Commentary: Phillies Are Now A Top Shelf Franchise

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, February 09, 2009 11:01 AM | Comments: 30
Commentary, Payroll, Posts

Twenty-four hours removed from the Ryan Howard deal, and there’s one easy determination: The Phillies are a lock-stock elite-market franchise. Look at the last six world champions. Sometimes, winning a title might be a curse for the payroll:

  • 2003 Marlins: $45M; 2004 Marlins: $42M
  • 2004 Red Sox: $127M; 2005 Red Sox: $123M
  • 2005 White Sox: $75M; 2006 White Sox: $102M
  • 2006 Cardinals: $88M; 2007 Cardinals: $90M
  • 2007 Red Sox: $143M; 2008 Red Sox: $133M
  • 2008 Phillies: $98M; 2009 Phillies: $130M*

Of the last six champions, only one besides the Phillies (2005 White Sox) substantially raised their payroll the next season. Those White Sox made the following moves to raise their payroll:

  • Signed Jon Garland to 3Y/$29M extension, avoiding final arbitration year.
  • Traded Aaron Rowand to Phillies for Jim Thome, adding approx. $30M over four seasons.
  • Signed Paul Konerko to 5Y/$60M deal; Konerko was free agent.
  • Traded for Javier Vazquez, adding approx. $19M over two seasons.
  • Signed AJ Pierzynski to 3Y/$15M deal, avoiding final two arbitration years.
  • Signed Joe Crede to 1Y/$2.675M deal, avoiding arbitration.
  • Traded for and signed Alex Cintron to $1.6M deal, avoiding arbitration.

Meanwhile, the Phillies patched up 11 arbitration cases and signed free agents amounting to approximately $10M in 2009. The White Sox had some internal moves to make, but they mainly figured to improve the team, it was better to look outside and make deals.

The Phillies were in a position unlike any team in the past. With the influx of arbitration cases at hand, the Phils had a seemingly impossible goal: Lock each case down. Somehow, they did it. Somehow, Ruben Amaro Jr. and Co. were able to satisfy their young stars, keep the window for contention open exactly three years and work the payroll to allow for flexible spending in 2010 and beyond. Those 2005 White Sox, meanwhile, went too deep on Konerko, took on a Thome contract that spread over a long period and took most of their arbitration cases into and through free agency. The Phillies? They merely handed out raises for good work.

The White Sox contended in 2006, winning 90 games, but finished in third place in the AL Central. 2007 was not kind to the Sox, as injuries (and the length of some of those contracts) started to eat at the franchise. Luckily enough, the farm system kicked in and a few good deals for cheap talent made the Sox contenders again in 2008. But their window is almost closed. This writer can’t see the Sox taking the Central in 2009.

The Phillies will contend until 2012. And it’s very possible they’ll contend beyond 2012. They’ve left room for signing the foundation players into their twilight years, while leaving plenty of space for the farm system talent to take over. For now, however, the Phillies are solidly an elite-market team. No longer can we cite the Yankees and Red Sox without mentioning the Phillies. No longer can we complain about being “small.” No. The Phillies are at the top shelf of baseball, now, and are surely acting like they belong.

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About Tim Malcolm

Tim Malcolm has written 1948 articles on Phillies Nation.

  • Posts: 0 Steve

    I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical when Pat Gillick left the Phillies organization, I felt that he was probably taking our chances for a repeat with him. However, I’ve been unilaterally impressed with what Ruben Amaro Jr has been able to accomplish in his brief tenure as GM. He managed to keep almost the entire 2008 WFCs together, and now this team should be primed to compete for a title for at least the next three years, and– can’t believe as a pessimistic Philly fan I’m saying this–I think they’ll win at least one more World Series in that time frame. If I were the MLB I’d be terrified of 2011 when half this team will be competing for a new contract. Even if the Phillies don’t manage to bring another championship to the city, you certainly can’t call out the management for not trying their best.

  • Posts: 0 Seacornat

    Bring on the Yankees! The Phillies should only get better over the next four years. Carasco & Drabek should sigficantly inprove the pitching. Brown or Taylor should push for playing time in the Outfield and Marson/Donald will inprove trhe infield.

