Last week, Phillies owner John Middleton held a meeting with his top officials that ultimately resulted in the “reassignment” of general manager Matt Klentak. Thanks to my super secret source within the organization, I was able to get a transcript of the meeting.
The scene: A meeting room within Phillies’ headquarters. Present are John Middleton, team president Andy MacPhail, Matt Klentak, and manager Joe Girardi.
Middleton: Let’s get down to it: This was another season out of the playoffs, and I want answers! Would someone like to explain what went wrong this season?
Klentak: Actually, I don’t think wrong is necessarily the correct word to describe what happened. In 75% of my simulations, the team made the playoffs by at least a three-game margin.
Middleton: Oh, that’s terrific. Maybe we can all move to the magic simulation land where we haven’t missed the playoffs for nine straight years.
MacPhail: I’d just like to once again state my displeasure at how “winning oriented” this franchise has become. I think we’re overlooking some of the big things the franchise achieved this year.
Middleton: What did we achieve? They let like 30 teams into the playoffs, and we still missed out!
MacPhail: Did we really miss out? Back they used to let only a few teams into the playoffs, it was a big deal. Now that they’re letting everyone in, what’s the point? I say we’re better off not making the playoffs!
Middleton: (Incredulous stare) How are we better off not making the playoffs?
MacPhail: Because when you make the playoffs, the fans become even more insufferable. They start expecting you to win playoff series, and get angry when you don’t. And then they start expecting to make the playoffs again the next season. Who’s got time to deal with those kinds of expectations? I certainly don’t.
Middleton: Your job is to deal with those expectations!
MacPhail: It is? Ugh, that sounds awful.
Middleton: Well, I’m certainly not going to deal with the fans! Do you know what happened to me? One night, I was in my office and heard a bunch of air horns outside the stadium. So I went down to see what was going on, and there were a bunch of people standing outside for some reason. I was about to call the police, but then they came over and started talking to me and asked for my autograph! It was disgusting! I practically had to bathe in hand sanitizer that night!
MacPhail: So...speaking of the fans: Did you see our numbers regarding the fan cutouts in the stands? We led the league!
Middleton: That’s great, Andy. I’ll be sure to petition the other owners so that the number of cardboard cutouts counts in the standings. I’m sure that will be a big hit at the winter meetings.
MacPhail: Did I mention that the money we made from the cutouts could mean we don’t have to be quite as aggressive with our planned layoffs this winter.
Middleton: (Stares blankly for a few seconds then breaks out into laughter) Ah, that’s a good one, Andy. Now, I’m starting to remember why I keep you around.
Klentak: If we’re still going to fire all those people, then is there any chance that extra money could be directed towards player payroll?
Middleton: Of course not. You know that money goes into that ever-increasing “Other” column in our budget that we don’t have to report to the players’ association.
Klentak: But a little extra money could make a big difference. If I had been authorized to exceed the luxury tax, my calculations show that we would have had a 99% chance of making the postseason field.
Middleton: How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t care about your statistical mumbo jumbo!
Girardi: Can I say something? I don’t know how you guys have done things here in the past, but back when I was with the Yankees, we didn’t worry about things like the luxury tax and whatnot. We just went out to the big free agents and said, “Come on!” and they usually came. And sometimes, other teams would say stuff like, “We can’t afford these guys!” and we’d say, “It’s okay, send them our way! We’ll pay them for you, and give you some low level prospects or something.”
Middleton: I can’t believe none of you have any good ideas as to how to improve things!
Girardi: I just said, we gotta stop worrying about that whole luxury tax thing, and-
Middleton: No ideas at all? Really?
Girardi: But I- (Looks at MacPhail who shakes his head no)
Middleton: I’m very disappointed in you all. And that’s why I had to bring in a special consultant.
The door to the conference room opens and Ruben Amaro, Jr. strides in and takes a seat
Amaro: Papa John! Thanks for having me!
Klentak: Him? You brought him in to help? Have you even run the simulations of all the seasons when he was here? Let me tell you, my computer did not like the 2011 team’s chances at all!
Amaro: Was it the same computer that told you Brandon Workman was gonna be the savior of the bullpen? I got news for you, pal. Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler would have been fighting it out for the fifth starter spot on that 2011 team.
Klentak: He’s the reason we didn’t make the playoffs! He left me a barren farm system!
Amaro: Barren? Those guys were looking pretty good before your buddies at Driveline started messing with them. It was brilliant the way you guys turned Rhys Hoskins into Scott Hatteberg.
Klentak: Scott Hatteberg was far more valuable than-
Amaro: And your bullpen? I left you Ken Giles! And you traded him for Vince freaking Velasquez!
Klentak: My analysis program is still 78% confident that Velasquez is going to develop into a top-of-the-rotation pitcher.
Girardi: Whoa, hold on there, Matty. I don’t really know what your computer’s telling you, but there ain’t no way that Vince Velasquez is becoming a good starting pitcher. I put him in the game to start, and I gotta have the bullpen warming up before he even throws a pitch.
Klentak: Perhaps there’s some disconnect between our data and the way you’re using these pitchers?
Girardi: The way we’re using them? There ain’t no way to use Heath Hembree and David Phelps. I tell these guys before they go out there, “Hey, don’t give up any home runs!” And what’s the first thing they do? Boom! Home run! It’s like they don’t even listen!
Middleton: Let’s get back on track. Matt, can you give me an update on how negotiations are going with J.T. Realmuto.
Klentak: There are none.
Middleton: That’s funny, because it sounded like you just told me that our best player is a free agent and you aren’t negotiating with him.
Klentak: My team came up with a valuation report for Realmuto over the next five years and the corresponding dollar value. We sent that report to Realmuto’s agent and said, “This is our offer, take it or leave it.” We have yet to hear back.
Amaro: (laughs raucously) Oh, you are so screwed. J.T.’s gonna look real nice in a Mets uniform next year!
Klentak: But there’s no way we can possibly re-sign him and stay under the luxury tax for the next three years.
Middleton: You’re saying there’s no way to re-sign him? That’s unacceptable! Now what am I going to tell Bryce? We’re best friends, you know? (Phone buzzes) See, I just got a text from him....”Hey, John. It’s Bryce. When JT getting paid?”
Now I have to tell Bryce that his buddy isn’t going to come back because Matt Klentak says its impossible to sign him.
Klentak: If it helps, I could share that valuation report with him.
Middleton: You know what, why don’t you let me handle the negotiations with J.T. from now on. I’ve just thought of something new you can work on...
THE NEXT DAY - Andy MacPhail’s office
Klentak: I’m being re-assigned???
MacPhail: Don’t look at it like its a bad thing. We just thought that this might be a better use of your talents.
Klentak: You want me to come up with a formula to figure out the optimal arrangements of the fan cutouts throughout the stadium?
MacPhail: Absolutely! I’ve been assured that its a very important job and your calculations will be invaluable.
Klentak: You sure you don’t need me to compile a list of potential free agents or something?
MacPhail: No, no, this is far more important. Now you better get started. After all, we did lead the league in cutouts!
Klentak: But who’s going to handle GM duties?
Amaro: (From outside in the hallway) Don’t worry about it, nerd!