The Phillies Spend Bad Money After Bad Money

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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.

In theory.

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.

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13 thoughts on “The Phillies Spend Bad Money After Bad Money

  1. The Phillies draft pick logic also falls flat because by signing Papelbon and losing Madson after a declined offer of arbitration they would have lost their 1st round pick to the Sox but gained the 1st round pick of the team Madson signed with, along with a supplemental 1st round pick, making the move draft pick positive.

  2. Ruben Amaro is going to turn the Phillies into the Astros before its all said and done. Once this group’s run is over it will be a long time before they will compete again. Washington, Atlanta, Miami, & the Mets assuming the ownership situation straightens out all could be better than te Phillirs in the medium to long term.

    1. I understand what he’s doing and it’s not him that’s framing it in this way of “saving draft picks”. The logic people are using is faulty and absurd. They’re no longer concerned with the draft because they don’t have the money to pay for big time prospects—everything’s into the big league product.

      1. The recent drafts of the Phils have proven to be very good in the pitching department(Vance Worley,Antoino Bastardo) but terrible for position players. Jason Donald, Lou Marson,Greg Golson,Michael Taylor have not lived up to the hype they received. Carlos Carrasco and Michael Bourn are the only minor league prospects that have established themselves in the Majors. Let us not forget Dominic Brown, their superstar prospect has been a bust so far.

      2. Bastardo was an amateur free agent. I wouldn’t worry about the players they traded—they served their purposes and got the Phillies established, star big leaguers in return. Brown was a 20th round pick and any player taken that late is a stroke of luck or a tools guy who panned out; Worley was a great 3rd round pick.
        But those selections were made while other factors were in play. Mike Arbuckle and Chuck LaMar were around to supervise the draft and the big league club’s payroll hadn’t bloated to the proportions it has now. They’re neglecting the draft for financial reasons and it’s gonna cost them. Big time.

  3. So let’s see
    Phillies, next season, have Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Cliff Lee, and Chase Utley on the payroll, good for almost $77 million right there.

    Madsen just was signed, assumedly for another $11 million a year (pushing $88 million now for 5 players, one of which is coming off a torn ACL, one of which will pitch 60 innings).

    So this is the de-facto nucleus in 2012-13. Add in Cuddyer for the supposed $10 million price tag, we’re already nearing $100 million and we still have 19 players to go. Rollins can still justify a 2/$22 mil payday in my opinion, so I’ll give him $11 mil. We have $109 million.

    This team is going to get real expensive, real fast. The Nationals have been smart to spend big money on the draft class (honestly, 4/$15.1 for Strasburg? You’d spend 4x that in the FA market to get equitable expected production). There’s no doubt that the players the Phillies have are fine players, but this business model is a deck of cards. By 2014, ESPN will be running whole Sportscenter segments trying to ascribe any sort of reasoning on why the Phillies are bad outside of “they’re old”.

  4. you guys cant be serious right? did you read the same article as me because the writer obviusly knows absolutely nothing num 1, 2 hes completely wrong in his statements that make no sense he obviously doesnt watch baseball because hes delusional did this article say …”The draft has become irrelevant to the Phillies.” , 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.” , . no comment on the nationals rising and phillies falling you seriously cant mean that jayson werth neone making 134$ and the phillies payroll is a topic, you cant find find a team that take him did he bat over 220 this year? and the draft part i guess they didnt bring up thru their OWN farm and draft cole hamels whos a stud top 5 10 pitcher, chase utley who ne team would die to have and one of the best if not best 2b in baseball today argurablly even tho his power is way down the guy plays like old time baseball, vance worley, dominic brown (unproven but young and will/ should be a superstar), michael bourn even tho hes not even close but still the guy wins gold gloves and leads league in sb every year his avg at BEST but still pretty good, gavin floyd, ryan howard, rollins, andrew bailey from the As, kyle drabek, bastardo, j happ, madson, burrell, diekman, savery, defratus , schwimmer i can name twenty more that they drafted old and young that were and are studs in the minors now for them and other teams so to say that is dumb, and chuck acually drafted and picked and scouted all the players he was very instrumental in the drafting so that heading isnt even true def wrong the whole article and the comments do your homework , if they cant draft and are old and spend so much blah blah then y are they that good every year there doin something right , please cmon the nationals? lets be serious ……and im in not talkin about any of you guys or anything just the article and these ridiculous claims…

  5. The Phillies will hit a wall. No question, but they have advantages the other teams don’t have. Its call Organization and $$$. They have 15 scouts. As a person earlier said, they do draft very well, and like the Yankees, they over sell. J. Happ – what did he do for Houston. Even if you look at the numbers, Worley was not as good as he appears. He relys on the defense, which is the best in baseball. As for $$$, they have to be commited to be spending. With Howard, Haliday, and Lee locked on ling-term contracts, they have to invest to winning to continue to sell seats, or they go broke. Its a vicious cycle. They are the Yankees of the NL.

    1. I can’t really argue, but the lack of spending in the last two drafts is going to come back to bite them; but they’re smart enough to know that. This is their window for championships and they’re going to come apart in 3-5 years. If they win another World Series or two, it’ll be worth it.

  6. Pat Gillick-built teams have a history of self-destructing. It happened with the 1994 Blue Jays, it happened with the 1998 Orioles, it happened with the 2004 Mariners, and none of those teams have reached the playoffs since. Looks like the Phillies might continue that trend…

    (Yes, I know Gillick retired as their GM, but the core of the 2008 team is still there for the most part.)

    1. Ruben Amaro has put a large chunk of this current club together; other aspects were there when Gillick arrived—none of what’s on the horizon is going to be his fault. Amaro’s in charge, he’s taken this strategy. I understand what he’s doing, but don’t think they’re going to be this good past 2013. They’re not.

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