Tuesday, February 9, 2010

10 comments This Whole Success Thing Is Going To Some Philadelphia Writer's Heads

I had never heard of Sam Donnellon until I read this article that he wrote about his personal long term plan for the Philadelphia Phillies. I don't even know if he deserves a tag with his name, since I haven't ever referred to him before and I may not again, but he gets one anyway. All I know is that the two straight World Series appearances by the Phillies have really gone to his head at this point. He seems to look down on teams with other World Series appearances and think the Phillies don't need to follow the plan of other successful teams.

Shockingly, I have never disliked the Phillies all that much even though they are in the NL East and are rivals with the Braves. Sometimes their fans can be obnoxious and annoying, but that's every fan base, so I don't hold it against them. Today Sam Donnellon says he doesn't want the Phillies to be like the 90's Indians and Braves. The best part is in the comments the Phillies fans (presumably) are semi-defending the Braves and Indians. I found this interesting and a reflection of how off-the-mark this column was.

IN EXPLAINING why he traded Cliff Lee, Ruben Amaro Jr. often explains that he can't do business like the Yankees.

Pure rubbish! The Phillies should be able to bust their budget and spend as much money on baseball players as any other team in Major League Baseball. Who cares that the Yankees have a larger United States fan base (more jersey and merchandise sales), their very own network they make tons of money off and play in the largest market in the United States? The Phillies, despite having success at their current payroll, should try to keep up with them.

The other day, Charlie Manuel explained it through the model used by the Braves in winning 14 straight division titles.

"You have to do what we did this winter," he said. "You have to turn some guys over every year."

That model sucks says Sam Donnellon, what team wants to be in contention every single year for over a decade? BORING!!!!!

But are the comparisons valid? Not entirely.

Yes, the comparison to not being able to do business like the Yankees is very valid. Honestly, what team wouldn't want to have success (absent the World Series victories) the Braves had? A team that doesn't want that is borderline stupid. So the comparisons are valid. Obviously Amaro Jr. and Manuel aren't making a direct comparison, but they are just saying they want to do their business similar to the Braves of the 90's. They aren't saying, "we are going to base every decision in the organization on what the Braves of the 90's would do" though.

Yes, the Yankees run a big payroll, and, yes, their contract with CC Sabathia undoubtedly fueled fears that Lee would not settle for anything less than a 5-year deal.

These fears were also fueled by comments by Lee's own agent basically supporting this statement. This isn't proof for Donnellon though, I am sure Lee's agent was just kidding.

But they also refused to part with some prized prospects when there was an opportunity to trade for Johan Santana in November 2007.

If they could do it over again, the Yankees would easily do this trade again. Easily in my opinion.

The Yankees didn't want to trade Robinson Cano but I think even the Yankees realize if they had traded Cano, they could have signed Orlando Hudson (or a similar second baseman), signed Sabathia and not Burnett and still had a great pitching staff.

The Yankees could have also traded Philip Hughes, Melky Cabrera, and two minor league prospects (or Ian Kennedy) for Santana. I think the Yankees would do this trade today. So the Yankees refusal to part with prospects isn't an example of how smart they were, but how they could have gotten the two best LH pitchers in Major League Baseball and didn't do this because they overvalued their prospects.

Yes, I know the Yankees would have a rotation of Pettitte, Santana and Sabathia who are all LH, but the Yankees could have potentially then not re-signed Petittite and still signed Burnett. That's a good rotation and even if they trade Cano, they could have found a second baseman to take his place without a huge downgrade in my mind.

My point is that why Donnellon is using the Yankees non-trade of Santana as a reason to have kept Cliff Lee, it actually works out the opposite way if you think about how the Phillies built this current Phillies team. Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Ryan Madsen, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and JA Happ are all homegrown players and are all players (except Happ) who contributed to the Phillies back-to-back World Series appearances. The Yankees did overvalue their prospects during the Santana negotiations but the Phillies have had success identifying prospects and developing them, while the Yankees haven't. Therefore, I would believe the Phillies may better know how to value prospects to trade for and believe they like what they got in the Cliff Lee trade than a team like the Yankees could.

