Crash Bag, Vol. 109: The Utley/Halladay Buddy Film

@Dweebowitz: “How *do* they get out of the mess their stripped farm system and grotesquely overpaid geriatric lineup have become?”

I can’t emphasize this enough: there is no easy fix. There is no quick fix. There is no way the Phillies can overhaul the roster and contend next year, and barring some unforeseen run of luck, probably not the year after that.

The answer is time. You can’t build a contender overnight anymore by buying established players, and the Phillies’ greatest resource, money, makes buying established players the course the Phillies are most able to take. But that’s not how things work anymore. Look at any team that’s currently in good playoff position–either they’ve developed their own talent, or used homegrown talent to acquire established talent, or they’ve been particularly good at picking up pieces off the scrap heap, like the A’s.

The good news is that the Phillies aren’t trying to buy their way back into the playoff race anymore. Signings like Byrd and A.J. Burnett might look like that, but they’re not. They’re damage control. Meanwhile, the farm system isn’t stripped anymore–two years ago, the Phillies were sneaking one guy into the back end of top 100 prospect lists, but after two pretty good drafts, they’ve got three no-doubt top 100 prospects in J.P. Crawford, Aaron Nola and Maikel Franco, and several other interesting prospects besides, and whereas two years ago, all the talent in the Phillies’ system was buried in low-A and rookie ball, those kids–Crawford and Franco among them–are slowly climbing the minor league rungs. Of course, the Phillies haven’t had much success converting minor league talent into major league production in the past five years or so, but that’s a different problem.

And let me say this–it’s mystifying to me how many people think the Phillies can turn the direction of the franchise around quickly. I just don’t understand it. And it’s not just Philly.com commenters either, the kind of people who think the team’s biggest problem is Jimmy Rollins doesn’t try hard enough or that the Marlins would trade The Mighty Giancarlo Stanton to the Phillies for “prospects.” Not specific prospects, but “prospects.” Or “prospects and draft picks.” I’m talking about dedicated, informed fans, many of whom remember the 1990s and are aware that most teams don’t make the playoffs most years, and still think the Phillies are some small number of player transactions away from returning to the level of dominance they achieved from 2007-2011. I don’t know how you can take anything approaching a critical view of this franchise, its management and its assets and think that there’s an exit strategy other than letting the fire run its course and letting the forest regrow on its own.

To be honest, I’m staggered more people didn’t see this coming in 2010, but it’s easy to want to let the future take care of itself when things are good. The problem is that when you adopt that approach, you don’t get to be shocked and outraged when the good times don’t last forever. The level of naivete and impatience I’ve encountered makes me wonder how some of you people function as adults. The team is bad. They’re going to be bad for a while, barring an act of God or the next Josh Donaldson walking off the bus in Reading tomorrow. There’s nothing you or I or even Ruben Amaro can do to change that, so sit back and enjoy the crushing hopelessness.

@MichaelJBlock: “In light of Roy Halladay‘s epic Utley love fest, what’s your all time favorite teammate gush moment? “

There’s nothing like a good bromance in baseball. Occasionally you watch two guys on the field and it’s like watching a married couple, either because they’re so desperately in love with each other (Halladay and Carlos Ruiz) or because they flirt outrageously (Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus). Then there’s the Jedi Master/Padawan relationship: Chipper Jones and Freddie Freeman, Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper.

Halladay’s monologue on the virtues of Chase Utley is certainly one of the most earnest examples, but it’s not my favorite. I’d still go with Doc and Chooch.

@bxe1234: “Aren’t you glad Our Savior Darin Ruf is back with the big club?”

Oh, for sure, man. Things can’t get any worse.

@baldimorechop: “Expanding on Grantland article, thoughts on Ruiz to Baltimore? Even worth it?”

I think it’d make sense, for the same reasons Ben laid out in the post: at age 35, Chooch probably isn’t going to be on the next good Phillies team, while the Orioles are in first place and in dire need of a catcher. Matt Wieters isn’t in that Posey/Molina/Lucroy tier of catcher, but he isn’t bad and the Orioles must miss him. Now, Ruiz isn’t the player he used to be, but he’s sure as shit better than Nick Hundley, and the Orioles, stuck in a dogfight for the division, need all the help they can get. And Ruiz would make a credible starting catcher for the Orioles next year if Wieters isn’t ready to start the season.

