The local nine this weekend added two meh players with domestic violence violations in their past, including the least popular player since Scott Rolen. They opened camp with plenty of money to spend but no new talent. And they found out that maybe their horse was so lame that he stayed in the barn.
New season. The same old Phillies.
From the Stupid Money franchise that brought you ‘If we don’t, we don’t,’ the Phillies ended the 99-day lockdown and are 100% back to business as usual: deaf, negligent , their checkbook not found.
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In case you didn’t get the message that the Phillies don’t really care about domestic violence issues when they let Odúbel Herrera play with the major league club last season – he was suspended for 85 games in 2019 – they agreed to bring him back this season, according to a league source. He agreed to the terms on Monday morning. This, after they paid him a $2.5 million buyout to walk away.
In case you still haven’t figured out, they’ve already signed reliever Jeurys Familia, who was suspended 15 games in 2017 for violating domestic violence policy.
To add insult to injury, neither Familia nor Herrera materially make the Phillies much better on the court.
Zack Wheeler, on the other hand, does.
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He’s the team’s first true ace since Roy Halladay, circa 2011. But Wheeler won’t earn his full $26 million this season. He’s not ready, either by design, by injury, or both. The distinction was not entirely clear.
On Sunday morning, Phillies president Dave Dombrowski revealed that Wheeler had yet to throw the mound. Sunday was March 13, about four weeks into spring training, so Wheeler should have been ready to get rid of the mound a month ago. Dombrowski claimed Sunday morning that the Phillies had always planned to let Wheeler delay his preseason preparations. In 2021, he pitched a career-high 213⅓ innings and the most in the major leagues.
(Of course, since the Phillies missed the playoffs for the 10th straight year, Wheeler didn’t make it past the end of September. By that logic, if the Phillies had gone to the World Series, Wheeler wouldn’t have started 2022 until May. That, of course, is perfect Phillies logic.)
Dombrowski said Sunday morning that “everything is fine from a health standpoint,” regarding Wheeler.
On Sunday afternoon, Wheeler told reporters he had experienced shoulder pain when he started his offseason routine in December. That prompted him to stop throwing, and that’s what delayed his preparation for camp.
So either Dombrowski didn’t to know Sunday morning that Wheeler injured his shoulder in December, or Dombrowski deliberately misled reporters as to why Wheeler was not on schedule – omitting injury information, telling half-truth practice.
Unfortunately, the former is more likely. And the latter is much worse.
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At least in Wheeler, the Phils can expect good results and solid citizenship.
Domestic abusers charged and suspended? Not really.
Will it be worth the bad optics to add two low-yield players? Obviously, the Phillies don’t care.
Familia, 32, has passed all but 30 of his last 252 games with the Mets. In those 252 games, he’s defined mediocrity: a 4.15 ERA and 25 saves since 2016, when he was an All-Star.
Herrera, 30, was part of that All-Star team with Familia. Since then, he’s been an erratic outfielder, a streaky hitter, and an inconsistent, fickle presence on the bases. Over the past five years (he spent the COVID-shortened 2020 season in the minors), he batted .262 with a .313 on-base percentage and .736 OPS, numbers that reflect his 2021 effort out of 124 games.
Additionally, he strangled his girlfriend; the police report says the man known as The Little Bull left “handprint marks on his girlfriend’s neck”. She didn’t press charges, so El Torito walked on, but that doesn’t diminish the horrific nature of the incident. Now he’s back.
» READ MORE: Why the Phillies should cut Odúbel Herrera when they still can | Marcus Hayes
As a person, I don’t care if he changed, reformed or anything else. As a player, he is what he is, and that’s not much. If he’s the best left-handed squad option Dombrowski can find, then the Phillies should just rehire Matt Klentak.
There’s a chance Dombrowski will save his war chest — he’s about $40 million below the planned $230 million threshold for the luxury tax — to take a monumental plunge, as the Phillies splurged on Bryce Harper in 2019, Wheeler in 2020 and JT Realmuto in 2021. Blue-chipers like Kris Bryant, Michael Conforto, Kyle Schwarber and Nick Castellanos are currently unemployed.
Right now, though, the Phillies look ridiculous. Again.
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As per usual?
They are, after all, a team so full of selfish, misinformed goobers that they spent most of the 2021 season below 50% vaccination and never reached the threshold. 85% vaccination only in mid-September, meaning they suffered under onerous protocols long after nearly every other team had returned to normal. This is a team that didn’t have one, but of them, the nimrods blame their wounds to obtain the vaccine. Ron White said it best: You can’t fix stupid people.
Apparently you can’t fix the Phillies either.