Remembering July 2006

July 2006 was really the last time the Phillies were legitimately considered a “bad” team, and even then, they were only six games under .500. Your current squad just happens to be six games under .500 after last night’s win. Like the ’06 team, the ’13 Phillies have a 34-year-old injury-prone catcher on the verge of free agency and a veteran third baseman whose best years are long behind him. Most importantly and most similarly, the ’06 team had a tough decision to make leading up to the trade deadline with a franchise superstar. Right fielder Bobby Abreu was well on his way to free agency and the Phillies were preparing to transition. They traded Abreu, along with Cory Lidle, to the Yankees for a handful of prospects and salary relief.

After the trade, then-GM Pat Gillick warned fans to temper their expectations for the foreseeable future, as the franchise healed the wounds suffered from poor free agent signings and trades dating back to the late 1990’s.

“We have young people to plug in, and it’s going to take time for them to get their feet on the ground,” Gillick said. “It would probably be a stretch to think we’re going to be there [as a contender] in 2007. It’s going to be a little slower. I don’t want to mislead anyone.”

The Phillies rebounded sooner than we thought. From August 1 through the end of the 2006 regular season, the Phillies went 36-22 (.621). They finished 12 games back of the Mets in the NL East, but hung tough with the Dodgers for the Wild Card up to the final week. It was the start to what became arguably the greatest era of Phillies baseball, the same era that is now unfortunately drawing to an unceremonious close.

The 1996 team is an example of how not to operate at this stage. The Phillies had reached the World Series in 1993 and wanted to continue competing in the NL East. They finished under .500 in both 1994 and ’95, but both seasons were shortened by the strike. They went into ’96 with a more youthful roster, but it was not by choice but rather by need. Their roster contained plenty of holdovers from the World Series team. Lenny Dykstra started the season as the everyday center fielder, but an injury forced him out on May 18. That was his last appearance in the Majors. Pete Incaviglia lost playing time after the Phillies called up Scott Rolen on August 1 as Todd Zeile moved from third to first and Gregg Jefferies moved from first to left. Incaviglia and Zeile were eventually traded in late August. Jim Eisenreich, who had platooned in both left and right field, was lost in early September to a broken foot. Darren Daulton appeared in just five games and was traded the following season. Sound familiar?

Because the ’96 Phillies hung on to the dream of getting to another World Series, they passed over the opportunity to detach and build up for the future. From 1997-2001, the Phillies won between 65 and 77 games, never coming close to contention. Due to their payroll advantage relative to many other teams, the present-day Phillies aren’t in danger of becoming a 65-win team anytime soon. The Phillies have until 4 PM ET this afternoon to recoup value on their veterans through trades. Otherwise, they will have to utilize waivers in August, else they risk watching their players walk into free agency while recouping little to no value in the process.

This happened on MLB Network yesterday:

Now that the Tigers have acquired Jose Veras and the Red Sox traded for Jake Peavy, the Phillies are running out of options and their leverage continues to weaken with every passing hour. The Phillies risk damaging their future by stubbornly clinging onto the past.

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48 comments

  1. Cutter

    July 31, 2013 08:10 AM

    I don’t know if 1996 was due to the Phillies clinging onto hopes of making the World Series as much as a bad combination of poor finances and an underperforming farm system.

    And why would anyone place any importance on what Amaro says? GMs are notoriously dishonest at the trade deadline, as well they should be. Judge his actions, not his words.

  2. BeezNutz

    July 31, 2013 08:22 AM

    The key name in this whole story being… Pat Gillick

    I still to this day will never understand why they brought this guy in, knowing the clowns they had in place sucked (Ed Wade, Dallas Green and RAJ) … only to hand the friggin reigns right back over.

    This is why I’ve hated RAJ from day 1 and never gave him a shot. The moves he’s made over the years have only confirmed that.

  3. JDM

    July 31, 2013 08:59 AM

    There’s been a lot of talk over the last 24 hours (it’s 9:55 AM on July 31st as I write this) about the possibility of Amaro making zero moves. There’s still a lot of time left till the deadline. Zero moves seems unlikely to me at this point. But his options sure seem to have all but vanished. The moment I read the Tigers traded for bullpen help the other day, and then the moment I read the Red Sox had a deal in place for Peavy, everything I’ve known and felt about Amaro was only reinforced. This guy has destroyed the Phillies roster, and he is NOT the guy who should be handling the rebuild. He had so much leverage going into this deadline, and so much evidence (8-game losing streak) that he needed to use it. Now he might not make any moves at all? Horrible. Sometimes I think his arrogance is just smart posturing; most times I see his arrogance is just that: arrogance.

