throughout the entire organization to make a difference. Much like the change that led the Red Sox to decide that they didn't really want him on their team.
Asked after the game if he wants to be traded, Papelbon said, "No, I would like to stay here. But if I'm going to have to put up with this year after year, then no, I don't want to be here. Why would you? Why would anybody?"
Well, it must be hard to put up with a losing team that's paying you $13m a year to be there. Better players than Papelbon have done it for longer while being paid much less. But Papelbon has gotten used to winning, and he came to the Phillies to win and also to be paid more than any other team was offering him. Though I'll admit it's tough to fault his thinking here -- if the organization isn't willing to change and things are going to stay the way they are, who wants to play for a team like that?
All of these comments bring up something important: Jonathan Papelbon is extremely unlikeable and I (along with several, if not all, of your trusted TGP writers) would like to see him traded as soon as possible. It doesn't matter how good he is (though his velocity has slipped this season and he's blown five saves, including four in a row at one point), the man is toxic and annoying and I want to see him on any other team starting immediately. Ah, if wishes were fishes. Matt Gelb has written a piece on Philly.com that is aptly titled "Jonathan Papelbon isn't going anywhere". It paints a pretty dismal portrait of the chances of Papelbon being traded (spoiler: he's not). My favorite nugget is this:
Teams are well aware of Papelbon's surly clubhouse disposition. It was kept a secret by Boston for years, but his reputation is fully understood throughout baseball. The Phillies, a team that prides itself on its character evaluation of free agents, deemed Papelbon's personality as secondary to his talent.
Just when you think you've discovered all the ways the Phillies screwed up one single signing, you find a new facet of that turd covered cubic zirconia. While the Phillies organization may deserve to be publicly maligned by the very player they signed despite his surliness and PR stupidity, my guess is that fans may not be as forgiving of Papelbon. Forgiveness or not, we have to buckle in and recognize reality -- Papelbon is going to be a Phillie for awhile.