One of the main reasons Chuck LaMar left the Phillies was the lack of importance placed on the draft.
That decision to downplay the importation of young talent is going to haunt the Phillies in the future.
They’re paying in currency now but will also pay in practicality later.
They’ve gutted the farm system to try and win now and have eschewed paying hefty bonuses to their draft picks, instead choosing to select singable players; now they’ve overpaid to keep Ryan Madson after he spent one season as their full-time closer and the importance of draft picks is being proffered as a reason for the intelligence of this maneuver.
It’s not true.
Because of their payroll limitations, GM Ruben Amaro had to make a choice whether to allocate a certain amount of money to the big league product and the required amount to maintain the pipeline of young players to collect and trade. He was roasted for trying to be everything to everyone in the botched Cliff Lee for Roy Halladay series of trades as he sought to reinvigorate the farm system while acquiring a pitcher as good or better than Lee while knowing he’s signed and will be a Phillie for an extended period.
It sort of made sense.
But it didn’t work and he had to fill the hole in the rotation the trade created by dealing for Roy Oswalt and then signed Lee as a free agent after the 2010 season.
Amaro’s gone a totally different way and is ignoring the future to win now.
This renders ludicrous the explanation that the Phillies are keeping Madson (for a reported $44 million over 4-years with a $13 million option for a 5th) and holding onto the draft picks they would’ve surrendered for signing a Jonathan Papelbon.
The draft has become irrelevant to the Phillies.
Despite suggestions to the contrary, the Phillies are not going after Jose Reyes; they’re spending their money to keep the likes of Madson, have signed Jim Thome and perhaps will grab Michael Cuddyer; Reyes will be in for a cursory visit and as a threat to Jimmy Rollins that Rollins can be replaced if he’s unreasonable in his demands, but the Phillies aren’t going to remove the leader of the group—Rollins—in favor or Reyes, partially because of Reyes’s pricetag; partially because they’re not going to disrupt the clubhouse with Reyes, who’s never won anything; has recurrent hamstring woes; and might beget a contagion of what ails the Mets into the Phillies organization.
Let’s say Cuddyer costs $30 million over 3-years; Rollins accepts 4-years at $48 million; plus the Madson contract; then they have to re-sign Cole Hamels, Chase Utley and Hunter Pence in the coming years.
Once all that’s completed, these are the Phillies for the foreseeable future.
They’re running low on prospects with limited help on the horizon because of these neglectful, shot-in-the-dark drafts.
By 2013-2014 they’re going to be very expensive; very old; and on the downslide.
This concept that they’re “saving draft picks” is torpedoed by facts. They’ve spent almost nothing in the draft in the past several years while clubs like the Nationals have spent heavily to sign their draft picks. And you’ll see the results of this error in formative organization-maintenance as the Nationals rise and the Phillies fall.
The Phillies will still be contenders for a championship in 2012 and probably 2013, but the depletion of the farm system will lead to the spiral. It’s understandable and inevitable.
Don’t take at face value the explanations for the Madson contract—it’s too much money for a still-unproven commodity with terrible mechanics. They could’ve and should’ve gone after Papelbon instead; he’s more expensive, but he’s a championship-level closer and would’ve been a better buy for what the Phillies currently are…and will be.