We’ve all seen it, the quote that has defined the offseason for the Phillies.
The Phillies’ principal owner John Middleton was the one that uttered these words when he described the course of action the team was going to take during these winter months. The cringe-worthiness adjective/noun combination caused headaches among team executives, but allowed to fans to dream on what might be once spring training started in February.
Now here we are.
It’s February and we still have only seen smart, well thought out contracts doled out to players that can only help the team. David Robertson, Andrew McCutchen, those are not stupid money signings. These are the very definitions of fiscal responsibility that we see all too often these days from Ivy League-educated front offices. Even the trades Matt Klentak and company have made are of the kind that not only addressed financial issues, they addressed roster issues that have creeped up on the team. It’s so smart and such a good offseason so far that it makes me do a double take any time I see it.
Well I’m sick of it and I’m hear to make a bold statement: John Middleton has lied to us.
I believe I speak for most fans when I say this too. Not just those who are more analytically inclined, believing in the concept of putting the proper value on WAR/$, but to those who own a specific bar stool in a specific bar in a specific part of the city. The lunch-pail totin’, blue collar workers and the nerds avoiding sunlight in their parent’s basement, they’ve all come together to have this same opinion. It is together we can say in unison how we have been misled by the person who writes the checks, how our dreams have been dashed, have the promises have been broken.
Now, let’s be realistic too. We were never looking for these guys to sign quickly. They were entering this offseason facing the biggest financial decisions of their lives. They had earned the right to take their time, assess the landscape of the free agency market, take visits and then decide where they would spend the next eight to ten years calling home. But by now? With our owner, the famed “Steinbrenner South” openly telling us of the type of money he had planned to spend, you’re telling me we haven’t given the best terms for either of these guys, blowing smaller payrolled clubs like the White Sox and Padres out of the financial waters? Poppycock. We have been deceived, led astray, hoodwinked, all of it, and I lay that solely at the feet of Middleton.
Now, let’s be perfectly clear here - there is still time to be had. Any minute now, these players, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, could come swinging in on a chandelier, a Zorro mask on their face and saber in their hand (or eyeblack and a bat, whatever your analogy might be) and help ole’ Mr. Cigars save face. Heck, by this point, we basically consider those guys ours. Babies named Manny or Bryce have seen a marked increase since November and it’s no wonder why. People were trying to get ahead of the curve. All I can say is: at least those moms delivered because Mr. Middleton has not.
We are a fanbase that can tolerate a lot. Players like Jimmy Rollins failed to hustle on every single groundball, yet the team is throwing a party for him to retire this year. We tolerated Ryan Howard’s strikeout as long as he hit 50 home runs in clutch situations. What we cannot tolerate is being taken advantage of and that is exactly what is going on here. The greatest player of all time tried it with us, but we caught on.
We’ve seen no such signs of stupid money being tossed around with the reckless abandon of a child being introduced to spaghetti and meatballs. We’ve lost our belief in the decision makes on this team. With all this stupid money, I’ll believe it when I see it.
Prove us wrong, John. Prove us wrong...