  4. Ted Kennedy

    July 31, 2013 09:04 AM

    Because we should believe everything we hear out of a GM’s mouth on July 30th. Yup.

  5. nik

    July 31, 2013 09:09 AM

    BeezNutz you know Gillick is still on the payroll as an advisor, right? And RAJ vets every move him makes with him.

  6. SteveH

    July 31, 2013 09:17 AM

    Bill,
    Do you really think Amaro believes that he can trade no one, and legitimately contend next year or do you think this is lip service from him because he realizes now that he waited too long to make a deal and is now stuck with what he has so he needs to put a positive spin on it?

  7. Ted Kennedy

    July 31, 2013 09:18 AM

    nik remember that Gillick is the smartest GM ever. You can’t question him.

  8. BeezNutz

    July 31, 2013 09:25 AM

    @nik

    I really dont buy that and never have…. but regardless how terrible is that model.

    You’re paying Gillick who is not invested in any way at all and has little access to the circuit to advise on all this… cmon man

    You’re either paying the GM to GM or you shouldnt be paying him at all

  9. BeezNutz

    July 31, 2013 09:26 AM

    @Ted

    Nobody is saying he was the best GM, ever. But his track record speaks for itself I believe.

  10. nik

    July 31, 2013 09:29 AM

    Gillick inherited pretty much the entire core from Wade. Gillick did a great job trimming around the edges and putting the finishing touches on the team to get them over the edge but never forget he also did things like giving Adam Eaton 3 years and the Freddy Garcia trade.

  11. nik

    July 31, 2013 09:31 AM

    PS If Amaro really believes this team has a chance to compete this year he’s out of his goddamn mind. If it is true however, he’s just burning his own leash. The backlash for a crappy trade deadline will be loud.

  12. Ginner207

    July 31, 2013 09:50 AM

    I bet RAJ does nothing and at the end of the year we say good bye to the front office, Manuel and possibly Cliff and Papelbon through trades and Young and Ruiz through FA. Probably forgetting people but it’ll be an offseason with a ton of changes and I’m sure we all see it coming.

  13. Cutter

    July 31, 2013 09:52 AM

    The deification of Gillick is confusing. As nik mentioned, he did a great job of turning a good core into a champion. But the man made a lot of missteps as well.

    And the farm system from his era hasn’t turned out very many major league successes thus far.

  14. adam_s

    July 31, 2013 10:15 AM

    agree with beeznutz..seems like the phillies were always grooming him to be the successor and they don’t want to admit he’s not working out because they’re stubborn…hopefully something positive will happen today.

  15. SteveH

    July 31, 2013 10:38 AM

    Nothing will happen today!!! At 1 we will hear whispers that the Dodgers are interested in Lee but nothing will come of it. The only thing that might happen is Michael Young. We can trade him for Lindblom and go full circle on that move.

  16. t

    July 31, 2013 10:40 AM

    Of course GMs are going to do some posturing this time of year but the things Amaro has been saying, like the above, are so outrageous they insult the intelligence of everyone who might be listening. If he were talking more about coming back strong next year that would be closer to the realm of possibility at least.

  17. Ted Kennedy

    July 31, 2013 10:42 AM

    Gillick pretty much didn’t do anything on the farm. He had quite the track record of destroying farm systems in Toronto, Baltimore and Seattle. Fortunately, the Phillies system didn’t turn to complete poo after he left in 08. But the farm hasn’t produced anything from 06-08 other than Dom Brown and Joe Savery. Yea, Gillick is the greatest evah.

  18. Ted Kennedy

    July 31, 2013 10:42 AM

    Oh and he did wonderful in that Abreu trade. Name one player in that trade that made any sort of impact. You know who would’ve made an impact in that stretch run of 2006 – BOBBY FREAKING ABREU.

  19. Pencilfish

    July 31, 2013 10:58 AM

    I sense a tone of desperation. Pleading with RAJ to make a trade, ANY TRADE, just so we can unload pricey veterans gives away any leverage one has over the buyers. RAJ was right in insisting on a king’s ransom for Lee, and Boston backed off. It’s telling they got Peavy for just Iglesias and 3 lower-level prospects. Boston is not moving Will Middlebrooks, Brock Holt or Xander Bogaerts for Lee (or anyone else, I think).

