Klentak discusses Phillies' disappointing start

May 22nd, 2017
Phillies GM Matt Klentak on the team's early struggles:"We'll pull out of it. ...That's what talented players will do." (Getty)

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies general manager Matt Klentak said he is frustrated by his team's poor play, but he is taking the long view about the organization's rebuild and is not rushing to judgment about anybody based on seven weeks of a six-month season.

After Monday's 8-1 loss against the Rockies, the Phillies hold a 15-27 record. It is their worst start since 2000 (14-27).

"There is more talent on this team than we've shown," Klentak said. "We'll pull out of it. We will. That's what talented players will do. I'm not going to tell the fans they shouldn't be frustrated. We've gone through a tough stretch."

Klentak touched on numerous topics Monday:

Regression. The Phillies jumped to a 24-17 start last season because of a strong rotation, but Phillies starters have pitched fewer than six innings 24 times.

"I'm not ready to call it regression," Klentak said. "I think there's been a lack of consistency on our team in general. Some players more than others. But especially for young players, two months is a relatively small sample size to categorize it as regression. But I do think building a team that performs consistently is very important."

The blame game. Frustrated fans are looking for somebody to blame for the team's poor pitching and some have focused on pitching coach Bob McClure. Klentak praised McClure's job performance.

"There can be organizational blame if we want to look at it that way," Klentak said. "It's never about one person. One of the things that is so good about Bob, he is outstanding at working with young players and understanding the long game with young players. How we make sure we get enough rest and how we take care of them. 

"He's been through this before. He was a key part in the development of a lot of the Royals pitchers that led to the successes they've had over the last few years. So I'm absolutely not pointing any fingers at Bob.

"The topic of Bob's job security has not come up because it's not an issue. I talk to Bob plenty, and that does not come up."

Vinny to the pen?Vince Velasquez has not progressed as expected. The idea that he could be a dominant reliever has been alive for years, but Klentak said that move is not imminent.

"For right now, we're committed to finding out what he can do in the rotation," Klentak said. "We've seen it. We've seen it in the early parts of last year and we've seen it in parts of this year where he has that 'ah-ha' moment where this guy is in the role that he's meant to be in. It hasn't been a clear path exactly. He's had some bumps along the way, but most pitchers do, especially when they get to the big leagues for as young as he was when he got here.

"We are very much committed to him being a starter. If over the course of time we're forced to make an adjustment, then we will. We're not going to be rigid in our decision-making. But right now, we're not there."

The kids! The kids! It seems the moment a player struggles fans want somebody from the Minor Leagues to replace him. But anybody expecting a massive roster restructuring should not hold their breath. Quite simply, it makes no sense.

"We're open-minded if they can come up and help the club," Klentak said. "I've said many times before if we're going to call players up from the Minor Leagues we want them to play, especially our more talented players. If they're going to come up to the Major Leagues we want them to have an opportunity to continue their development with at-bats or innings. But calling them up to sit on the bench doesn't make a lot of sense."