Say what you want about the Philadelphia Phillies and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., they’re not worried about perceptions. The organization’s relentless pursuit of players approaching their 40s is both funny and sad at the same time, but people affiliated with the team still seem to believe in what they’re doing, or at least they act like it.
Take Marlon Byrd, one of the newest members of Philly’s 35-and-older crowd. Our sources tell us the Byrd can give Amaro a run for his money on the shuffleboard court, and the veteran outfielder is already challenging for who can make the most upbeat comments about the 2014 Phillies.
In fact, Byrd’s talents in this area might be unrivaled. Why, he’s only been here a couple of months and has already moved on to making delusional statements about the age inside the clubhouse. Via Corey Seidman for CSNPhilly.com:
"All of us do. You keep hearing old, old, old ... we're not an old team," Byrd said. "We can still play. Once you can't play, then you're old. We still have a lot in the tank, we just to have to show that and stay healthy.
"If I was a fan I'd rather have Robinson Cano, I'd rather have [Masahiro] Tanaka. I want those guys. Ruben [Amaro Jr.] wants the guys who he thought would help his team.
"And until we get on the field and actually get to show it ... the fan base is kinda looking at this team like, 'In two years we need to get back to the promised land, we need 10 Robinson Canos. We need the best lineup and a whole staff full of Tanakas.'
"I think they'll be happy once we get on the field and start to produce."
I tend to be something of a Phillies apologist at this point in time. Amaro is trying to do the best he can with the costly, aging core he left himself, and yeah, if miraculously everyone stays healthy, Byrd might be right—this team could surprise a few fans.
To pretend they aren’t an old team though is outrageous. If Byrd wants to debate whether old is a bad thing or not, there are plenty of folks willing to have that debate, but how do you even respond to somebody who flat out denies that by Major League ballplayer standards the Phillies are friggin’ ancient?