  • Posts: 0 TOM G

    This should allow for some serious consideration of youth to move into the lineup…Donald, Marson, Carrasco, Happ etc…we have a luxury to bring these guys inot to play

  • Posts: 0 Justin

    from MLBTraderumors.com concerning Pat Burrell and his contract:

    Scott Boras says Pat Burrell “took a bad deal” when he signed for two years and $16MM on January 5th. Boras says Burrell’s contract froze the market for corner outfielders. He’s blaming Pat for Manny still being available

  • Posts: 0 Chris.I

    I’ve been saying that were the new Yankees of the national leauge for the past 2 years now. I might go as far as saying the new Yankees of baseball, but to be honest….There will never be another team in sports history who has accomplished as much as the Yankees have done. The truth is…we feared everyone for the past 2 seasons. Now teams have even more of a reason to be scared of our offense…Were coming off a world series championship, PLUS they have to face the same group of guys for the next 3 years! Not to mention we have the best (in my oppinion) bullpen in baseball. We’re the truth!

  • Posts: 0 Richie Allen

    Hey Tim …Great posts today.Cant decide which to respond to.

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    My hats off to Ruben. What a great job this off season. We stayed away from Lowe. Thank G-D. Moyer is just as good. He might get beat up here and there but he also throws those gems. Plus he is a great teacher for our young guys. Burrell I miss but it was time for him to go. I watched Ibanez and he can hit. Keeping the core, Utley, Howard, Rollins, Werth, Victorinio, Hammels. Thats the core that will lead us. Great job Phillies and I cant wait til April. Another fun season to be a Phillies fan…

  • Posts: 0 Grrrumpy Miner

    Phils are doing what most teams are supposed to do….Reward their home grown talent for their efforts and winning ethics.This is what made the 1996-2000 Yankees sucessful.

  • Posts: 0 Justin

    Let’s just hope they don’t do what the Yankees did and just try to buy championships by trading away our entire minor league system. They’ve always been good about keeping their talent pool in tact for the players they covet. I just don’t want to see the Phils having to buy players because we can’t build anymore.

  • Posts: 0 gabriel

    ruby jr. – more like gillick jr…
    i was happy even before rynho got his deal, this is just gravy now…
    i credit wade for his scouting dept. to get this ball rolling, gillick came in and just solidified everything. now ruby jr has locked it all in for the next 3 years.
    my elation levels have not at all subsided since the big win. in fact, i think they’ve risen!
    greaty moves ruby jr, great moves.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    I agree with this. Theyve committed to having a payroll well over 100M for at least three years now. Theyve positioned themselves for an extended run at the top. They definitely are among the elite franchises in the game today. However, if they are to take on the persona of one of the other big box teams, Id recommend the Red Sox mode. Yes they spend a lot, but most of that is on their own players. They kept their best prospects and signed them to contract extensions (Youkilis, Pedroia, etc) which is what the Phillies have done now. This allows for an extended run with your core group with minimal replacement over that window. I never thought theyd sign all their arb cases, especially Howard, but seeing what theyve done now theyre setup for an extended run.

  • Posts: 0 Mazinman

    These are certainly very special days in Philadelphia baseball. This team has the potential to be remembered as the greatest group in Philadelphia sports history. Cubs, Mets, bring em all on. I cannot wait until April!

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    And maybe this time Ryan Howard will spend extra time focused and improving his agility and defense and watching film of his plate discipline to improve in those areas as opposed to being distracted by arbitration. We all know when hes on hes the best, but hes been plagued by huge dry spells during the season (making his numbers last year amazing because he was horrible for weeks at a time). so if he cam come out of the gates blazing theyre in for a huge year.

  • Posts: 0 Groty

    Don’t forget, that’s a little bloated with the $8.5M due to Eaton in ’09.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    In all seriousness… be prepared for a SECRET TRADE with Ryan Howard soon… sometime within the next 2.5 seasons.. boom. see ya pal.

  • [...] Phillies are now a “lock-stock, top-shelf” franchise and are poised to be a contender for the next 4 years, [...]

  • Posts: 0 ryan

    It is so funny how ever since 2004, the Phillies have just went soaring past the Eagles as far as being the first class sports franchise in town. The birds have now been exposed as a fraud and the Phillies have shot straight to the top.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Phillies are without a doubt the hottest ticket in town… and Flyers have their faithful, but they are starting to get on the gossip page too… So far this season, Richards and Carter crashed a Temple Frat party.. Lupul was on VH1 getting on some lady on celebrity-rehab or something, and Upshall is dating some chick that the NBA.TV just hired as a host..

    Between the World Series, and then that actual entertainment from the Flyers players who are about our ages 25ish…

    Who needs that Eagles drama..

  • Posts: 0 Kev

    Didn’t take long for Geoff to take a shot at Howard now did it?

  • Posts: 0 Daktari

    You guys are going to be a serious club no doubt. Hats off to you…
    {Am I alone in thinking Howard was a steal?)

    I hope all teams can stay healthy this year, and that my Mets grow some balls and man-up to the task ahead!

