The Philadelphia Phillies might be the worst run team in all of Major League Baseball. Period.
Within the next year to a year-and-a-half, the Phillies will likely find themselves struggling to stay afloat amidst a young, hungry National League East division. In recent years the Phils have overpaid for Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay and now Cole Hamels.
Since deciding the organization needed to be World Series favorites every year, their signings have become increasingly suspect.
Realistically speaking, the team has mortgaged its future for the sake of retaining four players specifically: Hamels, Halladay, Cliff Lee and Howard. They are on the hook for over $90 million per season on those four players alone. Granted, the team will see Utley's $15 million contract fall off after next season, but they have Jonathan Papelbon and Jimmy Rollins locked up for about $24 million.
The Phillies are in trouble. They have built a team that needs to be "all in" every year with aging stars and big contracts.
Generally speaking, that is not how winning is done in Major League Baseball any longer. The 2011 World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals had the 11th-highest payroll on opening day last season.
The 2010 San Francisco Giants had the eighth-highest payroll. When the Phillies won it all in 2008, they had the 12th-highest payroll in baseball.
Naturally, the Yankees were an exception in 2009 with the highest payroll in baseball.
This year, the Boston Red Sox's opening day payroll was over $173 million, third highest in baseball behind the Phillies ($174 million) and the Yankees ($197 million).
In that respect, the Red Sox should seriously consider becoming sellers and trade most of their players while they have value now. It's a seller's market.
Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia will never have value like he does now. Granted, he is only batting .233 with a .289 OBP, but he is leading all catchers in home runs with 19 with 45 RBI often times batting out of the eighth spot.
Cody Ross offers the same story. One could argue that his value has never been higher. He has been an extremely important part of the Red Sox lineup and cost them almost nothing. His value would be much higher to a genuine contender looking for an outfield bat.
Jacoby Ellsbury is another player whom the Red Sox should look to unload. A team like the Washington Nationals would love him, and the Red Sox could look to get something along the lines of Anthony Rendon and Ross Detweiler as a package in return.
When Ellsbury hits free agency the Red Sox do not need to add another $20 million in payroll on a star player. They have enough depth in the minors that the loss of Ellsbury would not be significant.
Two more players who could be moved would be Josh Beckett and Mike Aviles.
Of the two, Aviles would be more easily replaceable by the likes of Pedro Circiaco or even Jose Iglesis. The list goes on. Kelly Shoppach, Vicente Padilla, Scott Atchison, Alfredo Aceves and Ryan Sweeney could all be shipped out for whatever lottery ticket prospects the team could get in return.
That leaves the Sox with a lineup of Ryan Lavarnway at catcher, Adrian Gonzalez at first, Dustin Pedroia at seccond, Iglesis/Circiano at short, Will Middlebrooks at third, Carl Crawford, Ryan Kalish and whatever other OF the team would have left after a fire sale. Perhaps Daniel Nava? Lastly, David Ortiz would of course still be on the team.
Doesn't look all too different from what they've been using this season, does it?
As for pitching, the team should focus on Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, Franklin Morales and Felix Doubront as the mainstays. Likely they'll be stuck with Lackey, but if they wanted to deal him and a guy like Aaron Cook off, they'd have room for an acquired arm like Detweiler.
Then comes the hardest part of it all: the wait for Matt Barnes, Anthony Ranuado, maybe even Stolmy Pimetal.
With plenty of young bullpen arms in the system and the shedding of the excess contracts, they'd have tons of money freed up which would afford the team room to get an outfielder if they don't think Kalish can develop (maybe a Denard Span, he's young and improving and would not cost $20 million per season).
Rebuilding truly is the only way for the Boston Red Sox to go.
While right now it appears as though the ownership is more concerned about the bottom line versus the product they put on the field, I'm no so sure profit margins would take a huge hit regardless or at least would be offset somewhat by having the payroll go from $180 million to roughly $140 million for this to work.
While the team has squandered money hand over fist in recent years, they still have a fairly deep system now and the right infusion now would vault it to the top or at least close.
Lest we forget that the Red Sox always will have financial advantages (Fenway will still sell out 90 percent of the time, ratings on NESN won't go down too much from their lowered position now) combined with a top five system should keep a sustained winning machine in Boston.
When they re-sign players they should let walk, trade good prospects or younger guys for free-agents-to-be (need I remind you of the Justin Masterson for Victor Martinez deal?) they are straying from their advantages.
The Sox should focus on filling holes with moderately priced free agents as they did with Cody Ross, and if they can't win it that year, ship them out for more prospects.
They've handicapped themselves in some regards. They're stuck with Crawford, Lackey and Gonzalez's contracts for a while now. This rebuild is the only course of action.