You put your Utley in, You put your Utley out.
You Put your Papelbon in and you shake it all about
You do the Phillies pokey and you turn your luck around
That's what it's all about!
I sang this on Sirius XM this morning, before the Phillies and Cole Hamels beat the Nationals to pull within 5.5 games of the wild card, and 1 game of .500
Yeah, I believe. Yeah, I'm enjoying this. And no, I don't think theres a chance in hell the Phillies are going to sell much more than Michael Young at the deadline (for reasons I'll divulge shortly), and I'm realistic about my expectations that they probably won't make the playoffs.
But I have a message: If you're letting the future invade the present, if you're thinking about run differential when Hamels is striking out Ryan Zimmerman with the bases loaded, If you're worried about the implications of Ryan Howard's contract while Ben Revere's batting average is soaring, I feel sorry for you.
STOP IT NOW!!
I KNOW THAT IT WAS ENGRANED IN YOU AT A YOUNG AGE TO BE PESSIMISTIC WHEN IT COMES TO PHILADELPHIA SPORTS TEAMS!!!
BUT SERIOUSLY, STOP IT!!! RIGHT NOW!!!
BECAUSE THE PHILLIES ARE NOT SELLING!! NOT NOW, AND NOT EVER!!
At least, not the way you're reading about.
This was gonna be kind of short guys, and it kind of got long, so bear with me, but here's the nuts and bolts. Fans, both smart and casual, Saber and traditional can debate the merits of selling for the future all day long but there's one thing that no one seems to be discussing, and no one seems to be thinking about here, that I think needs to be said.
The ownership group will not allow that kind of a rebuild to happen.
And as a fan, you should really, really be happy about that. I endured decades of shitty teams who didn't spend anything. and they sucked for a long long time. They were filled with someone's didn't wants, another guy's never were's, and a few he's still arounds?. Occasionally there was a light. A young shining light. He rarely amounted to shit.
The Phillies are run by a very savvy, very deep pocketed group of people. These people built an amazing stadium, and committed billions of dollars to turn a really crappy franchise into a perennial powerhouse.
And they have no intention of suddenly changing that philosophy. Whether you think it's right or wrong.
At the same time, they realize they've made mistakes. Trust me, they know how bad Ryan Howard's contract is. They realize that trading for Hunter Pence wasn't the smartest move. They see Jonathan Singleton playing at AAA for Houston, then look over at the gaping hole at 1B and wish they could take that back.
But they have enough money coming off the books this year to spend the way they want to in the off-season, and they didn't hamper themselves into any real long term bad deals last off-season, either.
They saw the way the fans reacted tonight when Hamels mowed down Zimmerman and Werth with the bases loaded. That's the reason they extended him last year instead of letting him walk or trading him.
And a team doesn't commit like that one year, when they're 17 games out, with the idea that they'll sell the next.
It's not to say they're perfect. They turn the cheek to analytics, and if they fired Ruben I suspect they'd replace him with a clone, rather than someone with a radical thought process. And I can almost understand that. You interview two guys. Both equally competent, both equally recommended, with completely different philosophies. One tells you he knows exactly what to do to fix the problem now and can make the team a contender right away with a few smart changes in personnel and free agency. He identifies the mistakes of his predecessor and speaks of what he would have done instead and it sounds so easy. The other tells them that the best way to do this is to completely revamp the way the entire organization thinks. A total house cleaning with a completely different emphasis on everything. It'll take 3 to 5 years, but once it sticks, it'll be amazing.
Which one would you hire with a cable contract looming, season ticket sales decreasing, and revenue dropping?
All that said, they're committed to winning. It doesn't mean that they'll do it every year, nor does it mean that you should expect them to. And it doesn't mean that they won't do something similar to what they did last season if it gets a lot worse.
But what did they do last season? They let go of assets they weren't bringing back this year when they were clearly out of it. Like 15 games back of the division, and 9 teams in front of them for the wild card out of it.
So to believe for an instant that they'll sell if they're anywhere near .500 at the deadline is just silly talk. Not this group. And to believe that they'll sell off and rebuild with young guys and stock the farm system with a bunch of lottery tickets is kind of crazy talk.
And you should be HAPPY ABOUT THAT!
Don't take this the wrong way but if that's what you want to see you're rooting for the wrong franchise.
But they'll buy smarter than ever for a few reasons.
The first is that if Ruben sells valuable assets like Franco, and misses the playoffs? He loses his job. Simple as that. And he's not that stupid. So all of those really good prospects you're worried about? Unless you end up netting Stanton out of it, they aren't going anywhere.
The second is that for all his faults, for all his trades that didn't work out, Ruben Amaro has traded for Halladay, Lee, Oswalt, and Pence, and not once has he given up the guy they all wanted in those deals. Even the Pence deal. He gave up Singleton, Cosart and Santana as much to keep Brown as anything else.
The third? If you analyze the deals Ruben has made, the buy deals, sans Pence? He's done really, really well. There isn't a superstar in that bunch.
He's really not that good at selling, though. Really, he's not. And contracts, free agency? Yeah, he could do better there. But I trust him more to buy than to sell.
And honestly if they buy it won't be big. They're not in splash mode. They're in try and pick up someone to put us over the hump mode. A reliever, maybe an upgrade in the OF, maybe a starter, but it won't be huge.
Think names like Fabian Castro, Brian Schlitter, Matt Spencer, Josh Outman and Adrien Cardenas. Remember them? Aside from Cardenas and Outman I don't.
Those guys netted Kyle Lohse, Joe Blanton, Scott Eyre and Matt Stairs. Remember those guys?
They started this run and brought a world championship.
But they're not selling Cliff Lee. And they're probably not selling Papelbon, and for my two cents, there's no way in hell they move Utley.
Doesn't make it wrong, doesn't make it right. Doesn't mean I agree (with Papelbon I don't) Just makes it what it is.
And for me that all comes down to money. Everyone says you trade those guys because of what they cost. Once again, right or wrong, here's the truth.
The Phillies ownership group doesn't care how much money they spend, they care about how much money they make. They care about winning, about filling Citizens Bank Park, about putting a quality show on, about selling merchandise, and about giving YOU something to cheer about. And you should feel damn lucky to be a fan of that kind of organization. They care about not throwing good money after bad money, mind you, but they don't have any problem paying Cliff Lee $25mm a year. And they really don't care what they pay Papelbon. Not if they're winning, and not if they're earning their salary.
Money is what makes this franchise go around, not what cripples it.
When the hail starts falling, and the thunder wont stop? Then you can shut the window. Right now, it's a gorgeous night, there's a cool breeze, and I'm sleeping with that bitch open. And I'm not closing it till the hard stuff comes down.
You do what you want, just remember though, if you already think it's shut, you might just miss out on the last little bit of sunshine for a while.
So do yourself a favor and trust me on this one. Stop asking what they'll do till we get closer (even though this is what they'll do) and enjoy this glorious run while you can.