According to a Friday evening report from Todd Zolecki, David Montgomery is ready to come back to work. Interim president Pat Gillick--you may have heard of him--has been in that role, i.e., interim presidency, since Montgomery stepped away to undergo treatment for jaw cancer in late August.
Since assuming his interim position, Gillick has seemingly made it a point to leave his mark on the organization. Last month, he came to the entirely reasonable conclusion that, because the Phillies were unlikely to contend in 2015 or 2016, they should act with an eye toward 2017 and beyond. Of course, coming out of a member of the Phillies front office, Gillick may as well have declared support for the overthrow of the U.S. government in how radical a departure it was from the discourse that preceded.
Since that declaration, the Phillies have done rebuilding-esque things like signing veterans to short, cheap contracts to take up space until younger players are capable of occupying that same space and shopping everyone over 30 from Cole Hamels to Marlon Byrd. They even seem committed to sending Ryan Howard to Djibouti, if that's what it takes for him to not play 1B for the team next year. All this in full commitment to rebuilding.
Now Montgomery wants to come back and the fear is he will tear down this re-building before the foundation was even laid. Before he can tear anything down, however, Gillick would have to stop being team president. Based on his openness to the media and declaration of a (presumably) new course for the organization, signs seem to indicate that Gillick is enjoying his tenure as team president, albeit brief, and has no plans to relinquish his (interim) throne.
Montgomery seems, on the other hand, as if he would also prefer to preside over the Phillies for the immediate future. The quotes from Montgomery in Zolecki's post read like he is impatient to resume his role and stop the madness of a rebuild. Zolecki ends by offering a particularly troubling quote from Monty:
"We’re rebuilding, but we have some people that are still going to be part of it. I think our middle infielders (Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley) are both 10-and-5 (full no-trade rights) and both want to stay here. I have more optimism about next year."
I guess those first two sentences are fine since they are both probably true--Rollins has already rejected a trade to the Mets and Utley has said he has no intentions of playing anywhere else. The last sentence puts me firmly on the anti-Monty platform. Optimism over veteran production is what has led the Phillies to the last 2-3 years of delusion. Optimism and pessimism don't even provide an appropriate framework under which to approach 2015. 2015, and to some extent 2016, will just happen. Current players will play out their contracts or careers in Philadelphia and prospects will gradually usurp their playing time. Maybe in 2017 we can all be optimistic (or pessimistic) about those prospects' readiness to put a team in playoff contention.
The next two seasons will just happen, optimism is at best misplaced and, at worst, counter-productive. If Montgomery's optimism causes him to sign Nelson Cruz for 3 years or offer Jon Lester a long, expensive contract, then we should all be pessimistic about the Phillies going forward.
These 2-plus months of Gillick have renewed my hope for the Phillies organization. Please, David Montgomery, don't take that away from me.