As to the question of whether it’s worth it, I don’t even know what that means. I don’t think anyone realistically expects a 35-year-old catcher on a multi-year contract to be enough for the Orioles to give up Hunter Harvey, but with a player like Ruiz, you’re hoping to get one or two interesting young players and hit the lottery. When the Mets traded Marlon Byrd to Pittsburgh last year, they got Dilson Herrera and Vic Black, both of whom turned out to be legitimate prospects. If the Phillies traded Ruiz and ended up with that, you’d have to call that a huge win. Then again, they could end up with two guys who never make it out of A-ball, and nobody’s going to be able to tell the difference until 18 months after the trade.

@tholzerman: “Team Pie, Team Cake, or Team Diabetes?”

Gun to my head, I’d have to go with Team Pie. Even ignoring meat-based pies, there’s such great variety in pie. The arresting piquancy of key lime pie, the smooth sweetness of Boston cream, the simple, rich spiciness of pumpkin pie…I don’t know that the best pie in the world is better than the best cake in the world, but the variety gives pie the edge.

@TheGreyKing: “If you had to move one current team to its former city completely in tact, which would you move?”

The Nationals, and not because I’m trying to get on Jonah Keri’s good side. I’d love to see a second team in Canada, to say nothing of making MLB an officially multilingual league again. Either them or the A’s, because they’d make a pretty good contrast with the Phillies.

@Rarmstrong7777: “As Ryan Howard comes up in the bottom of the 11th with runners on…is there anyone on the team you want less in this spot?”

Cameron Rupp.

No, seriously, there does seem to be some sort of fatalistic unclutchness surrounding Howard nowadays, though if there’s a righty on the mound, there probably are worse alternatives. (Though he’s actually hit slightly better against lefties than righties this year, which is amusing, if not particularly significant.) The only thing left is for Howard’s SLG to dip below Ben Revere‘s, and we’re only 20-odd points away from that happening.

I just feel bad for the guy anymore.

@RyanGinnBSB: “Steve Spurrier, Phillies manager. Best and worst things to come from that?”

“Welp, I guess there’s not much you can do when your 3-4-5 hitters go a combined 1-for-15.”

“How’s Dom Brown doing? Welp, he’s been pretty awful recently, but we’re going to keep playing him because we ain’t got anyone better coming up.”

“Welp, the good news is that since we’re missing the playoffs, I’ll be able to play 18 holes at Merion before it gets too cold.”

“No, that wasn’t me doing doughnuts in the Phanatic’s golf cart. I don’t know where y’all get this stuff.”

“Welp, since you’re asking me, I guess I’d describe Matt Williams as more of an ACC-caliber manager.”

Lightning round time!

@SFGGothamClub: “Who’ll be dealt to alleviate OF crowd?”

Marlon Byrd. He’s got the most value.

“If Byrd will Size/Revere share in CF continue?”

Byrd hasn’t played center all year. I imagine the center field situation will remain as it is.

“Will Dom’s leash shorten?”

If they deal a corner guy, I imagine Brown’s leash will get longer.

“Chance 2 OFs go?”

Non-trivial. Byrd is probably the most likely player to be traded, but someone else could be released, or a player like John Mayberry could be traded as well.

@Ut26: “Roy Halladay and Chase Utley star in a buddy film, what’s the title, basic plot, and number of Oscars won?”

Cue music.

(Chase Utley, wearing a police uniform, walks up to a tree in a public park, sees a drunken Shane Victorino sitting in the branches.)

Utley: Come on, Shane, you gotta get down. I’ve got people complaining about the noise, and besides, you’re gonna hurt yourself.

Victorino: Boo.

Utley: Boo? Fuck you.

Narrator: Chase was a small-town sheriff. 

Utley: I’m getting the feeling this town is a closed system. Like nothing ever comes or goes, it just is.

Narrator: Whose world was about to get turned upside-down.

(Airplane barrel-rolls over a cornfield, then corkscrews down for a landing in a field. Utley shows up in his police car and jumps out to confront the pilot. Roy Halladay leaps out of the plane.)

Halladay: Good morning! I’m Roy Halladay, I’m the new airmail pilot.

Utley: This isn’t what I had in mind.

