Uram: Matt Klentak Is Kidding Himself

Photo Credit To Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports

After Eagles minicamp breaks, the Birds will be off until training camp in late July. The only action a Philadelphia sports fan will be able to look forward to is the NBA and NHL drafts (expansion and entry), as well as 76ers summer league.

That’s all. Phillies baseball doesn’t make the cut.

At this point, you usually known the ending to a Phils game in 2017, a loss featuring sub par pitching and inconsistent offense. Maybe occasionally you’ll get a four game winning streak like the one that started June, but it’ll be followed by eight losses in a row, as is the case heading into Thursday night.

The city is numb to losing. It’s as common as waking up everyday and going to work. But, losing with a roster that, for the most part, won’t be the same when the team hopefully starts to compete again, is tough to muster.

So when General Manager Matt Klentak continues to preach that the Phils front office is dishing “the proper balance between the present and future,” he’s misunderstood.

Fans pay their hard earned money for tickets, whether season or single game. They expect to see at least an entertaining, competitive product on the field and it’s Klentak’s job to make sure that happens, especially at this point in the Phils rebuild, which he inherited.

After starting 11-9, the Phillies are the exact opposite.

A good balance doesn’t exist if Klentak feels a .200 hitting Michael Saunders is worth keeping around, especially when the right fielder hit .244 in April, .209 in May and .038 in June. He’s getting worse.

A good balance doesn’t exist if Klentak assumes $17 million Jeremy Hellickson going 1-5 in his last nine starts with an ERA the size of Jupiter is OK.

A good balance doesn’t exist with that bullpen, which just added Casey Fien, an example Klentak used when talking about putting new guys on the 40-man roster. Klentak is really using 33-year-old journey man Fien to help his argument for a conservative approach with his succeeding prospects?

Klentak said on Wednesday, “But for right now, with the way the roster is going, with us carrying 13 pitchers, and with Daniel Nava playing well, this is a perfectly fine set-up for right now.”

Meantime, the kids in the minor leagues remain much more interesting than those on the big league club. In fact, the most interesting players on the Phillies right now are Ben Lively and Nick Pivetta, two prospects who wouldn’t be up if it wasn’t for injuries.

Even though Cesar Hernandez is out for at least six weeks, Klentak won’t promote a thriving Scott Kingery from AA to the majors. Even though Howie Kendrick moved from left field to second base, Klentak’s replacement for left field is another journey man in Nava, rather than an improving Nick Williams. Klentak admitted that Tommy Joseph’s sudden surge is a reason Rhys Hoskins is still in AAA.

Klentak’s not only doing a disservice to the major league product, but the future core pieces of the team as well, by denying them a chance to get extra experience at the big leagues, feasible by a lack of production from the Phils and the success of the kids in the minors.

The Yankees are one of baseball’s biggest surprises this year, thanks to a healthy mix of veterans and youth, anchored by the super stardom of Aaron Judge, who’s August call-up last year played a huge part in his dominance this season.

It appears Brian Cashman knows what he’s doing. The Yanks general manager recently promoted top prospect Gleyber Torres from AA to AAA, even though the infielder was hitting .273 in 32 games, the 20-year-old’s only action at that level. Clearly, there’s no book to promoting prospects.

Who do you trust more, Klentak or four time World Champ Cashman?

Before I forget…

-Is there a negative aspect to the Jason Peters extension? The Eagles save cap money this year and Peter is happy. The one argument someone opposed to this could make it it prolongs Lane Johnson’s transition from right to left tackle. So what? If Johnson stays out of trouble, the Birds sport two very good tackles on both sides of the line. And, if Doug Pederson needs to, he can shift Peters inside and Johnson to right tackle. Just like Peters said, “You can either try to win a Super Bowl, or you can save money.”

-Who is giving Marcus Smith guidance? The defensive end didn’t appear to realize how silly it was for him to miss voluntary organized team activities as someone as low on the Eagles depth chart as he. Many surmised that Smith was indicating he wanted to be released by missing OTAs. He denies that, but if in fact that was true, common sense says you don’t upset the people who make those decisions. I hope those iPad sessions he had at home pay off during training camp and the preseason. It appears he’s going to need all the help he can get.

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Keith Pompey is reporting there are still “whispers” about the Kings packaging picks No. 5 and No. 10 for the 76ers No. 3. Do they deal, Bryan Colangelo! I’ll reiterate the only way the Sixers are good is if Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are healthy. This draft should be about need, and they can fill two of them with two Top 10 picks.

-LeBron James said after losing the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors that he was never on a “super team.” OK, so I guess he never did a televised program to say he was going to the Heat or reveal in a Sports Illustrated article his return to Cleveland. Give me a break.

-According to Sam Carchidi of The Philadelphia Inquirer, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall hasn’t engaged in contract negotiations with soon-to-be free agent Steve Mason. Does that mean Michal Neuvirth is the starting goaltender going into next year? Does Hextall remember that Mason was the guy who called the team out for its play, which sparked a late, but unrealistic push the playoffs?


Dave Uram in a weekly contributor to Philly Influencer. You can follow him on Twitter (@MrUram) or email him at

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