Angelo Cataldi: Phillies recent surge is bad for team

The Phillies are rolling with wins of seven of their last nine games. Credit: Getty Images The Phillies went on a stretch of wins in seven of nine games over the last two weeks prior to two losses to St. Louis. Credit: Getty Images

The sudden and unexpected return of the Phillies to the NL East race is not the best possible scenario for a team in serious decline. In fact, it might end up being the worst-case scenario.

After all of the strong pennant contenders the Phillies have fielded in the past decade, does the current group show any of the qualities of those winning teams? Chase Utley has been better than expected and Ryan Howard is knocking in runs again, but who else is outperforming expectations?

With so many mediocre teams still in the baseball races, the Phillies could score a major return for their veterans – especially Utley and Jimmy Rollins. They should also be able to shed a big chunk of Jonathan Papelbon’s ridiculous contract. Even lesser names like Kyle Kendrick and John Mayberry Jr. will have some value in a competitive trade market.

In his six futile years as GM, Ruben Amaro Jr. has never been a seller, and now he has a reason to hold onto his aging core for one more run. This Phillies team – locked into a losing record all season – has no chance to win anything this year. Zero. And president Dave Montgomery’s vote of confidence for Amaro last week only advanced the perception that the front office has lost its grasp of reality.

The Phils need to forget about their successes and concentrate on the one thing that actually holds some promise – the future. They need to sell. They need to start the next era of winning as soon as possible.

Idle thoughts

  • OK, I’ll admit it. I’m keeping one sleepy eye on the World Cup these days, but only because it’s my job to know what’s going on in sports. Soccer fans believe the surge of interest in America proves the sport is finally gaining momentum. Not true. This buzz is nothing more than patriotism. I hope.
  • Cole Hamels is turning back into the diva we knew so well early in his Phillies career. His public argument with Carlos Ruiz during Saturday’s loss in St. Louis and his subsequent blow-off of the media are not the actions of a team leader. Hey, Cole. Grow up.
  • Mike Schmidt believes Phillies fans have softened since his Hall of Fame career. Maybe so, but it’s also true that Schmidt just wasn’t very good at connecting with fans when he was a player. Today, the bond is strong, thanks to Schmidt’s honesty and accessibility.
  • Tony Gywnn’s death at 54 last week was the latest indictment of baseball’s see-no-evil attitude toward chewing tobacco. If Gwynn’s death is not enough to force a ban on this dangerous habit, what will it take?
  • Ron Hextall has been the Flyers GM for only a few weeks, but he has already mastered the art of speaking the obvious. Over the weekend he actually said: “My philosophy is to draft the best player.” Really? And the other GMs are trying to draft what? The worst?

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