Halladay: I’ve seen some weird places in my time, but I’ve never actually been to a town that hasn’t changed since the 1800s.

Utley: Listen, we’re not some big city like Anchorage or anything, but we do okay for ourselves.

Halladay: When it snows here, do you guys eat each other?

Utley: What?

Halladay: You know, like in the Donner Party?

Utley: I know what the Donner Party is.

Halladay: Because I might look into a different route this winter.

Utley: Shut up.

Narrator: But sometimes, things don’t turn out like you’d expect.

(Utley is standing in front of a farmhouse. Cole Hamels, dressed as a farmer, is leaning against the porch.)

Hamels: Just happened out of the blue. My goats have never run off before.

Utley: You think someone stole them?

Hamels: I do. But how do you search the wilderness here? It’s a big wilderness.

Utley: That’s the problem. Unless…

(Halladay and Utley slo-mo-walk out to Halladay’s mail plane. Cut to cockpit in mid-flight)

Halladay: How long are we going to stay up here?

Utley: As long as we have to to find those goats.

Halladay: I was hoping you’d say that.

Narrator: And friendship blooms in unexpected places.

(Halladay and Utley, having found the goats, are at the town’s bar for a party thrown in their honor.)

Utley: What gets you up in the morning to deliver the mail?

Halladay: It’s what I’ve got to do. You’ve got to do whatever needs to be done.

Utley: I admire that about you.

Halladay: You know what I admire about you? Your grit. Your toughness. Your leadership. You keep this town together.

Utley: Yeah, but you made this town better

(Fin.)

That was the trailer for Mail Bonding, an upcoming film about Roy Halladay and Chase Utley, directed by Richard Linklater, and it will win all the Oscars.

That’s all for the Crash Bag. No Crash Bag next week, as I’ll be at the SABR conference in Houston and will therefore have died of being sweaty.

Leave a Reply

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33 comments

  1. Jim

    July 23, 2014 12:21 PM

    Mike or Bill,

    The Atlanta Braves totally dominated the National League for TEN years (95-05). How did they do it? Was it organization (farm system; coaching). Was it free agency? Magic? I’m just curious how a franchise can stay dominant for a DECADE?

    Jim

    • Beez Nutz

      July 23, 2014 12:30 PM

      Mets
      Phillies
      Marlins
      Expos / Nats

    • eddie

      July 23, 2014 02:00 PM

      How did they do it? Was it organization (farm system; coaching). Was it free agency? Magic?

      Yes.

      No, seriously; that kind of run (one of the best in history) requires pretty much everything to be coming together. They had the best farm system in baseball, and they had big money (from being on cable) to sign/keep players, and they had a solid organization, with coaches, GM, owner all being 1) smart and 2) on the same page … and they also just plain got lucky on a couple of decisions.

    • Michael Baumann

      July 23, 2014 02:07 PM

      Yes, all of those things. That’s a great question, worthy of its own post, which I’ll try to whip up for you in the next few days.

    • Chris S.

      July 23, 2014 02:11 PM

      And by some dumb luck they only won 1 world series in that time, despite having the talent to win a few more.

      • Bill Baer

        July 23, 2014 02:56 PM

        I’m glad you said “dumb luck”. A lot of people hold the Braves’ winning only one championship against them, but most don’t realize just how much luck factors into winning it all. The Phillies got very, very lucky in 2008, as an example that may hit home.

      • Chris S.

        July 23, 2014 03:19 PM

        The same could be said about the Indians from the mid to late 90’s. Those teams were stacked from top to bottom, granted they had to play the Yankees who were also stacked, but the Indians were unfortunate to walk away without a world series title during that time frame as well.

      • chad

        July 24, 2014 09:51 AM

        its also by dumb luck that the phillies did not win another one in 2011. they had cliff back in the fold, and won the most games in all of MLB for the 2nd yr in a row.

        the dumb luck part really comes into play because by sweeping the braves in the final series of the regular season, the phillies allowed the cardinals to sneak into the playoffs on the last day of the season, who then went on to beat them in the NLDS and ultimately win it all.

    • Hugh

      July 24, 2014 09:59 AM

      maddux, glavine, smoltz certainly helped. those guys were work-horses throughout their reign of dominance.

