Patience. We heard a lot about it over the last three or four seasons, mostly used in sentences like "Why is Ruben Amaro, Jr. so patient with these veterans?" and "My patience is wearing thin with this roster."
General Manager Matt Klentak certainly has had the opportunity to chart his own course over the past seven months since taking the reigns, and patience when it comes to the Phillies is now a completely new conversation.
Klentak and the Phillies are pulling the strings a bit differently than the old regime when it comes to early-season roster maneuverings, and from what has been learned so far, things could be a little different when it comes to job security on the Major League roster under a Klentak and Andy MacPhail helm.
Sorting through the Phillies' 2015 transactions up to about the point in the season where we currently stand (late May-early June), a pattern develops: There is almost no move to be found of consequence for the 25-man roster that was directly related to player performance. You can look back on your own if you'd like starting here to get a feel for what was a truly awful April of 2015. My, the times have changed.
Cesar Jimenez was DFAed to make room for Sean O'Sullivan. Jimenez had started the season with the big club because the Phillies didn't need a fifth starter until April 12. Hector Neris came up when O'Sullivan was injured. He went back down when Severino Gonzalez was called up, who had taken O'Sullivan's spot in the rotation. Chad Billingsley came back from injury, and Gonzalez was shipped back out. Somewhere in there, David Buchanan was sent down for being ineffective, but there was no real "major" move until Grady Sizemore was sent down May 29 in favor of Cody Asche.
Look, the Phillies didn't have a lot to choose from in AAA when it came to that roster. Klentak certainly did walk into a better situation when it came to roster shuffling capabilities. Ruben giveth, and Ruben taketh away, if you will. He made his own bed when it came to the early 2015 roster, but he did help to restock the system heading into 2016.
Fast forward to 2016, and the art of the Major League roster is being painted with different brushes. The Phillies do have more to select from when constructing the 25-man, but so far, it has been easy to get the sense that Klentak's patience may be a little bit different than what had been the norm with the previous front office.
Cedric Hunter had the comeback kid story, the great spring training, and made the roster when the Phillies broke camp. He was sent down April 18, just weeks into the season after he wasn't hitting. He had no chance to correct his issues in the Majors. Hello, David Lough.
James Russell was ineffective in his five games. He was sent down April 20. Step right up, Andrew Bailey. Darin Ruf wasn't getting the job done. Hey there, Tommy Joseph. Just yesterday, the Phillies moved on from Emmanuel Burriss, replacing him on the roster with Jimmy Paredes. Heck, if Daniel Stumpf hadn't been placed on the inactive list after his PED suspension, he probably would have been in this list too.
To say the least, there hasn't been a whole lot of messing around in the Klentak Era. If you aren't performing, you're probably going to get sent down.
And you know what? Surprise, surprise, those moves have worked out just fine. Lough hasn't been great, but Hunter just... wasn't hitting. Bailey has been solid, far better than Russell. Joseph eclipsed everything Ruf managed to do in his month and a half on the Major League roster in the span of about 12 days.
Now, sure, you could say the Phillies have been pretty patient with Ryan Howard, but there's more to that situation than meets the eye, and finding a clear resolution is far from easy. We're not about to try to figure all of that out in this space.
And then, of course, there is the issue of patience and how it relates to the current roster and what could be done to improve it. With each passing day, it's becoming clearer and clearer that the Phillies are not going to compete for a playoff spot this season. It did seem like just last week that was not out of the question.
The Phillies never planned to compete this season, though, and the patience required in that realm may never really be tested after all. Heck, you could argue the last thing Klentak would have wanted to be dealing with was a team five or six games over .500 on July 31. The coming back to earth of the last 10 games or so was to be expected, particularly with the offense the Phillies have.
There will be a day for the Phillies to become buyers again, though, and that day may be sooner than we ever could have imagined. Until that point, though, the Phillies need to continue to push the envelope like they have been roster-wise, not be afraid to send away a fringe player when they are not performing, and avoid the staleness that seemed to seep into the roster over the last few seasons.
So far, Klentak and company haven't been afraid to shuffle the roster around, and patience seems to wear pretty thin when it comes to some of the players on the back-end of the 25-man. And that's not a bad thing. The Phillies should be getting looks at just about everyone they can get their hands on this year.