  20. LTG

    July 31, 2013 11:15 AM

    The Red Sox would jump at Lee with Middlebrooks as the centerpiece. But they are reluctant to part with Bogaerts or JBJ. RAJ, on the other hand, is right to insist on at least one or both of them.

    I have no problem with hanging onto Lee since he is a) good and b) still under contract. If I were a GM, I’d like a doctor to advise me on the likelihood of Lee staying healthy. In a year we very likely could be having the same conversation about Lee, except then more teams will be willing to take him because he would come with one fewer year on his contract.

    We should probably wait until after the deadline to bemoan not moving the older FAs. But I suspect Ruiz will be resigned to a team-friendly deal. It sounds like Utley is close to a team-friendly deal. And M Young, as we all know, should be sent packing today. If he isn’t, that’s a mark against RAJ.

  21. adam_s

    July 31, 2013 11:22 AM

    i think i’d rather win a WS like we did with Gillick in ’08 then have an awesome farm system of potential prospects and still no WS title.

  22. Scott G

    July 31, 2013 11:25 AM

    I don’t think the Phillies should just GIVE Cliff Lee away, but you’re telling me no one would give 2 or 3 top prospects if the Phillies agreed to eat some of the contract?

    The Phillies were smart to want Bogaerts. The Sox were smart to not want to give Bogaerts. You mean to tell me they wouldn’t part with other top tier prospects to get Cliff Lee?

    Was RAJ not willing to eat money? Or did he scoff at the probably decent offer that just didn’t include Bogaerts?

  23. LTG

    July 31, 2013 11:30 AM

    Lee doesn’t have to be traded now. He could be traded later, e.g., this offseason. He only has to be traded now if you expect that in the next 3 months his will value will implode.

  24. Scott G

    July 31, 2013 11:40 AM

    I know he doesn’t have to be traded now, but The Red Sox (and other teams are currently contenders). I can’t really believe that teams have more incentive to trade for Cliff Lee in the offseason when there’s 6 months of games to play and injuries to endure that could ultimately rule them out of contention and make Cliff Lee irrelevant if not injured himself.

  25. Fat Ted

    July 31, 2013 11:54 AM

    There’s plenty of evidence and reasons to say the Phillies should trade some veterans, but there hasn’t been a lot of talk of what offers have been available or turned down.

    They should re-sign Utley. If they can trade M. Young, D. Young, Nix, or Ruiz they probably should. What packages could they get for any of those guys. Rollins isn’t going to waive his no-trade clause. Papelbon is owed too much money, though they could offer to pay some of that to get good prospects. Who else would return good prospects?

  26. LTG

    July 31, 2013 12:13 PM

    I think most teams prefer a full year of awesome to 2-3 months of awesome. The amount of improvement Lee provides Boston for the rest of the year is about 1 win. It could be an important win since the AL East is close but not worth hastily selling the future.

  27. Larry

    July 31, 2013 12:39 PM

    Cliff Lee is not a free agent after this year. It wouldn’t be just 2-3 months. His value is higher when contenders are desperate. The only way Cliff Lee is more valuable this off season is if he is absolutely lights out the rest of 2013 or another team’s ace has a major injury.

  28. agam22

    July 31, 2013 12:51 PM

    I don’t see how trading Abreu and Lidle for nothing helped bring in the era of success. Unless you actually believe all that nonsense about Abreu having a losers mentallity that infected the team. I think that trade is a good example of why selling for the sake of selling is a terrible idea. None of the prospects they got back were worth anything and the biggest additions they used on the money saved by Abreu in the the next two offseasons were Geoff Jenkins, Pedro Feliz and the Lidge extension. Abreu was much more worthy of the money than any of those guys. Yeah things worked out for the team on the outfield and overall, but that’s only because they struck gold on a rule 5 pick no one wanted and an injury plauged minor league free agent.

  29. Scott G

    July 31, 2013 01:13 PM

    LTG,

    I think Larry addressed this for me, but they’d be getting 2 years + 2-3 months (where they’re guaranteed contenders) of Cliff Lee. Assuming the Phillies would eat part of his contract (which they should be willing to, but I’m surprised they’d be required to), Lee should currently fetch more in return because the Sox (and the other contenders) are currently contenders… AND they’d have him for the next 2 years as well.

  30. Pencilfish

    July 31, 2013 01:18 PM

    Scott G,

    The report I have seen is that RAJ wanted Bogaerts and the Red Sox to assume all of Lee’s salary. Not sure if anyone outside of Bogaerts can be qualified as an acceptable offer, especially if giving Lee away is not an option.