  2. Bob

    July 23, 2014 01:57 PM

    Is there anyway that the Phillies grossly over-pay for Cuban and Japanese MLB-ready talent to plug holes in OF, 1B and pitching to compete for a championship next year? It seems like big money teams with a lot of resources can still exploit these markets.

    • eddie

      July 23, 2014 02:25 PM

      They could, if those players existed, but they don’t. Japan has rarely produced the kind of power hitters you need to play 1B in the majors, and there are none in the pipeline. Next year’s top Japanese product will be Kenta Maeda, who projects to be a mid-rotation SP.

      Alfredo Despaigne from Cuba could have helped, but he signed to play in Japan. Rusney Castillo is the best unsigned and available Cuban prospect, but he’s likely to need polishing in the minors. In general, Cubans now are defecting younger, meaning you’re not going to get as many plug-and-play type guys.

      So, no.

      • Bob

        July 23, 2014 02:49 PM

        Then sign a Cuban slugger like Abreu to play 1B. A mid-rotation SP is better than what we have after Hamels-Lee. I wouldn’t mind a rotation of Maeda, Darvish, Iwakuma, and Tanaka with Soler and Cespedes in the OF and Abreu at 1B with Arrebuena in the IF.

    • SOB

      July 23, 2014 03:01 PM

      I think they should go after all of the Cubans. I am more comfortable with the team paying a guy like MAG a few million to shake the rust off in the minors than I am with them handing out the contracts they gave to Howard or Pap. Jose Abreu is one of the best examples of why the type of contract Howard got is mind numbing. It kills your ability to even attempt to upgrade. If Tomas or Castillo get over paid for their production, you’re looking at maybe a 4 year deal for Castillo, and at most, a 6 year deal for Tomas. Say the Phillies overpay something to the tune of 4/$48 for Castillo. At $12 million per year, you haven’t prohibited your team from upgrading the position. Yes, $12 million per is a lot to pay a 4th outfielder if that becomes his ceiling, but it isn’t too much to feel like you have to force him out there everyday to work through his struggles. You can platoon $12 million, you can’t platoon $25 million without admitting abject failure. The type of failure that management in any industry rarely admits to. In most businesses, that means layoffs, in baseball, it just means crappy seasons for the better part of the decade. I think the international market is easily the best way to put a watchable team on the field while still rebuilding the system. Trot the Cubans out there for a year or two while you still have Lee and Hamels, and give it a go in a weak division, and who knows, if a guy like Castillo plays well, but the team still ends up as a seller at the 2015 deadline, you finally have a guy with a reasonable contract to trade for your rebuild. If he came in and put up similar numbers to Byrd, at 10 years younger, you could reasonably expect a front line arm in return.

  3. Bob

    July 23, 2014 02:26 PM

    “The level of naivete and impatience I’ve encountered makes me wonder how some of you people function as adults.”

    You’re really smart Mike, and I enjoy your writing very much, but how can you write something like that? Unless I’m missing some sarcasm, that’s one of the most obnoxious things I’ve ever read. This is supposed to be fun. We’re fans, not writers or players or GMs, and it doesn’t hurt a damn thing to be at least a little optimistic. Most people don’t spend all day thinking about baseball, and when they do think/talk about it or watch it its supposed to be a pleasant past time, not a soul crushing existential journey. I know you’re an analyst and its you’re job to be realistic and smart about this stuff, but there’s no reason to take shots at people who just want to enjoy the game, team, and players they love.

    • Bob

      July 23, 2014 02:42 PM

      As a point of clarification, there are multiple people on here who go by “Bob” and this Bob didn’t write ^^^.

      • Greg

        July 24, 2014 01:43 PM

        We know. You wrote that obvious nonsense about signing good cuban players. No need to clarify you weren’t capable of writing this comment.

      • tom b

        July 23, 2014 03:28 PM

        not sure he was exaggerating at all. maybe one of those things you’re not allowed to say anymore because it could offend someone. being you have a post above asking if we can buy up all the cuban and japanese players to compete next year doesn’t hurt his point any.

    • eddie

      July 23, 2014 08:06 PM

      If you want to just enjoy the game, then just enjoy the game. Don’t go to websites that look at things analytically and realistically and don’t try to understand the business and player development and all that kind of stuff, and certainly don’t post to threads saying silly things “sign a Cuban slugger like Abreu to play 1B” as if those guys were just sitting around waiting to be signed.