Yes, the Braves cut loose some stars along that 14-season run. But they also did exactly what the Phillies resisted doing this winter. They already had John Smoltz and Tom Glavine when they signed Greg Maddux before the 1993 season.

It was much different back in the early 90's because these three players were much more affordable at the time. Maddux signed a 5 year $25 million deal with the Braves in 1993, if that tells you anything. They had a fairly young team and could afford to take on payroll due to their increasing success and income from the success. The Phillies couldn't afford to take on more payroll this offseason.

The Braves were among the top spenders for much of their run, but a quick look at a list of all-time top career money earners in baseball underlines where much of that spending went. Maddux is seventh on the list. Smoltz is 13th, Glavine 14th.

Which is why the Braves went cheap with Jaret Wright, John Burkett, and other reclamation projects at times in the rotation and primarily relied on young guys to be in the bullpen. It's called a budget and the Braves had one. I don't see where this is going. Yes, the Braves kept their starting pitching, but if they had to do the same thing today, there is almost no way they could have kept those 3 guys together for as long as they did. The market and free agency has changed.

What else Donnellon fails to see is the Braves model didn't have a great infield in Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Jimmy Rollins that needed to be paid as well. While the Braves cut some costs in the lineup to pay for the pitching, the Phillies are cutting costs in pitching to pay for the lineup and for the pitching staff. It's a more balanced version (between the hitting and pitching) than the Braves had.

Mike Hampton, listed 19th, was a Brave from 2002 through 2008, the final 6 years of an 8-year, $121 million contract he signed with Colorado in 2000.

Colorado paid much of Hampton's salary until 2006 if I am not wrong. So the Braves didn't take on much salary with Hampton on the roster. The Mike Hampton trade doesn't have much to do with this discussion in my mind.

That explains why Ruben is stuck on 3-year deals, eh?

Yes, it does. The model the Braves used was to spend money on pitching and keep those 3 guys around and take a hit to the back end of the pitching staff or the infield/outfield if necessary. I hate to say it, but with the development of the farm system, this worked for a quite while.

With Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz, the Braves developed position players through their system over the next decade - Ryan Klesko, David Justice, Javy Lopez and, of course, Chipper Jones - and tried to finish off games with strong but unproven arms from their system.

David Justice was on the Braves roster years before Javy Lopez, Chipper Jones and Ryan Klesko. I just thought I would mention that. More times than not, the Braves unproven arms worked. I like how Sam Donnellon is trying to prove how the Braves model isn't the best model for the Phillies by showing just how effective the Braves model was. It's a brilliant way of undermining your own point.

Mark Wohlers failed at that role after the Braves built a 2-0 lead in the 1996 World Series with the Yankees.

So the model didn't work because that one series Wohlers didn't pitch well, that means we can ignore the fact he was fairly lights out prior to that. He closed out the 1995 World Series with a 1-0 lead in the 9th inning just fine. I wouldn't call Wohlers a failure in the role of closer during his time with the Braves. Plenty of closers have given up leads in the World Series and that doesn't make these closers shaky or not good at their job.

Granted, Wohlers eventually had a mental breakdown and couldn't throw a strike, but he was an effective closer for a time.

So too did John Rocker, later on.

I come here not to defend John Rocker as a person, but here are his numbers in the postseason for his career.

He pitched 20.2 inning in his career, gave up 10 hits and 2 runs total. He struck out 26 players and walked 8 players, had a 0.00 ERA and a 0.871 WHIP. Say what you will about John Rocker (and we should), but he brought it in the playoffs, you know considering HE NEVER GAVE UP AN EARNED RUN.

