Here is where this gets interesting. The videos of the upcoming MLB Draftees show players who are 17 to 21 years old. Kevin Maitan in the video above and the other videos available is 14 years old.
The last player who resembled Kevin Maitan in terms of talent at an early age was Bryce Harper and he began to generate this kind of spotlight at 16 years old. We have not seen a shortstop talent like Kevin Maitan since Alex Rodriguez was drafted first overall in 1993. However, A-Rod wasn't a switch-hitter.
This is where things begin to get more than perplexing. I've been watching the Phillies for over four decades. Every Phillies fan of this length of time understands the drought in talent from Latin America in the Phillies organization. There was Juan Samuel, Julio Franco and George Bell in a relatively short window of time and then there was nothing for decades.
There's a good explanation for this. An ownership change. Samuel, Franco and Bell were signed under the ownership of Ruly Carpenter who did things a different way. None of Carpenter's players called a press conference as Scott Rolen did and denounced him for having "No commitment to win". When Carpenter signed Pete Rose that contract made Rose the highest paid player in all of professional sports.
The largest contract John Middleton has given out was to Cole Hamels and that contract didn't stay here very long did it? How long did Jim Thome's contract stay here? Bobby Abreu? The only reason Ryan Howard's contract didn't leave almost as soon as it began is Howard's career imploded along with his Achilles tendon. When Middleton signed Howard to that extension he was sure Howard had a floor of 35 HR and 110 RBI and he would be able to dump most of Howard's contract as with so many others.
Have you noticed the sort of Latino players who do come up with the Phillies? Every one of them is flawed in some way. Not a one of them has that "star" look to them. From the time they arrive they have a short shelf life stamped on them. That's the opposite of Kevin Maitan, who looks like he could become a part of a MLB team for 25 years if we count his farm system years.
In 2013 the Red Sox won the World Series. Two years later and the Red Sox are already rebuilt and looking to finish off their team as a WS contender this winter with several young core type talents in their lineup and several more on the way from the farm.
Why do the Phillies - a wealthier franchise than the Red Sox - look like an expansion team going into their second season six years after their last WS appearance while the Red Sox are ready to go and their farm system is loaded as well? The Red Sox didn't acquire Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Blake Swihart or any of their stud prospects on the farm by selling their big league players to another team in the John Middleton style. The Red Sox have a very aggressive farm system that is very well funded. Most of the rules in place capping draft spending and penalties for spending in the July 2nd period are there to inhibit the Red Sox.
The Dodgers have the highest payroll in MLB. They have won their division three straight seasons. Yet the Dodgers are not rumored to be in long term trouble. There are no warning flags about an empty farm and aging MLB players. Indeed, the Dodgers have some of the best young talent in MLB on their big league roster or about to join it. People who keep track of international signings for the current July 2nd period have one chart for the Dodgers signings and another for the rest of MLB. The current expenditure estimate for the Dodgers in the current July 2015 to July 2016 period is $87 million.
EIGHTY-SEVEN MILLION DOLLARS.
In the past thirty-five years combined the Phillies have not spent $87 million in the international markets.
A year ago I was apoplectic about the refusal by John Middleton to pay Yoan Moncada, a 20 year old Cuban switch hitter with power who could play SS and would easily fit at 2B in MLB. Moncada was a perfect fit for the Phillies needs - not that a player with his skill set is or could be someone not in need by any MLB team - and even fit perfectly with their stated desire to "get younger" and "rebuild" a championship team.
So far, since the Phillies actually began their rebuild in October of 2011 and revealing their true intentions publicly on July 31, 2012 by dumping Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence for nothing, the only thing that has been built is John Middleton's $40 million mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.
While watching a Phillies game and grimacing at one of the Phillies propaganda ads in-between innings that has some of their players talking about going to baseball games with dad when they were children it made me wonder how Yoan Moncada would fit in such an ad. Would he speak in broken English or through an interpreter? Would he speak of dad or his excitement at playing in front of Fidel for the first time?
Mostly though I think of how much Yoan Moncada resembles Robbie Cano in his skill set and I think of how long Robbie Cano's contract with the Mariners is and how much John Middleton clearly detests paying baseball players. The fact that a player might not have a lot of ability to star in propaganda ads to tug at the wallets of season ticket holders is a factor as well given that John Middleton is obsessed with his personal fortune and how fast it is growing, and as revealed by his sister Anna Nupson, how controlling of every last dollar John Middleton is.