      Most people do in fact just want to enjoy the game; they’re “casual” fans, which I’m not sure is a great term. My grandma had no idea what a WAR or OBP or any of that was, she didn’t know who the hot prospects were until they made the majors, and she had no interest in arguing about who was better than whom (except for the occasional “Well, he’s no Brooks Robinson.” I think Brooksie might have been her secret crush). She just watched 120 games a year because she liked baseball, and it was good entertainment and she certainly didn’t stress over her team winning or losing. She raised three kids through the depression, by herself after her husband died young, and her stress reliever was listening to horrible Washington Senators teams lose on the radio. She had perspective on the thing. Frankly, I think it’s a better way to enjoy the game than what most of us do.

      I digress. Point is, if you just want to enjoy the game, and have it be a pleasant pastime, you can do it … but spending time on an analytical, hard-core fan sites probably won’t help.

      • Bob

        July 23, 2014 11:50 PM

        Abreu was signed last year. espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/story/_/id/9899364/jose-abreu-deal-chicago-white-sox-was-calculated-risk-general-manager-rick-hahn-says

        I don’t understand what you mean that my comment was “silly”. He was actually just sitting there last year waiting to be signed. The White Sox offered the most, so he signed with them. The Phillies could’ve signed him if they were so inclined. Where do you think he came from? Your comment doesn’t make any sense.

      • eddie

        July 24, 2014 07:21 AM

        And nobody, including the White Sox, knew he was going to blow up like this, or he would have gotten twice as much money. The White Sox took a chance and got lucky, the Phillies took a chance on Gonzalez and so far haven’t. It’s not all a crapshoot, but there’s a lot of chance involved. You can’t just “grossly overpay” all of them and still have a budget.

        The reason your desire that the Phillies just go out and get “Cuban and Japanese MLB-ready talent to plug holes in OF, 1B and pitching to compete for a championship next year” is silly is because it imagines that the massive talent infusion the team needs is just sitting out there, easily acquired.

        Those countries, combined, produce an all-star caliber player every two or three years. The Phillies need to add about five all-stars to become contenders again. It’s simply not remotely realistic.

      • eddie

        July 24, 2014 07:50 AM

        Just checked — including all the alternates, seven Japan+Cuba All Stars this year, acquired over the last six years. So more like one a year, not one every three years. Still not enough.

      • Bob

        July 24, 2014 08:42 AM

        You can’t just change your argument when I prove you wrong. You said he wasn’t just sitting out there and available, and he clearly was.

        And please stop that no one realized that he would be good. There were eight other teams that bid on him and his contract was a record amount. And those were the teams that bid on him. You don’t think there were small market teams that would’ve bid too if they had the resources like the Phillies do? These teams, who are bidding record amounts, obviously recognized his talent. You might call it just “luck” but there is scouting, research and analysis. I’m sure the A’s just got lucky this year or the Giants are so luck to have reached the WS so many times recently and the Cardinals are very lucky too. You know, you’re totally right, hopefully the Phillies will have one of these “lucky” seasons you reference and will win the WS next year.

        Oh, and you proved my point for me. If the Phillies would’ve used their massive resources to secure the best available Cuban or Japanese players, they would’ve had six additional all-stars on their team this year. You’re the one who said they’d need five all stars to contend and voila. There they are. They wouldn’t have had to give up any draft pick compensation for them either afaik – just money. And those are just the All Star caliber players and guys in the MLB right now. You have Soler, Arrebuena, Guerrero, etc. who could help this team now and have a chance to be All Stars.

      • Chris S.

        July 24, 2014 09:12 AM

        Bob you say that the Phillies have money to spend, but does any team have 35 million to spend on two players that play the same position? The Phillies could have made an offer if they didn’t owe Ryan Howard $25 million this year and nex year and a $10 million dollar buyout for the year after (2017).

      • Bob

        July 24, 2014 10:42 AM

        The Dodgers have Kemp sitting on the bench or platooning making 21 mm a year. The Dodgers have signed Puig, Guerrero, Arruebarruena, and Ryu. The Yanks just cut Soriano who was making 18mm. This is what big market teams are supposed to do. Take advantage of their money situation.