Here are Rocker's stats during his three full years with the Braves:

1998: 38.0 IP, 2.13 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, 2 saves, 5.2 H/9, 9.9 SO/9, 5.2 BB/9
1999: 72.1 IP, 2.49 ERA, 1.161 WHIP, 38 saves, 5.8 H/9, 12.9 SO/9, 4.6 BB/9
2000: 53.0 IP, 2.89 ERA, 1.698 WHIP, 24 saves, 7.1 H/9, 13.1 SO/9, 8.2 BB/9

So for Sam Donnellon to say the Braves failed when they made John Rocker the closer is absolutely incorrect. If he wasn't an insane, racist man I think Donnellon would remember him more correctly and differently. This is just more proof the Braves model wasn't bad and the Phillies would be smart to follow it.

Yes, Atlanta won all those division titles and reached the World Series three times,

5 times. Don't worry, I won't let this accuracy affect my overall opinion of this column's accuracy. Actually, yes I will.

but their recurring flaw in winning only one world championship trended toward a suspect bullpen and weak bench - both staples of championship teams.

So the solution to having a suspect bullpen and weak bench according to Sam Donnellon is for the Phillies to have sunk a bunch of money into Cliff Lee and then not be able to afford to reinforce their bench and bullpen with Ross Gload, Danys Baez, Juan Castro or Brian Schneider this offseason. See, the Phillies couldn't afford to keep Lee and add these players.

I am sure everyone gets this, but Sam Donnellon thinks the Braves model stinks because according to him they never spent money on a bench or a good bullpen. Yet he wants the Phillies to break from this model and re-sign Cliff Lee so the Phillies can not afford to sign players to reinforce their bench and weak bullpen. HOW DOES THIS MAKE SENSE?

The Phillies have a budget, they try to sign players inside that budget. If they sign Lee, they can't do anything to shore up exactly what Donnellon says was the downfall of the 90's Braves teams. So the Phillies are trying a more balanced model of the 90's Braves model. How is this bad?

Did keeping three future Hall of Famers for all those years cash-strap them out of multiple world titles? It's a thought.

This is a stupid, stupid, moronic, idiotic, thought. Let's read this again...

Did keeping three future Hall of Famers for all those years cash-strap them out of multiple world titles? It's a thought.

And again...

Did keeping three future Hall of Famers for all those years cash-strap them out of multiple world titles? It's a thought.

One more time...

Did keeping three future Hall of Famers for all those years cash-strap them out of multiple world titles? It's a thought.

He is asking the question of whether the Braves should have saved money by getting rid of pitchers who were Hall of Fame pitchers to sign players who presumably weren't Hall of Fame pitchers or batters. I refuse to ever believe the fact a team keeps three Hall of Fame pitchers would EVER stop that team from winning multiple world titles. They could spend that money on a better bullpen or hitting, but then the starting pitching isn't as strong.

As a Braves fan, they could have had more balance offensively in my mind, that is possible, but it feels like insanity to think the fact they had 3 Hall of Fame pitchers would hurt prevent them from winning more World Series titles. In fact, I think having those three pitchers is what got the Braves to the playoffs and the World Series so often in the 90's.

What is certain is their fans grew tired of the near misses. From 1992 through 2000 combined, the Braves averaged more than 40,000 fans per game. By 2003, though - a season in which they won 101 games - that average was down to 29,643.

The fans didn't get tired of the near misses, they became spoiled and quit coming to games because they just figured success would always happen for Atlanta. It also has something to do with the fact Atlanta Braves fans, while great in number, are apathetic when it comes to attendance and noise level at games. It's embarrassing.

The Braves won 96 games in 2004, three more than the Phillies did last year. By then, average attendance dipped to 28,735.

So too much success will cause attendance to go down? Is that the ultimate lesson that Sam Donnellon wants us to take away from this? If a team is too good for too long, then attendance will decrease? Is this really a pertinent lesson when it comes to what the original discussion of this article is about?

