So the Phillies are keeping the band together. What’s wrong with that?
Revisionist history says the Phillies made terrible decisions in giving all these longterm commitments to Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, etc.
This is just silly. What were they supposed to do with these guys? Walk away from them? Allow Ryan Howard to leave via free agency?
This group of players has transformed the Phillies from a losing franchise to one of the best in baseball. Between 1984 and 2006, the Phillies went to the postseason one time.
And then this group arrived and took them to the playoffs five years in a row, won the National League pennant twice and won the World Series in 2008.
Along the way, the franchise became monstrously successful. Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004, and 3 million became the norm. The Phillies led the NL in attendance three straight years.
So what did the Phillies do? They made a commitment to keeping the band together as long as possible. In a perfect world, their farm system would be supplying a pipeline of talent, but that’s another story.
With an older roster, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has done whatever he can to patch together one more run. That’s why Marlon Byrd makes sense. That’s also why Carlos Ruiz makes sense.
Yes, he may have overpaid for both players. If he stood around and waited for the market to settle, he probably could have found bargains in January or February.
But he was comfortable with Byrd and Ruiz. He thought they fit into his clubhouse. The Phillies did get younger last year as Domonic Brown made the National League All-Star team and Cody Asche and Freddy Galvis contributed.
But they’re built around Howard, Utley, Rollins, Hamel, Cliff Lee, etc. They’re going to go as far as those guys take them. If they’re all still productive, the Phillies have a chance to be a factor in a division in which the Nationals and Braves appear to be a cut above every other team.
To second guess Amaro is great fun. It’s part of the deal. Having spent his life in this game, he understands how it works.
He’s believed to be in the last year of his contract, so he probably feels some pressure to get the Phillies back on track. Now he has his manager, Ryne Sandberg, in place, and is getting closer to having a roster he believes in.
Again, it comes down to those familiar names being what they once more. In the end, that’s what matters, and it’s those guys who’ll either decide whether the Byrd and Ruiz signings pay off.