Raped by her own brother
Two of the Phillies last "big signs" out of the July 2nd market are Luis Encarnacion and Jhailyn Ortiz. Upon looking at video of Encarnacion I immediately nicknamed him "Hands of Stone". Ortiz looks like a DH, even though he was 16 years old in the video.
If you're John Middleton and you want your players to be controllable for their entire MLB life then you do not want athletic, powerful five tool Latin American players. This type of player as a group has a high incidence of hiring agents like Scott Boras and Jay Z to test the free agent market. Players like this have a very long shelf life in MLB. If they rise quickly they can become free agents at 27 years old and it's not difficult to envision such a player still going strong at 37 so a ten year contract is a possibility.
Not on the Phillies though.
Sold for Free Players
Cole Hamels contract is the largest and longest signed in Phillies history and as noted above it is no longer here. It's pretty safe to say that Max Scherzer's contract will not be traveling to another franchise as Cole Hamel's did. When you sign a player to a contract like that you are going to pay it.
John Middleton has never paid such a contract.
John Middleton has never signed a player like Yoan Moncada and everything written everywhere says that John Middleton will not pay Kevin Maitan. The current rumor has the Braves signing Maitan for just $4.5 million. Note the decimal point. That is not 45 million, it is four point five million dollars.
Future MLB Superstar
Keith Law has pointed out that the current agreement between the Braves and Maitan is illegal under MLB rules and to quote Law "There is nothing stopping another team from giving Maitan another million dollars to sign with them".
I would not have a second thought about giving Kevin Maitan another thirty million dollars to sign with the Phillies. At $35 million he would be a steal. Kevin Maitan is the best SS talent I have ever seen. He has Cooperstown written all over him, even at such an early age. Apparently the prospect of dealing with a player of such talent who would eventually require the largest contract in MLB history at some point down the road is an appalling thought to John Middleton. Of course, he could just use up Maitan's seven years and then let him leave, or sell him before his walk year for some "prospects", but John Middleton insists that he really wants to win. He screams that from the rooftops of his mansions. John Middleton is extremely loud in his shouting of his desire to win.
In 35 years of owning the Yankees, George Steinbrenner never once said he wanted to win. The rest of the baseball world screamed in rage about the continuous actions of George Steinbrenner which made it apparent to everyone that nothing else in his life mattered except seeing the Yankees win another World Series.
It is a Tale of Two Owners. One who never speaks of winning but shakes the MLB world with his spending that makes plain that desire and a different owner in a similarly rich market who screams loudly in public about his desire to make the Phillies a winner but who refuses to buy one player while the Dodgers and Red Sox are buying players by the dozen.
Future Pawn of John Middleton
Kevin Maitan is in a glass presentation case, ready to be purchased, but John Middleton is not even in the store. No, John Middleton is focused on the upcoming MLB Slave Auction in June. The Phillies pick first and the player they choose really has no choice but to take the slot money offered. John Middleton is focused on Jason Groome, a 17 year old pitcher from across the river in New Jersey. Jason Groome is a white boy who John Middleton believes he can control for his entire Phillies baseball life. John Middleton can sucker Groome with his "Phillies for life" rap and sign him to a very tradable contract if necessary that will net Middleton a bunch of "prospects" as the Phillies ever so slowly begin their next rebuild.
You see, John Middleton is a planner. His sister Anna Nupson and her lawyers have revealed this. John Middleton has a plan for the Phillies that runs through the next twenty years and includes the ascension of his son John Powers Middleton as the next owner of the Phillies. It is John Powers Middleton who will receive Anna Nupson's $200 million inheritance that Middleton and his lawyers tricked her into signing away unless Nupson's lawyers are successful in overturning this injustice.
How did we fans of the Phillies get stuck with this bloodsucker as owner of our team? Why should we continue to tolerate John Middleton's theft of our money? What has John Middleton ever contributed to bettering the Phillies? Why is John Middleton allowed to steal over a hundred and fifty million dollars every year that should be spent on buying players for the Phillies?