The Phillies never used to be mentioned in the same breath as the New York Yankees when it came to payroll or their philosophy in how they do business. The Phillies at most times prior to 2008 were also not that successful at winning ball games and pennants.
Prior to the Phillies team that won it all in baseball in 2008, the Phils primarily brought up players from it’s minor league system and replaced players that way rather than assembling a team of high paying free agents as they have been doing recently.
If fact a lot of the players that the Phillies have on the team are ‘home grown’ players who have turned into superstars and are in demand for high salaries. The additions of Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt, and two seasons before with Cliff Lee, isn’t really what we’ve seen from previous GM’s of the Phillies. These types of moves have been associated with the Ruben Amaro Jr. GM reign.
2011 will be the third season after the World Series win by the Phillies. The Phils got into the World Series in 2009 against the Yankees, but couldn’t win it back to back. 2010 was an interesting season that was an eye opener to those that followed the Phillies. At times during the season, the team played as if it weren’t going to the playoffs at all, and Amaro actually said he was considering a ‘break up’ of the team. He instead added Roy Oswalt rather than moving anyone, and eventually the Phillies righted the ship and had an outstanding September that blew the doors off of the Atlanta Braves and propelled the Phillies into their fourth straight NL East crown.
Chase Utley used to be the best all around player on the Phillies but last season proved that he was no longer that best player. Roy Halladay eclipsed him in the ranking as accumulated on Baseball-Reference.com. You didn’t need BR to know that Chase was not his usual reliable self in the playoffs though. All you needed to do is look at the box score and look at the .BA of most of the Phillies players and you would have seen the problem.
Just the year before in 2009, third baseman Pedro Feliz was roundly criticized for his post-season performance. Feliz batted .214 in the NLDS, .118 in the NLCS, and .174 in the World Series. He was allowed to walk away from the team as they didn’t want to resign him, despite his great defense and somewhat decent regular season. Instead, the Phillies brought in Placido Polanco.
In the 2010 playoffs, when it counted for an unprecedented third World Series appearance in a row by the Phils, the team just fell short of their goal. In the 2010 NLCS, the Phils faced a younger and more hungry San Francisco Giants team and their one man wrecking crew, Cody Ross. Ross was able to do just about whatever he wanted against the Phillies, but that is the topic of another blog post, so let’s look at the batting in the NLCS. Chase Utley batted .182 for the series, he got 4 hits in 22 at bats, and had one RBI for the whole series. Ryan Howard turned into a singles and double hitter and had a BA of .318, he had no HR or no RBI in the NLCS. In 12 of 22 at bats, Ryan Howard struck out in the NLCS. These are the two guys you expect some sort of greatness from and there was nothing.
The Phillies payroll is and interesting read as well. Ryan Howard is due to expand his bankroll to $25 million per year in the 2012 season, that is after he makes $20 million for this upcoming season and already $19 million last year. Chase Utley is at $15.286 million this year and was at $15.286 million last year, but as stated in the paragraph above, between the both players they could only must one RBI in the NLCS and no homeruns. It’s really amazing to look at the really high salaries and how the Phillies never really have had this many players on the team making all of this money at one time.
A call from some fans has been that the Phillies are no better than the style of baseball promoted by the NY Yankees, that is for the most part go out and throw a lot of money at a free agent and assemble that winning machine. It’s time for the annual Winter meetings soon, and we’ll see what happens with the Phillies team after that happens. It is expected to be quiet. Read an interesting article from the Inquirer here from Bob Brookover.