“I am such an optimist that when I was 5 or 6 I was asked what I would do if I were faced with a dung heap. And I answered that I would start digging into it because I suspected that at the bottom there was a pony!”

— President Ronald Reagan

By David F. Cohen

If you are a Phillies fan this morning you have to feel that yesterday’s no-hitter and win over the Mets was the pony at the bottom of the dung heap that the 2014 season has been.

But unfortunately for the Phillies, Monday’s no-hitter only counted for one win. The Phillies only have 63 for the season — the fourth-fewest in the National League — and are in last place trailing the Washington Nationals by a 15 games in the NL East.

Are we back to reality yet?

Despite the team’s greatest accomplishment this season, it still needs to make significant changes to reach the postseason for the first time since 2011. Fortunately, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. finally acknowledged that publicly before Monday’s game.

“I think we need it,” Amaro (texting while the season burns in photo above with manager Ryne Sandberg) told “What we have on our roster right now isn’t working. How much we do depends on what makes sense for us. We’re still assessing what we have, but I think it behooves us to look to make changes because we need to be better.”

Really, Ruben? What was your first clue?

And as far as the Phillies being better they might start with replacing the witless GM who somehow managed to find a team to take John Mayberry Jr. off his hands, trading him to Toronto.

Why did he not make any trades before the July 31 trade deadline? Why did he not move anybody but reserve outfielder Mayberry before the Aug. 31 trade deadline?

Perhaps he tried. Perhaps he couldn’t.

Due in large part to Amaro, the Phillies are loaded with high-priced, veteran players with no-trade clauses and huge contract options. Plus, virtually all of them are way past their prime. What other team would want them?

At this point, Amaro’s best option would be to build for the future — beginning today when 15 players from Triple-A Lehigh Valley are added to the 40-man active roster. Let’s see what those highly touted minor-leaguers such as third baseman Mikael Franco and relief pitcher Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez can do.

We already know what every-day veterans Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd can do, so give them some rest. The same goes for veteran pitchers A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick and Jonathan Papelbon, especially if they are not in the team’s future.

Bring on the babies.

What’s the worst thing that could happen? The Phillies lose another game or fans in the stands? Big deal.

Then, once this dismal season finally comes to an end, try to unload as many overpaid, underperforming veterans as possible, even if the Phillies must pay part of their exorbitant salaries.

How else are they going to acquire young talent for the major-league roster and replenish a barren farm system?

Go, Ruben, go.

Let’s have another toast: “To the future!”


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