Shortly after Comcast Sportsnet aired the Ruben Amaro/Roy Halladay press conference, Dave Montgomery went on 97.5 FM with Mike Missanelli. In the brief interview, Montgomery mentioned that, and I’m paraphrasing here, “[trading Lee] wasn’t a matter of avoiding going in the red (i.e. losing money,) because the Phillies are already in the red.”
Odd that on TV, Amaro had just made it clear that this was a “baseball decision” geared toward landing prospects. The sound bite we all heard was that Amaro didn’t believe in “leaving the cupboard bare,” and that “trading 7 of your top 10 prospects is not the way to do business in baseball.”
Amaro was also quoted as saying, “If I had my druthers, I’d love to have both [Halladay and Lee] on the club.” This was a strange thing to say, considering his druthers should be the druthers that matter. You’ll hear this spun as “Amaro isn’t really running the team,” or “This was an ownership decision,” but it just as well could have been a poorly-worded phrase.
I will say, though, that Amaro’s stance led us all to believe this was about prospects, but Montgomery’s stance made it seem like it was about money. Montgomery admitted that the allotment budgeted for team salary is drawn up with the assumption that the team won’t make the playoffs, which makes sense even with a team as wildly successful as the Phillies have been the past few years.
Obviously, Montgomery and his partners know that the Phillies will, once again, be favored to win the NL East, but with all of the things that could possibly go wrong during a grueling 162-game season, it makes little sense to spend more money and go deeper in the red under the assumption that you’ll make that money back during the playoffs and/or World Series.
The counter-argument to the previous paragraph is that the Phillies ownership group bought the team for $30 million and it’s now worth $500 million. A few million here-and-there during the peak of this franchise’s history shouldn’t be as important as they’ve made it out to be. (Note: this is not my opinion, but this is a valid counter-argument as to why the Phils should have kept spending despite being in the red a couple mil.)
What does this all mean? Probably nothing.
When all is said and done, this was likely about prospects and money, not one or the other. It just appears to be slightly more so about money than Amaro led us to believe.
FREE AGENT UPDATE: My hero, Jayson Stark of ESPN, is reporting that the Phillies are the most interested of the eight-to-ten teams that are “actively pursuing” Mike MacDougal.
MacDougal was once a highly-touted prospect in the Kansas City Royals organization, but, we all know what usually happens with Royals prospects.
His best seasons were 2005 and 2006, a two-year span in which he saved 22 games and compiled a 3.35 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 99 innings pitched. Last year for the Nationals and White Sox, MacDougal saved 20 games but had very ugly walk and strikeout rates. He walked 6.3/9 and struck out 5.6/9, two atrocious numbers for a late-inning reliever.
It would be a low-risk signing because MacDougal probably won’t get more than one-year/$2-2.5M. At least, he shouldn’t. If the Phils end up signing him, though, there is still significant work to do in order to shore up the bullpen.
(Ok, now I’m off to watch Colts-Jaguars. Joseph Addai better not in the second half of this game. My fantasy season may hinge on it.)