Bynum fiasco wears on Sixers and fans alike
It's been a very tough winter for Philly sports fans, with the Sixers and Flyers currently out of the playoff hunt.
I actually feel worse for the Sixers, because at least they made an offseason move in a bold attempt to elevate the team to contender status.
The only problem was, it blew up royally in their faces.
I'm still shaking my head that center Andrew Bynum has yet to play a game for the club. What a ongoing fiasco that's been.
Almost everything this season was contingent on Bynum playing like he did last year with the Lakers, when he was an All-Star. The Sixers were well aware of his injury history, but Bynum only missed a handful of games with Los Angeles in 2011-12.
But after the euphoria of the trade died down -- in which the Sixers parted with Andre Iguodala and impressive young center Nikola Vucevic, among others -- it's been a never-ending stream of bad news.
First, it was announced Bynum would miss the beginning of the season. Then he was supposed to return after the All-Star break. Now the impending free agent may never play a game in a Sixers uniform.
As a result, the team has no inside presence to speak of, and is going to have to start from scratch in an effort to develop a more balanced, talented roster to complement Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner (if he's not traded) and Thaddeus Young.
Which means, of course, another rebuilding phase for fans to endure.
n Now for some positive news: In addition to the emergence of outfielder Domonic Brown, one of the better stories of Phillies spring training is the play of 21-year-old catcher Tommy Joseph.
The linchpin of last year's Hunter Pence trade, Joseph is almost certainly the heir apparent to Carlos Ruiz. And he's done nothing this spring to disabuse anyone of that notion, batting .462 in six games with two doubles, a homer and two RBIs.
Joseph also has impressed with his play behind the plate, throwing out base stealers and earning praise from none other than Roy Halladay for his game-calling ability and leadership skills.
The former second-round draft pick of the Giants will likely start the year at Double AA Reading, but I wouldn't be surprised if Joseph is ready for the majors as early as 2014.
The 34-year-old Ruiz is a free agent after this season, and I wonder if the Phils will hesitate to offer him more than a short-term contract (or sign him at all) because Joseph is waiting in the wings.
n Another decision that'll have to be made is whether to bring back Chase Utley.
Utley, also 34, hasn't played a full season since 2009.
If he only manages to play 80-100 games, I think it's time to let him go.
The Fightin's do seem to be better with him in the lineup, but half a season isn't a good enough return for a guy making $15 million.
However, Utley appears to be healthier than in the past few years, so if he can give the club 130-140 games, with some occasional rest for his ailing knees, it might be worth it to sign him to a new contract for a few years -- albeit a team-friendly one that pays him less than $15 million.
I have to say, seeing Utley in another team's uniform would be awfully weird.
He's one of those players who's a quintessential Phillie, and it would be nice if he could retire in the same city to which he helped bring a much-longed-for championship.
Paula Wolf is a staff writer for the Sunday News. Email her at email@example.com. She also blogs about sports at lancasteronline.com/blogs/wheelchairqb.