Before Kei Igawa's start on Friday night against the A's, there were whispers in the media that if he had another start like his first (5 innings, 7 earned against Baltimore) he could be sent to the minors. The Yankees paid $26 million to negotiate with Igawa then gave him a 4 year, $20 million deal. That's $46 million, 1 bad start, and 1 threat of demotion. The message, to Igawa and the rest of the team: you will be held accountable for your performance. There are no free passes in New York (Except for Jeter. You think Yankee fan would boo A-Rod if he had 5 errors in ten games?)
Meanwhile in Philadelphia, relief pitcher Ryan Madson, coming off a season in which he posted a 5.79 ERA, gave up game winning home runs in the first two games of the season. What was the Phillies response? A little bit of nothing. Some cliche comments about confidence and how Manuel "[has] to give him a chance." Those chances have resulted in 6 runs in 7 innings. Stellar. But will we hear talk of Madson getting traded, demoted, released, etc? No, because that is not the style of the Phightins. We're more likely to hear either 1) everything is fine and Madson is good because he had a good season 3 years ago or 2) it is somebody else's fault that Madson can't produce. Basically, he's not going anywhere. No one ever does...
It's not in the Phillies' nature to hold members of the organization accountable and be punitive for poor performance. Just take a look the last two seasons.
- In 2005, David Bell hit .248 with no power and played less than superb defense, yet he was given the starting job in '06 without competition or thought of change. The only challenger, Abe Nunez.
- Speaking of Abe Nunez, he hit .211 last year. Yet he's back on the team this year, so he can come in and play third in late innings and get the occasional start. They could have found someone else to do this and hit over .210, but it seems once you're on the squad, you're there until your contract is up or you are traded.
- Arthur Rhodes - Rhodes showed early last season that he didn't have it. Yet he pitched in 55 games, posting a 5.32 ERA. We could all see Rhodes wasn't going to turn it around. Could the Phils? Yeah, probably. They just don't do anything about it. It's easier for them to run a loser out to the mound 50 times and watch him implode than admit they made a mistake and pull the trigger on a move.
- Ryan Madson. No more excuses about going back and forth from starter to reliever being part of his problem. The problem is he sucks and he, the Phillies and his supporters can't forget 2004.
I'm a die-hard Yankee hater, but I think the Phillies could learn a lesson from the Bronx Bombers. Accepting poor performances from players and valuing past accomplishments, experience or other various intangibles over actual productivity has to stop. It seems they would rather have a team that they know is bad (Rhodes, Madson, Nunez) in favor of a team that might be good (so long Chris Coste, Clay Condrey.) At least we know what we are going to get...