If I am understanding this correctly, in the opinion of Donnellon, the Phillies shouldn't follow the 90's Braves model, which was based on keeping good starting pitching around at the expense of other parts of the organization. The Phillies are attempting to follow that model with more focus on keeping the important offensive players on the team around. What I think the fails to see is that the Phillies aren't following the 90's Braves model directly which may be a good thing for them, but if they had re-signed Cliff Lee, they would more directly follow the model. Yet Donnellon wanted the Phillies to keep Lee, which would have more caused them to follow the 90's Braves model he doesn't like more directly.

Got all that?

The Phillies dealt away both Jason Knapp and Kyle Drabek to rent Lee and acquire Roy Halladay. The Yankees held on to theirs when Sabathia was trade-deadline bait in 2008, and wouldn't part with a package that included prospects Phil Hughes, Austin Jackson and then-23-year-old outfielder Melky Cabrera when they had the chance to trade for Santana in 2007.

So this was a bad move. We are in agreement on this.

Imagine if they had done either, or both. They might have avoided missing the playoffs in 2008. It might even have allowed them to play the Phillies in the World Series in back-to-back years.

Obviously, Donnellon thinks this was a bad move to not trade for Santana and overvalue these prospects. If the Phillies had kept Lee though, they would have had to cut back in other areas, which would have led to a suspect bullpen and a weaker bench. He can't just make this fact go away just because it doesn't fit with what he is trying to say. There are limited funds available, we can't make that go away either.

I still find it quite ironic for a writer that covers a team which has built a team around many homegrown stars to believe prospects are generally overvalued. The proof of what happens when prospects are effectively developed is right there on the field for the Phillies.

Instead, Hughes was in the bullpen for the 2009 postseason, and was a suspect arm, at least against the Phillies. So was Joba Chamberlain, once the most untouchable Yankees prospect of all.

So because they weren't great against the Phillies in a 6 game sample they are now "suspect" arms? We are just going to ignore all these player's performance during the season and go with a 6 game sample size?

So in essence, the Yankees dealt Cabrera, prospects and $500,000 to acquire one of the game's better centerfielders and a 15-game winner - at least for the coming season. They see the ages of Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada as a rationale for loading up for another run next year. But they also shed the contracts of Johnny Damon and World Series Most Valuable Player Hideki Matsui.

I don't get the point this is trying to prove, other than the Yankees have more money coming off the books each offseason than most other teams. The Yankees could afford to make these moves because they had money coming off the books. The major point I think Donnellon is missing is that the Phillies had to reinforce their shaky bullpen and they couldn't do it and re-sign Cliff Lee after the season.

Once upon a time, the Indians were the Phillies' role model.

Another good model for a team. You can do a lot worse than the 90's Indians when it comes to building a team.

In 1996, when its collection of young stars included Jim Thome, Albert Belle, Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, Sandy Alomar and Carlos Baerga, Cleveland built its pitching staff mainly through trades and free-agent rentals. Late-career pitchers like Dennis Martinez and Orel Hershiser gave them a chance to win, but were their Achilles' come postseason.

I bet having three Hall of Fame type pitchers would have helped the Indians back then huh? Not in Sam's opinion, it would have hurt the Indians because then they couldn't spend money other places to help make the team better. So on one hand, Sam Donnellon questions whether having three Hall of Fame pitchers is a good thing for the Braves and then he criticizes the Indians for not having better pitching to go along with their great hitters. This man has no concept of budgetary constraints does he?

Back then, Cleveland drew 3.3 million fans a season, their average of 41,000-plus virtually unaltered through 2000. But the Tribe reached the World Series only once.

TWICE! Cleveland reached the World Series twice. Once in 1995 and once in 1997. My God, do some basic fact checking.

Cleveland had the unfortunate timing of running into the New York Yankees dynasty, a loaded Marlins team, and an incredibly hungry Braves team. The fact they didn't win a World Series wasn't a fault of the model, but a fault of the timing of the model.

Trading away two Cy Young Award winners over the last two seasons, the Indians dipped under the 2 million mark in attendance last season. They averaged 21,805 fans per home game.

