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John Middleton: Let’s Get Stupid

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The Phillies haven’t signed a superstar yet, and the owner is looking for answers.

After the Washington Nationals signed free agent pitcher Patrick Corbin, Phillies owner John Middleton called a meeting with team president Andy MacPhail and general manager Matt Klentak to discuss how the team’s offseason plans were progressing.

Thanks to a super-duper secret inside source within the organization, I was able to get a transcript of that conversation.

Middleton: Thank you for coming gentlemen. I want to get right to the point here. I’ve been tracking what other teams have been doing, and I have just one question: WHY AREN’T WE SPENDING MONEY???

MacPhail: John, I don’t know what else to say. The offseason is a slow burn. But it’s not like we haven’t done anything. We thought you’d be happy about the Jean Segura trade.

Middleton: Oh I’m sorry. Woo hoo. We got Jean Segura. Let me guess, our ticket office phones have been ringing off the hook this week because fans are SO excited that we got Jean friggin’ Segura!

How about you stop patting yourselves on the back about getting Jean Segura, and start signing a real star?

Baltimore Orioles v Seattle Mariners
Jean Segura mania has overtaken Philadelphia
Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

MacPhail: John, you know we can’t just go out and immediately sign these guys. There are a lot of other teams out there who want these players too.

Middleton: They don’t want them as much as I do! I wanted Patrick Corbin! I said we wouldn’t be outbid for Patrick Corbin! But did we get Patrick Corbin?

Klentak: Our statistical models indicate that a six year deal for Corbin would have been counterproductive. There’s a 93.4% chance that his performance will significantly decline throughout the lifetime of the deal and that will be detrimental for our long term dollars-to-win ratio.

Middleton: Statistical models? I’ve got a statistical model for you. It says that a team in the National League East just signed the best pitcher on the market, and it wasn’t us!

We can’t let the Nationals get away with that! Call up Boras and offer Bryce Harper $500 million!

Klentak: (Gasps) Sir, $500 million is way out of line with what our projections for his value will be. For instance, if you closely examine his wRC+ and Win/Loss percentage with an average team trends over the past three years-

Middleton: Damn it, Klentak! I’ve told you to speak English when you’re talking to me! Andy, what’s he saying?

MacPhail: He’s trying to say that Harper isn’t going to provide $500 million of value to the team on the field.

Middleton: Yeah, and what about the value he’s going to provide at the pro shop? I’ve already got thousands of Harper jerseys ready to sell as soon as we sign him. We need to get them into the stores before Christmas!

New York Mets v Washington Nationals
Harper jerseys are sure to be a top seller this holiday season
Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

MacPhail: We appreciate that marketing does play a part, but we simply can’t rush these things.

Middleton: Can’t rush things? You certainly rushed signing Carlos Santana last year! That turned out to be a real game changer, huh?

Klentak: Actually, Carlos Santana’s high walk rate and number of pitches seen lined up well with the numbers of elite first basemen across baseball. The numbers indicate that the problem didn’t necessarily lie with Santana, but with-

Middleton: The problem is that we spent all that money on a first baseman, and all he could do is take a damn walk. I’ll be honest with you, when you approached me about it, I was so excited that we might actually spend money on someone that I didn’t bother to check who you were signing. And when I heard you talk about Carlos Santana, I thought we were putting on some sort of post game concert.

MacPhail: I think you will be happy to hear that we had a lengthy conversation with Manny Machado’s agents yesterday, and-

Middleton: Unless this sentence ends with “and we agreed on terms,” I’m not going to be as happy as you think.

MacPhail: The main hold up seems to be that Machado wants to play shortstop, and now that we have Segura, we’re not sure-

Middleton: Are you serious? Are you seriously about to tell me that the reason we haven’t signed Manny Machado because we have Jean Segura?

Let me tell you something: I didn’t swindle my sister out of her inheritance so I could accommodate Jean Segura. I did it so that I could one day give a star like Manny Machado enough money to buy a small country!

World Series - Boston Red Sox v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Five
Manny Machado may not be the best shortstop around, but he’ll soon be very rich
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Klentak: But our models tell us that Segura’s defensive zone range coverage numbers are far superior to Machado’s. Furthermore-

Middleton: Do your models tell you that I’m about to punch you in the face if you say the name Segura one more time?

I’m done playing around here, gentlemen! I said I wanted to be stupid about spending money, and I meant it! I don’t want to hear why we shouldn’t sign these guys, I want to back a couple of Brinks trucks up to their houses and have them tell us when to stop unloading!

Let me be clear: The next time we meet, I want to be talking about how we’ve signed either Harper or Macahdo, or preferably both! Otherwise, I’m going to be very upset. Do you understand?

MacPhail and Klentak: Yes sir.

Middleton: Good! (Storms out the door)

MacPhail: Well, I guess we better go make some calls.