Illogical superstition might cause some to believe that the Philadelphia Phillies return to the cellar is directly linked to former general manager Ed Wade's return. A certain chunk of Philadelphia's fan base clearly believed that specific person was directly responsible for the team's inability to earn a playoff berth in the past.
The factual signs of the Phillies' 2012 demise had been apparent for awhile. Baseball team's fortunes rise and fall in cycles. The improvement of divisional foes (like the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves), combined with the average age of key personnel, injury issues and off-years have all created what increasingly appears to be a sub-.500 finish this season.
Pat Gillick, the ever-classy former GM, specifically noted Wade's importance after the Phillies had beaten the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the 2008 National League Pennant.
Gillick then passed the proverbial torch to his understudy, Ruben Amaro, Jr., when he transitioned into retirement following the Halloween Day World Series victory parade.
The Phillies current front office boss has made many large electronic transfers since being promoted. Numerous minor league chips (that had been 'won' in-part through Wade's amateur draft efforts) were dealt for what some now see as high-priced quick fixes. Hunter Pence, one of the players who Wade traded to the Phillies when he was the Astros' GM, currently heads that list.
People can pin blame for the Phillies current situation on Amaro if they want to. It seems to me that he has consistently exhibited the personality of a leader who values his mentors and includes the input of his staff in the decision-making process.
Gillick, along with the legendary Dallas Green, continue to serve as Amaro's special advisers and he reached out to the Astros deposed GM (Wade) in the offseason to come home again. That was a good internal move. Hardcore fans understand that each season's collective organizational push won't end in a celebration, no matter what expectations may have been.
Forward, not back
The future looks bleak at the moment. However, I still like Amaro and believe that there is enough money available to him to help partially cover for farm system shortfalls moving forward.
Yes, dollars alone aren't everything. But, refocusing upon the minor league system will allow it to be restocked within a few years. From there, a new crop can feed the masses in the future.
The return of Wade, along with the contract extension of Cole Hamels, are the type of long-term balanced moves that Amaro must continue to make moving forward.
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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