David Montgomery: “We’re Already in the Red”

Posted by Corey Seidman, Thu, December 17, 2009 08:10 PM | Comments: 77
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

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.)

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About Corey Seidman

Corey Seidman has written 210 articles on Phillies Nation.

Corey is Analysis Editor for Phillies Nation and also writes for CSNPhilly.com.

  • Posts: 0 wbodisc

    Don’ t know if you’re referring to me as one of the Negadelphians, but I’m on board will all aspects of the Phillies’ plan, including trading Lee. My problem is with the pitiful return we got for him. Adding Halladay and subtracting Lee means they’re still the best team in the NL if healthy (and the best by a wide margin if Hamels/Lidge rebound). But please be honest with yourself — subtracting Lee and adding nothing in that end of the deal that will help before 2012 is a major missed opportunity. That’s all I’m saying.

  • Posts: 0 WORLD

    The Phillies should have traded for Halladay after they got Lee last year. Had they done that, methinks they would have won the World Series and be looking at 3 in a row in 2010.

    For goodness sakes, the franchise is the worst in terms of losses in the history of professional sports. In the history of the franchise, they’ve only won twice.

    They had a chance to make history. Amaro and Montgomery played it cheap and blew it.

  • Posts: 0 Geoff

    Im mainly talking about the people that are calling them cheap and that theyll never win again because of this and so forth….ridiculous stuff…

  • Posts: 0 Ben

    world, do you know what they wanted for halladay? drabek, brown, gose and happ and no sort of extension talk.

    do you realize what sort of bounty that is? its ridiculous. they didn’t play it cheap, they made a good decision and got him for a fraction of that cost, and an extension.

    you guys can make up fantasy trades and ideas and say that management is stupid/cheap/short sited for not making them, but once you start actually thinking them through and not making quick statements you’ll see they did a hell of a job to land the best pitcher in baseball.

  • Posts: 0 wbodisc

    It’s not Aumont, Gillies, and Ramirez vs. two picks. It’s Aumont, Gillies, and Ramirez vs. two picks AND Cliff Lee in 2010. I like the second one much better — it’s not even close.

    But I get it. I understand that Lee in 2010 breaks the $140M threshold. And I didn’t expect three out of Seattle’s top four prospects like Toronto got for Doc. However, there was no gun to Ruben’s head to trade Lee on the same day. If it was — as rumored — a PR move to avoid getting the fanbase excited about the prospect of teaming up Halladay and Lee, then it’s a misguided one, because the Lee trade as it went down was even worse from a PR standpoint. With Halladay and Lackey off the market, don’t you think Ruben could have at least explored the market for Lee?

  • Posts: 0 Griffin

    Phils pick up Rollins’ 2011 option for $8.5 mil. Given the lack of middle infield prospects in the minors, this was a no-brainer.

  • Posts: 0 wbodisc

    World, nobody hates the Lee trade more than I do, but the Phillies are certainly not cheap. A payroll threshold of $140M is pretty generous for a franchise without YES/NESN-type TV bucks. And don’t forget that they were willing to eat a contract mistake like Adam Eaton rather than keep trotting him out there and hurt a contending team.

  • Posts: 0 Ben

    wbodisc, i see what you are saying, and i guess we can just speculate. i agree with don m though, look at the two most recent lee deals. one for 1.5 years was for 4 marginal prospects. one for 1 year was for 3 slightly better but younger (overall) prospects.

    to say we could have shopped him and got a vastly greater return is a tough sell given history. who’s to say the market doesn’t realize their position, and only offer us scraps knowing we HAVE to move him. also, we didn’t trade him to a perennial contendor, which are the teams that would obviously offer the most for a one year rental. we trade him to the yanks/red sox/angels, we have a much greater chance of seeing him in the series (if we get there) than if we trade him to seattle. if we trade him in the NL we see him during the year AND possibly in the playoffs.

    i haven’t seen a legitimate idea for where he could go that would have worked better for us.

  • Posts: 0 wbodisc

    Fair points all around, Ben. But didn’t Toronto pretty much HAVE to move Halladay after five months of non-stop rumors? And didn’t they have even less leverage because it was pretty widely known that Doc wanted to come here?

    Cleveland’s return on Lee has been questioned, but at least Carrasco, Donald, and Marson — who were highly touted like Aumont/Gillies themselves once upon a time, I might add — were at the AAA level. Prospects below AA are pretty much a lottery ticket. Plus, Cleveland was rebuilding. The Phillies are a two-time defending NL champ.

    Maybe there wasn’t more to be had for Lee. But after the post-season he had last year, and considering his reasonable salary for ’10, I’d be really shocked if there wasn’t.