This has nothing to do with the Indians 90's model. The Indians had to get rid of a ton of payroll over the last several years, so the model took a huge hit in effectiveness because of this.

The payroll is almost half of what it was in 2002 in 2005. So the Indians basically abandoned their successful model for financial reasons.

So be careful with our hearts, fellas. We've made you The Show in this hard-to-please town. Maybe we can't be the Yankees, but we sure don't want to be the Braves for the next decade either.

Yes, that would suck to win 14 straight division titles (yes, I realize the Expos were in 1st place in 1994 prior to the strike, so 14 out of 15 years isn't bad either). Why would any team want to have sustained success like that? Especially when Donnellon hasn't really proven there was anything wrong with the model the Braves used...other than getting rid of those pesky Hall of Fame pitchers of course.

Prospects are nice, even better when they turn out to be something. But please, don't lose sight of your cousins in Cleveland.

They have a ton of prospects over there.

And no one gives a damn.

The current Cleveland Indians model is different from the one they used in the 1990's, or at least it appears to be. The Indians did not trade good players for prospects in an attempt to stay competitive, but to start over and blow the current team up. The Phillies traded Cliff Lee in an effort to stay competitive and still rebuild the farm system from trading for Lee last year and Halladay this year. Otherwise they would have ended up with no money to spend in order to shore up a weak bullpen and a thin bench. The end result would potentially be exactly what Donnellon claims brought down the 90's Braves (even though I would probably disagree with this argument), which was a shaky bullpen and thin bench.

There are worse things to be than the 90's Braves and Indians and to believe keeping Hall of Fame pitchers on the roster prevented the Braves from winning more World Series is just incorrect. It's what got them to the World Series.

-Oh by the way, Javy Lopez pretty much admitted to using steroids. I remember John Schuerholz said he, the coaching staff, and the rest of the organization only knew of one player that used steroids and they were very sure about it. I always thought it was Gary Sheffield, but now I think it was Javy Lopez. This explains why the Braves made no attempt to re-sign Javy after his mammoth 2003 year. They knew it was just an attempt to get a new contract and he couldn't hit like that unless he kept using PEDs.

I always knew Javy was on steroids that one season, it's good to see I was pretty much right. So Javy Lopez, when I said you couldn't hit a bag of dogshit in a paper bag laid down at home plate on May 10, 2003 and everyone in the section of Turner Field I was sitting in looked at me like I was crazy when you hit a homerun, I was right.

You couldn't hit that bag of dogshit if you had played clean that year.

10 comments:

rich said...

BGF, I hate to nitpick, but Victorino isn't homegrown... He played a couple games for the Padres before the Phillies grabbed him in the rule 5 draft, spent a year in AAA and then was up with the Phillies the next year.

However as a diehard Phillies fan, this article pissed me off beyond belief.

The Braves were among the top spenders for much of their run, but a quick look at a list of all-time top career money earners in baseball underlines where much of that spending went. Maddux is seventh on the list. Smoltz is 13th, Glavine 14th.

The Braves rode their big three pitchers every year. The Phillies ride their lineup. Therefore, it makes sense that Victorino, Utley, Howard, Ibanez and Werth are all going to make more next year than they did this year.

That explains why Ruben is stuck on 3-year deals

That or the fact that a lot of these contracts were given to RFAs who aren't going to sign long deals for arbitration level salary when they can sign short deals that cover the rest of their RFA and then get the big bucks. Hamels, Blanton and Victorino all fall under this reasoning.

Polanco got a three year deal because he's old and why would you give him a long term deal?

See, the Phillies couldn't afford to keep Lee and add these players.

This I'd agree with on one level since they had something like 23M in raises to hand out this year (Hamels, Howard, Utley and Ibanez being the main culprits), but they also had Jenkins' contract (finally) come off the books, the portion of Thome's contract they were paying is off the books and last year Eaton's contract finished up. They also (should have) kept Feliz at 5M (1M less than Polanco) and let him walk in the off-season.

