With each passing loss, with each passing excuse for effort, with each passing rationale for waiting on bringing any of the kids up from the farm, the likelihood of the Phillies somehow cashing in on their Sixers-ish state of abyss the past few years with the signing of a big-time free agent or two dims with subtlety of a sledgehammer coming down on a light switch.
Salvation, thy name will not be Bryce Harper nor Mike Trout.
Sorry, peeps, just keeping it real ...
OK, put away the red-striped glasses and “It Hit Me Like a Matt Klentak” tees for a minute and put the reality caps on. Seriously, who the hell would want to join this dumpster fire of a franchise as it muddles through the recovery of nearly a decade's worth of Ruben Amaro's fingerprints all over it.
We're not talking a quick fix here, or a four-year tanking plan unearthed hatched across the street in South Philly that sent the city's NBA franchise plummeting so hard to the ocean floor that it's bounced back almost to the point of being able to tread water with playoff contention.
No, the Phillies are so far down and buried that it's going to take more than making Harper a half-billion-dollar acquisition or convincing Trout to utilize Section 2855 of the California Labor Code as a means to quantum leap themselves out of the grave.
Both superstars know that. Even in their mid-20s.
They ain't about to waste the primes of their professional careers exhausting themselves in futility with trying to make some pipe dream concocted by any sports-talk host and eaten up by a starving fan base come true.
OK, sure, if Scott Kingery really does turn out to be the next Chase Utley, and we're talking the .300-30-100-100 in his prime Utley and the “broken down before his time” Utley post-2009 World Series, if Rhys Hoskins proves to be a Mini-Me version of slugging Yankees rookie sensation Aaron Judge, and if a couple pitchers arrive to place Aaron Nola in his rightful place in the middle of a rotation, then, yes, Harper or Trout or anyone else would not be making the worst decisions of their lives by coming here.
But how likely are the Phillies to go 3-for-3 on those ifs? Hell, a 1-for-3 effort would be wonderful. Just don't count on it.
The runaway leaders to Major League Baseball's basement in 2017, the Phillies' organizational highlights of late include helping to turn their best player, Odubel Herrera, into persona non grata with the fans, making potential 30-homer guy Tommy Joseaph an almost untradeable entity, and providing manager Pete Mackanin with enough excuses to keep him a sympathetic character through the rest of his days at Citizens Bank Park.
This is not a team on the fast track back to respectability – a location they'd probably need to be in the first place before the likes of Harper or Trout would consider a move to Broad Street.
MAYBE THEY DO LIE A LITTLE
The numbers …
For now, they won’t agree with this side of the debate.
Halfway into a decade of Mike Trout and Bryce Harper vying for “best player in baseball” honors, they weigh heavily in the former’s favor.
But the gut feeling here, not to mention what the contacts-aided eye test says, is that the latter either brings, or will bring, more to the table – offensively and otherwise.
Though both had league MVP awards in their back pockets by the time they were 23, Trout, clearly, has produced the more “wow” statistics overall, and on a more consistent basis.
Your “average” 162 games for Trout: .307 batting average, .408 on-base percentage, .566 slugging percentage, 35 homers, 101 RBIs and 120 runs scored.
Comparatively for Harper: .284, .388, .513, 31, 88 and 106.
Trout also added a second MVP to his trophy case at age 25.
Then again, Harper looks on track to match that this season.
His 2015 season trumps any Trout has posted, too, in terms of Ruthian, “holy crap” stats headlined by .460 on-base and .640 slugging clips.
Plus, for all the hype surrounding Trout’s leaps against the fence, Harper is the superior defensive player with the proverbial cannon for an arm, and, like it or not, he has become “the face” of the sport … and seems incredibly comfortable as such, pressure to perform be damned. Of course, if you’re the Phillies or any other team in baseball, you break the bank for either should they ever become available, via free agency or trade.