I think you are being too easy on them!!
Ruben Amaro Jr. becoming GM was a huge mistake. He constantly went for the big bang without thinking of the consequences of huge contracts to old players and not signing or holding onto young players. The Phillies will only get worse. They're bad getting badder.Yeah, badder. I typed it.
But guys, Michael Martinez is in our system!
Preserve Jon’s ManifestoHe has Lee Thomas Syndrome.I think he's a good talent evaluator and is better suited in such a role. As far as managing a payroll effectively, his abilities leave much to be desired. His strategy is to hang on to veterans and fill gaps with talent groomed from within. Unfortunately, the Phillies have had great difficulty developing position players since the heady days of Rolen, Abreu (via trade as a minor leaguer), Rollins, Burrell, Utley, Howard and finally Ruiz. In those days, the team evaluated its farm system and saw they needed to invest in and develop cheap pitching in order to become a more successful franchise. This became their focus for the last 10-12 years and my honest assessment is that they've become quite good at it – Myers, Duckworth, Madson, Floyd, Hamels, Kendrick, Bastardo, Happ, and Geary-Condrey-Zagurski-Worley-Stutes (as brief role players). However, their focus on keeping pitching salaries manageable in the bullpen and at the bottom of their rotation has dissipated. They spend $60 million on their top three pitchers which is vastly superior to any other team in baseball and perhaps the most ever. While collecting three (and briefly four with Roy Oswalt, which didn’t work out) top flight pitchers looks great on paper, it limits your ability to put assets elsewhere. Those who watch closely know that the price for acquiring such top flight talent between 2008-2011 was steep. The gamble the organization made was that success at the MLB level would make the team a desirable destination for younger players. This turned out not to be the universal truth it was hoped to be. As recent draft picks have shown, the team is once again turning towards investing in position players. This is an organizational sine wave whose peaks and valleys should be compressed to comprise mutual investment in position players and pitching. I believe all teams, including the Phillies, strive to do this. Simply, it is not easy.The game has evolved and is always evolving. Teams have seen the wisdom in locking up their young players through their arbitration years. The free agent market is now reserved for players with a lot of mileage on them seeking legacy paydays and younger players only valuable in bit roles. Players over the age of 34 are not encountering the perils of aging more quickly than they were during the PED era. Rarely is affordable top-flight talent available. Parity in the league has increased and teams such as the Rays (the first to realize this), Pirates, Royals, Orioles, and Astros are no longer content developing players and sending them elsewhere because they perceive the light at the end of their tunnel of misery. I’m honestly not sure where the competitive advantage now lies. The era of Moneyball is over. Sabermetrics have been widely adopted and flat out rejected by other organizations. The result of applying statistical analysis to human factors has not proven invincible. Men are not machines – they get drunk the night before a game, get sick, injured, develop bad habits, and are influenced (naturally) by their personal life. For a while the Red Sox and Yankees leveraged their legacies and favorable television deals into short term success. The Angels and Dodgers have recently attempted to do the same, but in the short term their results have been middling. It seems the Phillies will attempt to do the same when their TV rights are renegotiated, but I’m not convinced that more money is the answer. I think that all teams are scrambling to find the “next best thing.” Sports are an excellent microcosm of capitalism and the marketplace is exceptionally competitive...
Part IIHaving grown up with the Phillies of the 1984-1992;1994-2005 ilk, as I assume many of you did, I reserve judgement on this team. They are not terrible, they are inconsistent. This is the hallmark of a team in decline, but that decline does not have to be precipitous, nor does the valley need to be deep. The team should manage its physical and financial assets. At this time it appears to be doing a modest job of both. The contracts of Howard, Halladay, Lee (yes), and Hamels (yes) are albatrosses that loom superior to their return in performance. However, there is potentially cheap talent wating in the wings. I have been impressed with Hernandez during his cup of coffee. Dominick Brown appears to be fulfilling his expectations. Mayberry is a known quantity, but is a serviceable 5th outfielder – not a fourth as he is currently being used. Jesse Biddle has major league potential that requires a year or two of seasoning. Darrin Ruf has shown pop, but is without a position and has few soft skills aside from power. Early in his career Pettiebone has shown he has major league stuff. This may be a .500 team for a year or two, but I have hope for the future. And as a fan, hope is an unquantifiable, but immensely valuable asset.
I HOPE you are right.
Good break down Jon.
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