Opportunities: Winning vs. Losing Teams

Our IronPigs came into town in 2008. The team’s record was horrible. They lost, they lost more, they lost even more.

Someone once told me that a winning Major League club led to winning Minor League affiliations. I don’t believe that.

Back in 2008, the Phillies were hot. They won the World Series that year and had stars at almost every position. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and a dominant pitching staff. There was no call up room.

In 2008 we accepted losing because the parent club was winning. Then in 2009 the Phils lost the World Series and we accepted losing a bit less. Then in 2010 the Phillies lost in the playoffs and losing became miserable. In 2011 we got Ryne Sandberg as the IronPigs’ manager! Who cares what the Phillies did in 2010! The IronPigs went to the International League Finals! In 2012 we kept Sandberg and well, it was about .500. We kept the faith. Then we lost Sandberg and the Phillies and IronPigs both were achieving average/below average records.

It goes with Minor League baseball, each year we get to know and love these players and each year they change. Now and then we get an Andy Tracy or Rich Thompson who stick around a while. We follow their careers and root for them to get that coveted promotion to the bigs.

In 2008, we understood there was no room on the Phillies roster for them. Solid position players winning games left no room for a prospect or long term minor leaguer to move up. Winning baseball kept the opportunities slim. An idea passed to me once was that winning at the big league level led to winning at the minor league level. Good players would stay in the minors and help the local team win. Sans that one winning season, the IronPigs didn’t get the winning team impact. They lost and they lost bad.

Now we are in 2015. The Phillies have become the stinker of the NL East division and despite some off season moves, the roster up top still has those doorstops keeping younger players and prospects in the minors. The reasons for those healthy, able and long term minor league players not getting a chance with the Phillies are still there. Hanging on to players hoping to eke out a few more years of production and giving failing prospects more time than they deserve leave our Lehigh Valley rosters at risk.

What risk to the IronPigs’ roster? Risk of losing quality players to teams willing to give them a chance. Losing Rich Thompson to the Ray’s organization and he immediately got a shot in the bigs. A few years back Jason Grilli, DeWayne Wise, Brandon Moss, Ryan Vogelsong. All once IronPigs. Once all could have received the call to the Phillies, but didn’t.

There is a lot of talent at the Phillies AA and AAA level. A lot of talent that hasn’t been tested in Philadelphia. A lot of talent that needs to play every day at that level, not just a weeks worth of pinch hitting to show a true estimate of their capabilities. Unfortunately, in the culture that I see right now… that isn’t going to happen. Us fans will continue to lose good players to trade demands, opt outs and sadly retirements.

Our only question should be… who’s next?

Us IronPig fans want to win on every level, not just continuously “Prepare for the Future.”


Categories: Lehigh Valley IronPigs

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