  • Posts: 0 John

    wbodisc, that’s wrong. It’s Aumont, Gillies, and Ramirez AND 4 YEARS OF ROY HOLLADAY vs 2 picks and 1 year of Cliff Lee.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    As I said before….let’s just wait and see what these three prospects do before we start calling this a bad trade….and we won’t fully realize that for a few years..

    I’d be willing to bet that AT LEAST one of them will be in a Phillies uniform (not Reading either) by 2011 sometime….contributing…and making Cliff Lee an afterthought…

    And even if they’re not….we’re still a BETTER TEAM today than we were the day World Series ended..

  • Posts: 0 Ben

    wbodisc, completely agree with that. my initial reaction was just like yours, but after hearing everything, and really thinking about it, at the end of the day, we probably should have gotten only slightly better prospects for lee. but then you have to find someone to give them and it has to be a team we don’t mind shipping lee to.

    so i’m not up in arms over getting 3 low but good prospects over something like 2 low and one AA prospect. thats really all i think lee could have commanded. he’s not landing an impact MLB bullpen arm or any stud AAA or probably AA player. he’d land good low end prospects (what we got) or decent AA prospects (probably something between carrasco and drabek).

    at the end of the day, this deal allowed halladay to come to philly. thats how i’m viewing it, and thats why i’m happy about it.

  • Posts: 0 wbodisc

    Sorry John, Halladay and Lee are separate trades — none of the Seattle guys went to Toronto. And all but one of the years of Halladay are the result of an extension signed after the trade was completed. But I get your point — Lee had to go to get Halladay. Which is fine. Halladay’s better. But the Lee part of the trade is a crapshoot at best.

  • Posts: 0 Ben

    what i meant by the “between carrasco and drabek” comment was he could have gotten a AA pitcher a probably little better than free falling carrasco (think carrasco beginning of the year not mid year), but no way he could have gotten a drabek type prospect.

  • Posts: 0 Ben

    wbodisc, but you can’t view them totally in isolation, b/c without one the other doesn’t happen. lee is not moved if halladay doesn’t come and halladay isn’t coming if lee isn’t moved. its very easy to look at them as COMPLETELY isolated deals, but they aren’t. they happened at the same time b/c they had to happen at the same time.

  • Posts: 0 wbodisc

    Thanks Ben… as you can tell, I’m having a hard time letting Lee — and the “what ifs” — go. But yours is a sensible perspective.

  • Posts: 0 wbodisc

    I will say this also: Halladay is thrilled to be here. Lee is furious that he’s gone. How great is it to be a fan of a destination franchise? I remember the days of the Bobby Bonillas and David Cones of the world using the Phillies to get more money from New York.

  • Posts: 0 Front Office Clowns!

    For some of you to tell us “enough”or “negadel” is very distrubing to say the least. When it all finally went down I got so mad they kicked me off of Philly.com. Cowards. Going back to just before the July trade deadline….. The series of decisions that ensued by the Front Office of the Phillies will go down as the worst baseball decisions in MLB history.

    -You get Lee(great move) and then you pass on Doc because the Jays wanted their “untouchable” props. Then you fail to acquire BP help. Which costs you your 2 most conts. starters in the playoffs. Then you blindly hope Cole returns to form even though he admitted to not being ready for the season and pitched badly most of the year. You get back to the WS, but not before you chall. the Yankees to a dual at dusk. Then you start Pedro 2x and you loose to the Yanks going away. Phils didn’t even show up for Game 6. So you then you get Doc (for those previously untouchables) and then you trade Lee for broken down scraps that you could’ve gotten from Fred Sanford’s back yard.Then you try to mislead the fans with the “baseball decision” bs.

    -The Yankees lost 4 million last year winning their title.But somehow, someway they picked up a great CF from the Tigers.

    -The Phils had a 3peat gifted wrap. Get Lee/Doc in July. Beat Spanky’s Yanks last season and be by far the favs in 2010. I say we win this yr too with both. Then let one walk after the season and get the draft choices. Then sit back, grap a cold one and watch the Yankees and Boston Redsox fight to the death over him. It was so simple it’s almost hard to believe. No MLB team will ever get the chance that the Phils blew ever again. And Werth is gone next yr too. The fun times won’t be lasting much longer…

