HEISER: Painful truth for York County Phillies' fans — season is dead on arrival


"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

— Andy Dufresne in "The Shawshank Redemption"

Those are nice enough sentiments, but it's pretty obvious that ol' Andy never met a 2015 Phillies fan.

Because right now, Citizens Bank Park is where hope goes to die.

Stop your average Phils' fanatic on the street in York County, and you can expect to hear two things dripping from his or her voice: anger and despair.

Phils' fans are angry that a team with the ninth-highest payroll in baseball (in excess of $135 million) is almost universally expected to lose in the neighborhood of 90-100 games this season. Never has so much been spent to produce so little.

And they're despondent that a franchise that was the envy of the big leagues just a few years back has now become an easy punchline to snarky jokes.

Monday's depressing 8-0 season-opening loss to the Boston Red Sox did nothing to allay the worst fears of local Phils followers.

The team did nothing offensively against a pitcher (Clay Buchholz) who had a 5.34 ERA last season. Meanwhile, the Phils' top pitcher (Cole Hamels) got rocked for four runs, including three homers, in just five innings.

They're on pace to go 0-162, score zero runs and bat under .100 for the season.

Yes, it's irrational to extrapolate an entire season from just a single game. But when you pile that sad opening result on top of already-dismal expectations, it's easy to get seriously somber about these Phils.

They entered the season as the longest of long shots to win the World Series, listed at 500-1 by the Vegas wise guys. No other team had odds of more than 120-1.

They have a lineup that lacks power, speed and the ability to get on base. The starters, aside from Hamels, are journeymen, at best. The bullpen has the potential to be decent, but when you're behind 4-0 after five innings, it doesn't much matter how good your bullpen is.

Other than that, things are just dandy in the City of Brotherly Love.

This futility might be bearable for local Phils' fans if there was a glimmer of hope for the future, but the team's minor league system has been ranked among the worst in baseball for a number of years. Right now, Baseball America puts the Phils' minor league system at No. 21 among 30 major league teams — and that's the highest rating the Phils have received in several years.

Add it all together, and it's a recipe for disaster, and that is just the kind of season the Phillies are facing — disastrous.

Who's to blame? Well that is one question that just about all Phils' fans can agree on.

His name is Ruben Amaro, the team's general manager.

In a 2014 stay-or-go poll on Philly.com, more than 93 percent of respondents wanted Amaro to go. And things have only gotten worse for the Phils since then.

Since he took over a World Series championship team in 2008, Amaro has presided over a long, steady slide into oblivion. He's signed declining players to monstrous contracts that now hang like anvils around the team's neck (see Howard, Ryan and Lee, Cliff). He's failed to draft any real big-time prospects. And nearly every trade he's made has failed to produce the desired results.

Still, for some unknown reason, he's kept his job.

As long as Amaro continues to call the shots, there's really no reason to expect anything to change with the Phils.

Even worse, there's really no reason to hope.

Ol' Andy Dufresne was right about one thing — hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.

But for the 2015 Phillies, hope is dead on arrival.

Steve Heiser is sports editor of The York Dispatch. He can be reached at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com.