  31. LTG

    July 31, 2013 02:10 PM

    A) I know lee is not a rental for 2-3 months.

    B) The offseason allows teams to make many moves in combination that would make letting some like bogaerts go sensible rather than a rash decision on the heat of contention. Having seen how often big deadline moves fail to make a big difference teams are rightly less inclined to sell young MLB talent for an older big piece.

    C) lee just doesn’t increase the Red Sox likelihood to make the playoffs enough to justify sending bogaerts off. The Red Sox know this.

    D) maybe if another option were not available they would make the bogaerts trade but there is usually a second best option

  32. BeezNutz

    July 31, 2013 02:23 PM

    “C) lee just doesn’t increase the Red Sox likelihood to make the playoffs enough to justify sending bogaerts off. The Red Sox know this.”

    I also read that on fangraphs and I disagreed with them as well

  33. Fran

    July 31, 2013 02:32 PM

    FREE MIKE ARBUCKLE

  34. Larry

    July 31, 2013 02:52 PM

    ” The offseason allows teams to make many moves in combination that would make letting some like bogaerts go sensible rather than a rash decision on the heat of contention. Having seen how often big deadline moves fail to make a big difference teams are rightly less inclined to sell young MLB talent for an older big piece.”

    I think rash decisions would make a team spend more than taking two months to think about it.

    You’re a team who is desperate right now. The Rays are on your ass. They stopped you from going to the playoffs last year. You absolutely despise them and their fan base. The Orioles and Yankees are scary teams as well.

    If my water heater burst and it’s a weekend. The 1st 2 plumbers I called said I would have to wait til Tuesday. The next plumber said I’ll come right now with a new heater, but it would cost 25% more. At this point I’m desperate and take the deal.

    Now if I knew my water heater was going to fail within the next 2-3 months. I now have a few months to shop around. I’m sure I would get a better deal, because I’m not desperate.

    You can say the same thing about a flat tire and so many other serious things. Desperate men do desperate things. I think there is a saying similar to that.

  35. Scott G

    July 31, 2013 03:09 PM

    LTG,

    Based on Point C), I would be left to assume the Red Sox aren’t going to make the playoffs.
    I’m not even going to try and debate whether Lee helps them make the playoffs. The Sox are .5 game out of the division. They’ll almost definitely get at least a wild card spot. Cliff Lee will help them get to the playoffs and win WHEN they get there.

  36. Scott G

    July 31, 2013 03:12 PM

    Pencilfish and LTG,

    Why did it HAVE to be Bogaerts? Why not JBJr or 2 or 3 of their other top prospects? Again, I’m not suggesting they HAD to trade Lee. But if the Sox gave up Jose Iglesias for Peavy, and the Rangers gave up a decent amount for Garza, you don’t think Cliff Lee could fetch a legitimate offer (excluding bogaerts) if they agreed to eat cash?

  37. amarosucks

    July 31, 2013 03:29 PM

    Great job today Rube. You’re on quite a run, you dipshit

  38. amarosucks

    July 31, 2013 03:57 PM

    I find it hilarious that there were rumors of the phils acquiring jbj since they took larry greene jr with the pick right before him.

  39. LTG

    July 31, 2013 04:12 PM

    Larry,

    My point is the Red Sox don’t get desperate. Desperation makes for bad decisions. And I don’t even see why the Red Sox should be desperate. They are extremely likely to make the playoffs even if they lose the division.

    Scott G,

    It is precisely because the Red Sox are already so likely to make the playoffs that Lee makes little difference. And to your second point, history shows that the big splash move rarely makes a big difference in playoff series. Playoff series are crap shoots where it is hard to move the needle with one player, especially a pitcher. This is why the Pence trade was/is so reviled. And no one like Bogaerts or JBJ was involved. (I was letting Bogaerts just stand in for Bogaerts or JBJ.) To trade Lee now you have to get one of them at least precisely because Lee is an FA, unless you have good reason to suspect his value is about to plummet.

    Beez,

    I’d like to hear your reasons. I don’t care that *you* disagree but I do care about your *reasons* for disagreeing.

    General Audience,

    I left out that in the offseason they might get more teams bidding for Lee’s services than they have at the deadline, which will drive up his price. Maybe the Royals farm system will still have prospects to raid…

    And, finally, RAJ definitely failed this deadline. None of this stuff about Lee changes that.

  40. LTG

    July 31, 2013 04:13 PM

    “Lee is an FA” should be “Lee is *not* an FA”, obviously.