        Even if they didn’t make Abreu an offer, there was still Tanaka, Darvish, Uehara, Puig, Cespedes, Arrebuena, Kuroda, Iwakuma, Ryu, Soler . . . I could go on. Heck, even Aoki had two ok years. Even if the Phillies would’ve signed three of these guys, their team would be improved. Imagine Puig in RF, Soler on the farm waiting for a call up and Iwakuma as our number three.

        And why do you care how much money the Phillies have tied up per position? 10 mm for a 1B is not outlandish on the FA market. There are reports on CSN that the Phillies will cut Ryan Howard at the end of the year. If they’re going to get a FA on the market to replace him, I can’t imagine that they’d get someone cheaper than 5 mm and probably in 8 mm range. So, they’d be tied up anyway with a player that will probably not be as good as Abreu. Unless you’re high on Ruf or a Franco move to 1B. But my overall point is that with a barren farm system and aging veterans a route to go to improve quickly is to exploit the foreign markets for talent where there are players that are major league ready whereas if we go solely by the draft to improve, we’re going to see bad Phillies baseball for a long time particularly with the trend of less and less players making it to FA as their teams are locking them up earlier and for longer.

      • eddie

        July 24, 2014 05:55 PM

        Bob, you dishonest sack of crap.

        The article is about what the Phillies can do NOW. My response was about what the Phillies can do NOW. Your response was “Then sign a Cuban slugger like Abreu to play 1B.” — You proposed signing a guy “like” Abreu, because you apparently imagine that those guys are just out there waiting to be signed. You did NOT say “Go back into a time machine and sign Abreu now that we all know he’s great,” because that would be an even dumber thing to say, even though that’s what you now claim you meant all along.

        And you say I’m the one changing my argument?

        Yes, eight teams bid on Abreu, and the highest bid was ~$11M per year. That’s the almost as much as Cubs paid for Fukudome, who scouts also loved. You remember Jose Contreras? Scouts loved him, too, the Yankees paid $48 million guaranteed, and he sucked. Maya, Matsuzaka, Igawa, Nishihoka, Ishii … for every Abreu or Tanaka, there’s two or three big-money international signings that don’t pan out.

        And, no, it’s not ALL luck, but if you don’t think luck plays a role, you’re frankly ignorant. Everyone in scouting/drafting/player evaluation in every sport acknowledges they can only speak in probabilities, odds, and projection. This is real life, not a video game where these guys all have a OVR rating attached to them where you know exactly how good they are. The same Red Sox that won two recent championships spent $100M on Matsuzaka. The same Yankees that hit on Tanaka whiffed on Contreras. The same Dodgers hit on Nomo and whiffed on Ishii. The only way to get ALL the international stars is to sign ALL the international prospects. And if you spent your money on those guys … no Utley, no Lee, no Hamels, because being “big market” does not equate to having infinite rivers of cash.

        So yeah, the level of naivete and impatience you’re displaying makes me wonder how you function as an adult.