  • Posts: 0 tim mccarver sucks

    The phillies are building and keeping the pieces intact to keep the winning going for at least 5 years. With more young talent comming along they will do what the Yankees should have done in keep there young players insted of fighting the national debt in payroll. I think the Phillies are the class of the National leauge and I think they can win a few more championchips in this run. We have to also give the credit to Pat Gillick who has taught Ruby pretty well. The only bad deal is Ibanez but he is in my opionion a stop gap for Brown.

  • Posts: 0 philsphan

    The Phillies should be able to contend through the 2011 season, and maybe further is their farm system continues to rebound. As for the White Sox they have a good shot to win the AL Central because it is so weak. I don’t see the Royals, Tigers, or Indians winning the division in 09 so that leaves the White Sox and Twins to battle it out like they did last season. Even if you think the Twins win win the AL Central, the White Sox certainly have a shot. It’s not like they are the Nationals or the Pirates or something.

  • Posts: 0 yeago08

    Ive been waiting for this my whole life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Posts: 0 Matt Kwasiborski

    After signing Howard, the Phils have definitely taken another step into the stratosphere of baseball. The Yankees get all the press, but for all the wrong reasons. First, we are nothing like the Yankees, not sure why that guy said that Second, we are a very likeable team, a team that should be the face of MLB for the next year at least. I do sense that the national media doesn’t like them and is ready to annoint the Rays or keep the Sawx in the limelight but let’s face it, our Phils are a great group of guys who love playing together, KNOW how to win mentally and are fun.

    The turning point for this group happened in 2007, when the team actually helped cover Coors Field with the Rockies ground crew when the Rox retreated back into the clubhouse.

    Face it- we are America’s baseball team!

  • Posts: 0 Grrrumpy Miner

    Matt,first off it was ME who compared this group of players……..but to a point.Yankees kept the bulk of their home grown winning and respectable talent like Jeter,Pettitte,Posada,Mo Rivera,and Bernie Williams that helped them win from 96 to Y2K.,Phils are doing the same with Hamels,Rhyno,Rollins et al.THAT was what I meant.From 2001 and after with Giambi,Mussina and A-R*d I do not use them with the others formentioned and I can never refer to them as “true Yankees”.Four more days til Spring….screw the calendar and groundhog (not litterally). LETS GO METS!

  • Posts: 0 Ed

    What I love about what has happened with this team is that they seemed to find the balance that the Sox found a few years ago and that the Yankees refused to notice. The Sox won buy adding a few key pieces here or there, mostly pitching, to a team that consisted of mostly home grown talent. The Yankees…they won all their rings when their home grown talent reached the majors. When they started buying players what happened? A whole lot of nothing but high payrolls and disappointing seasons. Now we come to the Phillies…highest payroll in history, biggest spenders of the off season in terms of pay roll increase as compared to last year…and their big free agent splash? Raul Ibanez? That is in no way meant as a slight, but rather to illustrate my point. It was Jayson Stark who pointed out the obvious and Tim echoed it here on this site…the Phillies sure up their core, their home grown guys for a few more years and then plugged some holes. And now what do we have? Back to back division titles…World Series title, and 3 more years with all of our stars. For the first time in probably my lifetime(25 years old) I can go into the Phillies season without a negative thing to say about the team or the organization. We wanted them to win and they did. We wanted them to spend, and they did, and they kept OUR team, OUR guys, minus Burrell, around for a few more years. Sure I am a little concerned about Utley being back for opening day but if he isn’t so be it. I am sure whatever he does will be in the best interest of the club and no matter what he will produce. This is our team and this is our time. To that I say Cheers to the Phils.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    This A-Rod stuff is great. Everyone is all acting like it was some great secret. This guy was the most obvious roid monster of them all. He looks like a genetically engineered pod person. Id be surprised if he didnt start using heavily in high school and just ramped it up over the course of his career. Ridiculous. A-Fraud….

    Meanwhile the Phillies are going to hit Spring Training with NO distractions this time for the first time in a long time. They are going to be focused and reayd to come out firing. Getting boosts from the returns of Feliz and Utley will help too. The bad blood and the name calling has been avoided this year (one way or the other, thats what needed to be avoided and they accomplished that) and they can roll into camp smoothly and focus on baseball.

  • Posts: 0 NEPA

    “He looks like a genetically engineered pod person.” hahah, great stuff.

  • Posts: 0 Kev

    A roid monster? when he came in the league at 18 he was 190, and how hes 215? He looks the same now as he did when he started with the rangers

  • Posts: 0 Dannie

    here is a good breakdown of what we can expect from our payroll from 2009-2012


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