  • Posts: 0 I M PHILLIE FAN

    From a 65 year Phillies fan I would like to wish all of the Phillies players, staff, etc. a very Merry Christmas…..with the exception of Ruben and Mr. Montgomery…
    70 sellouts out of 82 dates and we are in the Red…..having been a business man most of my life, i find this to be highly unlikely,,,,unless the owners are taking their payday in the first five years instead of 20 years, as they should. The added merchandise sales that would have been generated with keeping Lee would have paid the bill in one week. The Eagles have Merchandise stores off campus, the Phillies would make out better than the Eagles, if they would have kept Lee. As it is, with 70 sellouts, playoff, and WS, they already have a license to print money. We pay to go to the games, busy merchandise and they are apparently writting checks to themselves. Ruben claims it was all about a Baseball move. A better baseball move might have been to go to the WS for the third time…..1942-43-44 was the last time a National League team went three straight years….65 years ago,,,,wow Ruben, maybe we could have been the first to do it in 65 years. So if maybe we really did need to get rid of Cliff, why couldn’t we get a relief pitcher and two prospects. It seems to me that we only have one pitcher that might go the 9 innings, so our most pressing need is still out there…..Tell me that Cliff Lee would not have been worth some good reliefers.

  • Posts: 0 JJFritz

    wbodisc… that one year you are referring to as only being because of the extension signed after the trade was completed is off. The trade would not have been completed if the extension could not be reached. That was an integral part of the whole process — dealing Lee to replenish the prospects lost, AND the Halladay’s extension. So far, things are going well for this off-season. 3B Polanco, SP Halladay, Bench — Schneider, Gload, Castro(maybe). But, we still need another SP if Moyer isn’t ready, and we still need to fill the bullpen out with respectable, reliable pitchers. More emphasis on reliable. We need someone for middle relief, and preferably someone who can close in order to relieve the stress on Lidge and Madson at the back end of the pen. After that is all done, then we will see just how good of an off-season it’s been. Good so far; let’s keep it up!

  • Posts: 0 Front Office Clowns!

    Wrong! Are u serious with your mention of Moyer?? The Braves have silently put together a very strong 2010 team. The arrogance of some posters to think a trip back to the WS is automatic is crazy. You gotta get in 1st. If we keep Lee are u still saying we need another starter?? And if they were so money depleted they could’ve let both go after this season if they would’ve signed both in July. The pickups have been good, but our roration is the same as it was 2nd half 2009.

  • Posts: 0 Philsgirl

    To I M PHILLIE FAN (and Dipsy in other posts) – heartily agreed about the business sense/short-sightedness/inflexible pocketbooks of the organization. Merchandise sales alone that “could have been” with keeping Lee this year and in having way better chance at being WFCs in 2010 *should* be a significant thought in minds of powers-that-be. What do you think Christmas sales for Phils merchandise would have been had we clinched WS for 2nd year rather than what they will be this year? Or maybe the cost of another parade and the clean-up was too worrisome for the organization. Pitching wins games. This could have been an historic year with Halladay-Lee-whoever-whoever-whoever (I remain pessimistic on Hamels in 2010); even without the greatest bullpen, great starters who can finish games make a huge difference. Whether we would have lost Lee next year is irrelevant, our core is going to change over the next couple of years anyhow and I don’t care who we’ve got in the farm system, *this* was pretty much the year to have had the opportunity to get one more year stitched on our team banner (god, it still sucks to see Skanks banner with 2009 on it in sports stores) in this generation.

  • Posts: 0 wbodisc

    JJFritz, you’re right that Halladay’s signability vs. Lee’s is what made this happen. But the extension years can’t count as part of our haul from Seattle — they were negotiated separately, and the Mariners certainly can’t be credited for it (if anything, credit Toronto for giving the Phillies a negotiating window). And I’ve been saying all along that it’s fantastic to have Halladay and that I have no problem with trading Lee. It’s the wish-upon-a-star prospects the Phillies got that are the flaw in the twin trades. Even the Schilling trade brought four legitimate big leaguers who actually wore Phillies pinstripes (that may sound too kind in the case of Travis Lee, but he WAS a regular for a few years). Believe me, I truly hope I’m wrong about Aumont & Co., but if the goal was to replenish the farm, high-ceiling/high-risk class A guys are a funny way to do it.

  • Posts: 0 Just Crushed

    A salary dump, a sell out of the fans and terrible treatment of a Cy Young award winner. An sad week for the organization and Phillie fans everywhere.

  • Posts: 0 I M PHILLIE FAN

    I really do miss the wonderful METS fans on this website…..for the past two years, every other post seemed to be from the great, wonderful, kind, thoughtful METS fans…..I wonder where they went????? METS fans are almost as “wonderful” as Cowboys fans. 2010 final standings will be: 1. Phillies 2. Braves 3. Marlins 4. tie between the Nationals and Mets.

  • [...] Look, we think somebody’s showing up for a physical in early January.  It’s just a matter of who. Danys Baez?  Mike MacDougal?  Miguel Batista?  What are you barfing about?  This is exactly the type of pitcher Amaro wants.  Roy Halladay, whether you like the signing or not, devoured a lot of money on his way into Philly, and get this, we were apparently already in the red anyway. [...]

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