      • Bob

        July 25, 2014 12:32 AM

        Personal attacks on me? Nice. Have I touched a nerve or are you really just an insecure bully? I’m guessing insecure because your first passive-aggressive reference to my proposal as being “silly” wasn’t even in response to my original post.
        I don’t know why I’m trying again but here goes . . . I suggested that the Phillies should explore the international market for a quick fix, particularly Cuban and Japanese players who are MLB ready talents. You said that there are no Japanese sluggers and then named an available Cuban player. I said that we should get a Cuban slugger like an Abreu type, as opposed to a Japanese one who you claim don’t exist. Frankly, I could care less if they’re a slugger, high OBP guy, defensive wiz so long as the player can contribute immediately. You then said that it’s impossible because these types of players don’t exist. This doesn’t make any sense because (a) you had just named one in Castillo and (b) Abreu just signed last year, so obviously they exist. Abreu might not have a twin brother who is raking in Cuba, but there are other productive Cuban and Japanese players out there. They exist.
        Your other point is that the Phillies shouldn’t spend big money in the international arena because they could miss and be in a financial bind. Why are you so concerned about how much money the Phillies spend? They print money. The extra money they save isn’t going into your pocket. Big market teams are supposed to use dead money to their advantage. They can afford to take on onerous contracts for two or three good years and eat the dead money at the back end. That’s a legitimate strategy that big market teams need to employ where there is no salary cap.
        And just because there’s some risk in the Asian and Cuban markets doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile to lock up a Puig, Abreu, Soler, Iwakuma, Uehara, etc. Let’s look at some of the bad deals you say. In a three year span, Fukudome had a Fangraphs WAR of 1.3, 2.5, 1.2. Revere’s WAR since joining the Phillies – .9 and a .8. Is Revere more valuable because he got paid less? No, Fukudome was more valuable in terms of winning games. Dom Brown’s WAR last year was 1.7 and this year -1.5. Delmon Young has never had a WAR of 1.6. How about Contreras? Kyle Kendrick’s career WAR – 4.5. Roberto Hernandez’ career WAR – 8.2. Contreras career WAR – 18.3. Let’s look at Matsuzaka. His first year he had a 3.8 WAR good for 26th best in baseball – a number one starter. His second year he was 3.4 which is top 30ish range. The point is putting the best players on the field and the big market teams have an advantage in overpaying for foreign talent that is MLB ready and projectable. Yet the Phillies have not exploited this area whereas the Dodgers not only spend but are stockpiling Cuban and Asian players as well as developing a farm system and getting high priced veterans.
        My point as to luck is not that it doesn’t exist but that luck can often be an excuse. The reason the A’s, Giants, Cardinals, etc. are consistently good isn’t because they’re necessarily lucky. They have a process in place in terms of analytical, forward thinking with an emphasis on data collection and analysis that the Phillies don’t have. To think that the Phillies have just been unlucky for the past few years is just not true in contrast to other teams and that they can suddenly become lucky again is a pipedream. The Phillies pride themselves on being a scouting organization yet they consistently whiff on Cuban and Asian players. These are projectable players with big league skills as has been proven time and time again. Baseball has changed. Teams are relying on analytics to the benefit of the game and are making more intelligent moves like locking young talent up and not letting them get to the market, so options are limited in terms of rebuild. You say be patient but, realistically, the Phillies have no more than four projectable future major leaguers and last time I checked you need nine to play. You like to criticize the signing of foreign players yet your solution – hanging on to Cliff, Chase, etc. isn’t working out so well.

      • WayneKerrins

        July 25, 2014 01:35 PM

        I don’t pretend to be remotely as informed as many posters on this blog re sabremetrics but I have always though the least cogent application of the theory to be in the analysis of over/underpaying. Many blog inches were expended on some relatively minor deals (in and out) deciding that the aphids had underpaid/over paid for say Revere or Frandsen. I always thought the far bigger picture in terms of the math was the cost of an emptying stadium for 80 odd games. Very little is ever said on this but when you factor this in I wonder whether a more active punt in the overseas market to try an land a gem isn’t justified given that only a few teams of which are one, have the means to do this which in itself gives us a material edge?

    • Scott G

      July 31, 2014 05:41 PM

      This is yet another example of people taking offense to something Baumann wrote and reaching out to him in some way to look for an explanation or some discussion, and he can’t be bothered to respond.

      • Bill Baer

        July 31, 2014 05:51 PM

        Baumann is traveling (which is why there wasn’t a Crash Bag this week). He also has writing responsibilities elsewhere from venues that help him afford a roof over his head.

  4. Carmine

    July 24, 2014 08:59 AM

    You forgot a major Spurrierism: Welp, I guess I’ll just have to coach ‘em up.

    I live in DC and had to listen to the guy — a classic example of a solid college coach who had no business being in the NFL. One of the dumbest moves ever in a long line of dumb moves by the franchise-that-must-not-be-named. Happy to be an expatriate Phillies and Eagles fan.

  5. Philly697

    July 25, 2014 12:30 PM

    “I’m talking about dedicated, informed fans, many of whom remember the 1990s and are aware that most teams don’t make the playoffs most years, and still think the Phillies are some small number of player transactions away from returning to the level of dominance they achieved from 2007-2011.”

    This. This is the reason why I hardly comment on this site anymore. Hard enough having to see my favorite team being flushed down the toilet, but more difficult when much of the people you choose to interact with on a particular website can’t seem to see or accept reality when it’s staring at them in the face. Better to save myself the aggravation.

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