So it would have required some manipulation and it would've been hard to do, but they could have kept Lee (money wise). Of course, they would have had to sacrifice locking up Blanton and Victorino for 3 years.

By then, average attendance dipped to 28,735

The Phillies have never had a really bad attendance problem that I can recall. Philly fans love the team and if this jackass thinks that I'll ever stop giving a shit about the team because they keep getting "close" to winning, then I will personally find where he lives and kick the crap out of him. I'm 23 years old and I had to suffer through a lot of really bad Phillies teams. Last year was probably the highlight of my life (until the Flyers win). Did losing this year suck? Absolutely, losing always sucks, but the fact that after 22 years of watching them be awful (save for '93), having a reason to actually care about the WS is an indescribably awesome feeling. If they make the WS 3 more times in the next decade I'd love every minute of it. If they lose them all who cares, just having them in the WS means a lot to Phillies fans.

The Phillies dealt away both Jason Knapp and Kyle Drabek to rent Lee and acquire Roy Halladay.

Jason Knapp put up a 4.5 ERA in A ball. Drabek just had Tommy John surgery... You can project them to be awesome. Lee and Halladay are awesome.

So be careful with our hearts, fellas. We've made you The Show in this hard-to-please town. Maybe we can't be the Yankees, but we sure don't want to be the Braves for the next decade either.

No "we" can't be the Yankees, but like I just said, if the Phillies dominate the NL East for the next decade, I would be beyond exuberant. It would suck to see them get close every year, but 20-30 years from now to look back and go "hey that was a great ride" is still a massive improvement for Philly sports teams.

Dylan Murphy said...

I'll start by saying I'm a Yankee fan. That said, I understand that the Yankees sort of ruin baseball by being able to spend so much money. Baseball should get a salary cap. But I don't think anyone should blame the Yankees for spending their money. They do what it takes (or at least what they think, which does not always match what is smart) to win. I know you don't directly say this, but I thought I'd throw that out there.

Rich,

Totally agree with your first point. Although I don't think keeping Lee was worth it. As you said, their lineup is their core. While Lee may be in his prime, they would have had to sacrifice too much of their lineup to keep him and Halladay. While that one-two punch is ridiculous, we see it every year. You need a deep staff to win (among other things), not just a knock out one-two punch.

ivn said...

Reminds me of the column Shaughnessey wrote a couple of months ago where he chewed out the Red Sox for not signing Bay and/or Holliday and accused the ownership of giving up on competing with the Yankees. You know, despite the fact that the team makes the playoffs every year and has won more championships than the Yankees in the past decade. The Yankees win one World Series and every local writer thinks the sky is falling for their hometeam. Sheesh.

More ESPN schlock is up: Simmons has a cop-out "retro diary" of the second half of the Super Bowl (I guess he only tuned in after watching a Jersey Shore marathon with Adam Carolla and J-Bug) and our weekly favorite TMQ. I actually agreed in principle with his "fortune favors the bold" crap (I think the Saints did exactly what they should have done: be aggressive, take risks, and take advantage of Indy's mistakes) but that doesn't mean 95% of his column isn't full of shit. His choice for hidden play of the game? The Pierre Garcon drop that everyone has talked about. Classic Greggggg.

rich said...

Dylan,

Keeping both pitchers would have bothered me immensely for many of the reasons BGF already expressed.

However, I would rather the Phillies have Lee than Halladay for the following reasons:

Trading Donald, Marson, Carrasco and Knapp for Lee was a good deal. Turning around and giving the Blue Jays what they were asking for Halladay back during the season was stupid. So was trading Lee for pennies on the dollar (in terms of what they traded to get him).

It just didn't make sense to me that during the season the Jays were asking for too much for Halladay, but then during the off-season you pull the trigger on the same trade.