  41. Larry

    July 31, 2013 04:42 PM

    LTG,

    Making the playoffs as a wildcard is very different than it used to be. You get only 1 game with the other wildcard team. Winning the division is more important than a few years back. I hate the 1 game playoff. Cliff Lee not only increases your chances of winning the division, but it would make them a bigger threat to win the World Series. Maybe the favorite??

    In Beeznuts defense if Cliff Lee only gives them 1 more win in 2 months, then you might believe that no Cliff Lee this year up to July 31st means they would only have 2 more losses? If Cliff Lee had a season ending injury in game 1, we probably get the combination of Cloyd and Valdez to replace him. Does anybody think that would equate to only 2 less wins for the Phillies this year???? This is a flaw when you look at the WAR stat.

    Everybody on this site agrees that Lee is worth his contract. So 20-25 mil a year only buys you 3 wins and everyone is OK with that???

    “And, finally, RAJ definitely failed this deadline. None of this stuff about Lee changes that.”

    I couldn’t agree more! Chooch,DY,and MY are still here?? This makes no sense. There were multiple teams interested in all of these players.

  42. hedda lee

    July 31, 2013 04:50 PM

    What would constitute a ‘ceremonious’ close to the half-decade of Phillies success?

  43. hk

    July 31, 2013 07:17 PM

    The remaining financial commitment to Cliff Lee is either $70.8M for 2 2/3 seasons ($26.54M per season) or $85.83M for 3 2/3 seasons ($23.41M per season) if the option for his age 37 season was picked up. Why did RAJ even put him on the market if he was unwilling to pay part of his contract? Did he really expect a team to part with multiple top prospects in exchange for an overpriced ace?

  44. Cutter

    July 31, 2013 09:28 PM

    Lee is overpriced now? He probably gets that money if he was a free agent at season’s end.

    And are you sure Amaro didn’t offer to pay part of the contract?

  45. GWB

    July 31, 2013 10:55 PM

    The Abreu/Lidle deal was a salary dump, likely mandated by the ownership/Montgomery due to the failure of the organization to make the playoffs up to that point & and thus capitalize fully on the new stadium’s revenue benefits.

    There were many reports at the time that Burrell was the original target to trade, but he invoked his NTC to block the deal with Baltimore and thus Abreu was the next guy with a high price tag they could move for relief. Lidle was just a throw-in the Yanks wanted for pitching depth.

    Gillick was visibly distressed at the PC for that deal and stated several times expectations needed to be lowered and that moving Abreu would impact the team since they would be depending now on young inexperienced talent. Luckily for him and the Phils, that young talent was quite good and kicked in straight away.

    Gillick, the short term fixer the Phils needed to get them over the hump, then stepped aside after 2008 and the Phils turned to their chosen heir, Amaro, who was a Phils legacy son, a former Phillie himself and one who worked in the FO and would fit into the old boys club fine.

    Amaro has proceeded to go all in multiple years, fell short and failed to plan for the aftermath…now he is almost in full delusion mode along with apparently the rest of the management/ownership and laser focused on the short term of competing every year even though such strategy works to hinder such an outcome in many ways.

    Entering August of the 2nd consecutive lost seasons and now the lack of any action at the deadline is very dissapointing, but hardly surprising unfortunately…I guess we’ll have to hit rock bottom before any real changes are made.

  46. Phillie697

    August 01, 2013 10:59 AM

    @LTG,

    Let’s be real. Lee’s REAL value isn’t the rest of this damn regular season. Lee’s real value is being able to anchor a rotation in the playoffs. You really think Red Sox were thinking about just “making” the playoffs as they were thinking about Lee?

    Anyone who want to argue that “oh once the playoff begins it’s a crapshoot anyway, so it doesn’t matter who you have/get” is just trying to make themselves feel better about Phillies’ 2011.

  47. hk

    August 01, 2013 01:00 PM

    Cutter,

    Yes, Lee’s overpriced now. When his deal was signed, it was a good price, but the deal was significantly back-loaded. By the end of this season, Lee will have been paid $57.5M for his age 32 through 34 seasons. I doubt that he’d get $62.5M for his age 35 and age 36 seasons or that he’d get $77.5M for his age 35 through age 37 seasons….unless, of course, RAJ was bidding against himself for Lee’s services.

    And, no, I’m not sure Amaro didn’t offer to pay any of the contract. What I do know is, because the contract is so heavily back-loaded, it gets more expensive as time passes.

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