I suspect that I am far from an outlier on this topic.
I would love to be a fly-on-the-wall around John S. Middleton while he's watching Phillies games. I'm sure Mr. Middleton is also watching the TV ratings. The Phillies TV contract will be coming up for renewal in a few more years and Mr. Middleton and the Buck family will be looking for the huge dollars, and those dollars exist in abundance. The Texas Rangers just began a new deal that pays them Eighty million dollars every year. If the Rangers in that backward market are worth $80mil per year than the Phillies should have no trouble getting a hundred million. “Should” being the key word.
To get TV ratings in this market the Phillies need to keep people interested. They don't even have Harry and Richie anymore, and with each passing 1-2-3-go-the-Phils inning I'd like to blast that green puppet with both barrels of a twelve gauge and watch the feathers fly, and so would you.
So that leaves the team. Are you excited about watching Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino swing a bat? Those two might be the Phils 2nd and 3rd best hitters. Basically the offense is hoping that Rollins and Victorino get on base (which they aren't that good at doing) and then watch Hunter Pence try to drive them in. This is a recipe for finishing at the bottom of the game in scoring and generating TV ratings lower than reruns of Gilligan's Island.
And why is the lineup in such sad shape? It's not as if the problem is unexpected. The Phillies run production has been in a state of free-fall since the end of the 2007 season. Every fan of the team is aware of the problem. So why hasn't anything been done about it? Why am I still looking at Pete Orr and John Mayberry Jr., and before his injury Michael Martinez? These three guys are not MLB players. This is not my opinion, it is a certifiable statistical fact. So why are they here?
There are two possible answers to this and their names are Dave $$$ Montgomery and $$$_Jr., otherwise known as Ruben Amaro Jr.
Frankly, to me these guys look scared. They can't bear the thought of missing the playoffs. The best way to make the playoffs is to have the best pitching staff in baseball, and the Phillies probably have that. However, if your goal is to win the World Series then your team has to be able to hit. This was painfully evident against the Cardinals last fall. So painful I won't even go into it further.
So why did a Tigers team that could hit a lot better than the Phillies sign Prince Fielder to a huge contract while the Phillies brought back John Mayberry Jr., Pete Orr and Michael Martinez? Clearly the Tigers want to win the World Series. And maybe they want some TV ratings that outdraw nick@nite.
It seems to me that the $$$ twosome are operating under the belief that as long as the Phillies make that opening round of the playoffs their considerable paychecks are safe. This perception must change or the Phillies could languish for many years. In fact they could be looking at a disaster down the road in terms of both rating$ and wins and losses. This is due to the egregious mismanagement of the Phillies farm system which is detailed below in a previous post. This destruction of the Phillies farm system has not ceased. They are continuing with their polices of not paying top talent and boycotting any Scott Boras represented player no matter how good or how great the Phillies need.
Last year the Phillies used their first pick in the draft -1st round supplemental pick– to take not the best position player available in the entire draft -Jeff Bell who was still available– but some guy named Larry Greene. Mr. Greene seems ticketed for firstbase. Not a big problem given Howard's decline and length of contract. If Greene develops into a desirable 1B prospect the Phils can simply move Howard's contract that will be in its last year or two. However, Jeff Bell is a big-time five-tool outfielder whose hit-tool is outstanding, and he's also a switch-hitter.
Greene is a long-shot, Jeff Bell is as close to a sure thing as is possible for a high school position player. So why didn't the Phillies draft Jeff Bell?
As detailed in a past post on the destruction of the Phillies farm system, boycotting Scott Boras is a major part of that carnage. David $$$ Montgomery simply does not care about the farm system. David $$$ Montgomery is on a mission to destroy Scott Boras, the most successful agent in baseball history. David Montgomery has had zero effect upon the success or failure of Scott Boras, and Dave $$$ Montgomery never will have the slightest effect upon Scott Boras, but still $$$ persists in his insane, hate filled quest to assault Scott Boras no matter how negatively the effects upon the Phillies organization.
And the effects have been extremely negative.
In the draft tables included here you can see where the Phillies rank in their draft spending since 2007. It's not a pretty sight. I've highlighted the Red Sox, Yankees, Braves and Marlins for different reasons. The first two are the Phillies select peer group. There are three elite teams in terms of finances in MLB and the Phillies are one of them. Then we have the Phillies two division “rivals” in the Braves and Marlins. The Braves were once the king of division titles, but have not taken that title since 2005. The Marlins haven't made it into the playoffs or even sniffed a Wildcard since 2003.
Is it really a coincidence that the Braves and Marlins have fallen so far while spending so little on the draft? Do you see any other perennial powerhouse teams in the chart who happen to be in the bottom of draft spending? Even the Yankees with their massive payroll which has been that way for the last several decades spend above the average on the draft, and their spending is understated because the Yankees are one of the biggest spenders in the international market where the Phillies are again one of the most frugal. And yes the Red Sox also greatly outspend the Phillies in the international market so do an upward projection for them also (not that it's needed).
The consequence of this lack of spending is evident in the Phillies aging, dull, simply incompetent lineup. I cringe every time I hear the Phillies referred to as “The Phightens”. What kind of fight can a team put up with a lineup as punch-less as the Phillies?