Basically they traded Donald, Marson, Carrasco and Knapp for the three prospects they got from the Mariners and Ben Francisco, which probably isn't a trade I make. Donald and Marson could have seen time with the major league team this year, Donald specifically. Had the Phillies kept him, they can pick up Feliz's option for 5M, let him walk next year and let Donald play 3rd. From what I understand, he was playing 3rd on occasion down in AAA. Since they make the trade, Amaro turns around and gives Polanco a 3 year deal.

In fact, the Phillies are now on the hook for ~10M more this year in Halladay than Lee. You could build a pretty good bullpen out of 10M. Maybe you give Lee the 20M he's looking for the next year, maybe not, but if you don't you have 20M to play with the next off-season when Halladay might have been available anyway.

Does Halladay make them better? Yes. Does it make them better than the Yankees? No. Last year Amaro made all the "right" moves to get the team to contend again, this year he's made some deals that have me wondering what he's thinking. The Phillies had the prospects to get Lee, but to then trade more prospects to get Halladay...Amaro just depleted a really good farm system to negligibly improve from Lee to Halladay.

As for a salary cap in baseball, I'm sure by now everyone has read the BP article on it from last off-season and I have to agree that a cap just wouldn't work in baseball. A salary cap works in football b/c of the massive tv deal(s) the NFL has, each team can afford max out and still make money. So the cap actually improves competition. Same with basketball, most teams spend near the soft cap levels, so it actually helps competition.

A cap in baseball? When really it's only 1-3 teams causing problems, you're not really making the league more competitive. You'd just take those top three teams and bring them down a bit, they'd still have a huge advantage.

If you take the cap down too low (say 150M), then the player's union will get pissed because that's less money for the players. So there'd also have to be a salary floor, which would not only cripple some teams, but also lead to smaller market teams handing out crappy contracts just to meet the floor.

Just my two cents.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, that's not a nitpick. I missed that. I asked a Phillies fan friend of mine if Victorino was homegrown a few years ago and he said yes. I guess he was wrong.

You are exactly right. The Phillies lineup is their Smoltz, Glavine, and Maddux. They have to keep that core together as long as possible. As much as it would be nice to not have this be true, it is true. I am glad you understand that.

I don't think this guy understands much about MLB contracts because a 3 year deal is not a bad thing and these guys (like you said) aren't going to want to sign 5-6 year contracts.

Money-wise they could have kept Lee and I know it sucks to think they got rid of him to get Baez, Schneider and those guys, but Donnellon even said in his article that a weak bench and lack of bullpen depth can bring down a team. Plus, I think Hamels will bounce back and be the #2 guy the Phils need. I know you see where I am coming from, but just wanted to mention the Phils could have kept Lee...it is probably true, but I don't know if it is worth sacrificing other players on the team.

I love Lee, but I would have Halladay over Lee everyday of the week. That's just me. So by trading Halladay for Lee was a victory, minus the prospects you guys got in return.

I have no idea why he brought up attendance numbers. They won't fall off with the Phils being so successful. For a guy who thinks teams overvalue prospects he sure hates losing Drabek and Knapp doesn't he?

Dylan, I am getting ready to marry a Yankees fan (she is a girl, I just wanted to clear that up), so I understand how the Yankees and I agree with you. They can afford to have that payroll and they fund other teams in the league who aren't willing to put a good product on the field for their fans (ummmm, the Marlins) so other teams shouldn't always bitch. It's their way of running a team and they can afford to do so.

I really do believe Hamels bounces back and the Phils are going to be fine without Lee.

Ivn, it is a panic column (that Shaughnessy wrote) and I have seen a few Braves writers writing a few of them this offseason. They see another team having success and the local team has to step it all up, which I understand, but sometimes full MLB seasons are based on luck and staying the course with what a team wants to do, it doesn't make sense to panic.

I read the Simmons retro-diary, I don't know if I will tackle it or not. I thought about it and have it bookmarked, but I haven't read it. I was hoping on Friday he would put another column up. I am all over the Easterbrook column though.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, in my comments I did forget to include the prospects the Phils gave up for Halladay. So you have a point when in your explanation about keeping Lee.

