Such a Herculean task it is to dissect the Philadelphia Phillies nowadays.
Nearly two months into the season, the Phillies continue to hug a sub-.500 record. Meanwhile, the front office continues to debate on whether or not their supposed plan is being implemented appropriately.
Whatever plan general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has for this club is not working. Simply put, he is at the forefront of the blame while skipper Charlie Manuel should be ousted for his debilitated decision-making.
A perfect example of the adverse decision-making on behalf of the Phillies skipper can be seen Tuesday night, when the Fightins square off against the Miami Marlins.
In 13 innings versus the Phils, Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez has yet to allow a run scored while giving up just three hits. Of those three hits Fernandez has permitted, two came off the bat of the switch-hitting utility man Freddy Galvis.
Despite the small sample size, it is evident that Galvis has had the most success any Phillie has had against Fernandez to date. However, he will be on the bench in this affair.
Instead, outfielder Delmon Young will get the nod.
Young is baseball's version of Napoleon Dynamite when it comes to defense. He is also struggling to stay above the Mendoza Line, batting-wise.
It's not like Amaro Jr. and Manuel have to be committed to Young. After all, Young is on a one-year contract worth a thrifty $750,000.
So what gives?
At the end of the day, the Phillies' decision to sit Galvis against Fernandez in favor of D. Young is representative of the porous decision-making the club has made over the course of the last two seasons.
Naysayer's with pie-in-the-sky attitudes will point out that the Phillies are a good series or two away from overtaking first place in the National League East.
Never mind their record against sub-.500 clubs as opposed to clubs with winning records.
Never mind the fact they have yet to take on the Washington Nationals.
Let's get one thing clear: The Phillies are in decline. Anybody who says otherwise is likely to still believe in the Tooth Fairy.
The window of opportunity to repeat the feat from 2008 closed in 2011. The door slammed shut when the Phillies gave up a 2-1 series lead over the St. Louis Cardinals. The nails were hammered in the coffin when the Phillies surged late last year only to have their postseason hopes dashed in a series sweep at the hands of the Houston Astros.
In-game mismanagement by Manuel coupled with questionable personnel decisions from Amaro Jr. have rendered the Phillies insignificant.
The sad reality is that the organization continues to string its fanbase along in similar fashion to the Philadelphia 76ers. After trading for center Andrew Bynum (and his two bad knees), Sixers ownership led fans down a path, all season long, to think that Bynum could play at some point.
As everyone knows, Bynum never debuted.
The Phillies will not make the playoffs, either.
The point is that the Phillies organization has made terrible decision after terrible decision. Sure, hindsight is always 20/20. Unfortunately, some of the moves the Phillies have made were called into question at the time they occurred.
For instance, the decision to trade Vance Worley and prospect Trevor May to Minnesota has turned out to be atrocious. Sure, Worley has been horrible for the Twins, but nobody could have forecast that at the time. So long as May develops into a serviceable No. 4 or 5 pitcher in the majors, the Twins soundly defeated the Phillies in this trade.
One has to wonder: Whose bright idea was it to trade arms for Major League Baseball's leader in ground-ball rate?
Regardless, the doom and gloom in South Philly is real. Fans oblivious to the mismanagement of this club can continue to think the Phillies have a shot to contend. Those who understand reality will just sit back, elbows crossed, and watch everything unfold for the worst.
Prior to the start of the season, many with realistic expectations believed the Phillies were an above-.500 club with a decent chance at cracking the postseason, even in the NL East.
Those expectations have now been altered. More likely than not, one can expect the Phillies to finish with a losing record for the first time since 2002. That was the year when Nelly's "Hot in Herre" could be heard on every radio station in America, George W. Bush was still in his first term as president and the United States had not yet invaded Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
As Charlie Chapman once said: "In the end, everything is a gag." Words couldn't speak truer for the current state of the Phillies.