When I moved into my house, I was a novice with tools. My dad would always help me do things that required toolsy know-how, hoping some of his expertise would rub off on me, but alas, it never took. I was hopeless. I would consistently use the wrong tool for the wrong job.
Here’s a story.
I was out back in the very early days of home ownership, getting ready to grill some burgers. I had turned on my grill and waited for it to heat up. My brother- and sister-in-law were on the way over, excited to have an outdoor meal prepared for them. In all of this hubbub, I had forgotten to thaw out the burgers overnight, meaning I had to take them out of the freezer at the last minute, hoping to pry them apart and throw them on the grill. Using my (properly cleaned) bare hands wasn’t working, so instead, I reached for the closest object: a steak knife. At this point, I know what you’re thinking and no, I did not slice my hand open.
I tried and tried to get them unstuck, yet failed. Angrily, I slammed my hand down on the nearest object - the closed grill lid.
One burn unit visit later and I had learned a valuable lesson for owning a home: use the right tool for the right job.
*the next time and each time after that, I’ve used a butter knife...but only after thawing in the microwave for a few seconds
I liken this experience to the one the Phillies started out this season with in the outfield. Saddled with nary an option worthy of being called major league caliber to roam the great, green expanse, manager Pete Mackanin went with the object closest to him to begin the year in left field: Cedric Hunter, who will henceforth be known to me as "The Steak Knife".
What did that do to Pete? He scribbled Hunter’s name into the Opening Day lineup and ultimately, the decision burned him.
In Mackanin’s defense, Hunter seemed like a "ok" option. Drafted in 2006 by the Padres, he was consistently ranked as one of, if not the, best prospect in the San Diego system, so he had some faint residue of pedigree. He was even coming off two decent years in the Braves’ minor league system in 2014-15, so naturally, the Phillies gave him a shot in spring training, where he hit .262/.282/.506 in 65 at bats. At the very least, he was one of the hotter bats coming north from Clearwater. It couldn’t hurt to give him first crack the job, right?
Hunter suffered through one of the worst opening months in team history.
Ultimately, this led to his being assigned to Lehigh Valley, never to be heard from again. But as they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. In a corresponding move that day, the team brought up David Lough, who was.....less than memorable.
On paper, Lough was a perfectly fine fifth outfielder. His defense was above average. He could draw a walk or two when necessary. But on a team that was performing this poorly offensively, his batting line of .239/.342/.313 was just too much of an anchor on the lineup. In the end, he too met his Phillies’ demise and became just another footnote in team history.
These two serve as a stark reminder that the team is still rebuilding. When teams go through teardowns, they need placeholders to hold down the fort until the kids arrive. As the first few players important to this rebuild (Alfaro, Williams, Crawford, etc.) make their debuts, it’s important to remember that someone has to play the positions in the meantime. The foundation for a successful team in Philadelphia is still being laid. It will be a few more years until the Phillies have a fully completed product that has the same curbside appeal of the Cubs and Dodgers. Until then, we have to endure a sprinkle of Hunter here, a dash of Lough there.
In the end, we just hope the right tools are available to the manager to help construct a World Series champion once again in this city. We really don’t want to get burned.