I still think the Phils made the right move with Lee but I can see how you would be against it. I love Halladay in the National League and I think the takes the ball on three days rest where Lee would not do that in the World Series. Of course you could have had both. The Phils have been pretty good over the past couple years with prospects, so they may know something we don't about the guys they got back.

I see your point on Lee though.

Martin said...

I think people are also missing out on the whole Braves thing in relation to the Colts, as well as what was going on with the Braves at the time.

The Braves made it to 5 World Series. They were clearly the best team in the National League for about a decade. It's not that they only won 1 championship, but that it felt like they "lost" at least 1 if not 2 more that they should have won. The Wholers Slider, Bobby Cox managing his bullpen like a 13 year old hopped up on Pop Rocks. That's why they are seen as a disappointment, at least to me.

The Colts have been one of the 3-4 best teams in the AFC for about a decade. They lost in the playoffs because they have faced teams that are as good as them. Maybe some of the losses should have been closer, but almost at no time did I ever watch the Colts in the playoffs and think that they couldn't/shouldn't lose a game they lost. They are 1-1 in Super Bowls, and lost in all the hoopla, the Colts did have to come back to win, what 6,7?, games in the 4th quarter this year. This was not a dominant team, jsut one that was a bit better then the other teams it was playing. They are going to need a couple more Super Bowl losses, (which with how strong the AFC is, I'm not even sure they are going to get to) to be talked about in the Braves range of disappointment.

Bengoodfella said...

The whole Colts/Braves thing is driving me bat-shit crazy right now. There is no comparison. The Braves were one of the best NL team for almost a decade and were playoff chokers. I just don't see the comparison personally.

Plus, exactly what you said Martin that it felt like they choked away some WS, or as many WS than Super Bowls the Colts have appeared in.

I agree with you that they were a great team this year but they had to throw a couple comebacks and get some help from teams to get there. I hate the comparison not because I am a Braves fan, but because losing 1 Super Bowl isn't even in the range of disappointment a team like the Bills have and the fact they haven't blown that many playoff games they should have won. The Braves are still top chokers in my mind.

MichaelQ said...

I totally agree with your evisceration of this terrible article and I know you are just trying to follow the author's logic as he continually contradicts himself but:

"...The Phillies to have sunk a bunch of money into Cliff Lee and then not be able to afford to reinforce their bench and bullpen with Ross Gload, Danys Baez, Juan Castro or Brian Schneider this offseason."

I understand why the Phillies traded Lee but if I was a Phillies fan I would give up that mess of near-replacement level talent to have Halladay and Lee in the rotation this year.

They probably strengthened themselves for the future by dealing Lee now but if you're just talking about this year they would be much more likely to win by having those two aces and a weak bench. Front line pitching wins in the playoffs usually, not bench strength or middle relief in my opinion.

The Phils still have a great team but they could have been the dominant team in the NL this if they kept Lee.

They would have been very unlikely to sign both next year though so t would have been a basically go-for-broke gamble on this year if they had done that.

Bengoodfella said...

Michael, you bring up a good point about the Phillies signing replacement level players instead of Lee. I am more of a big picture person and it does help that the big picture doesn't involve my favorite team, so it's easy for me to say not to sign Lee long term.

I don't necessarily think Baez, Castro, etc are great players but Donnellon was talking about how a weak bench and poor bullpen brought down the 90's Braves teams, but the Phils would be in the same position if they had not reinforced those parts of their ball club.

So you do bring up a valid point and I know not signing Lee doesn't make sense short term. I agree with you about front line pitching. That's how you build a team in my mind.

I can your point of view. I think the Phillies weren't comfortable in going for broke this year and thought they could dominate the NL East by building more for the future so that's the direction they went. I would personally rather have Lee, but if the Phils didn't win the WS then it is a sort of go for broke attitude.

Basically, this is a long term v. short term debate.