The Philadelphia Phillies no doubt want to rebound from what was a frustrating 2012. Obviously, there are many ways to go about fixing a baseball team that was not quite functioning at full strength all season.
One possible way to fix this type of problem is going out and spending money. This approach has been used successfully by many teams, and it generally does help save a franchise for a few seasons.
However, if the Phillies are hoping to build a sustainable franchise, this winter needs to be very conservative.
Let me try to define what I mean by conservative.
The Phillies cannot afford to make any more massive signings on their current payroll.
It is no secret that the contracts of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon take up a lot of the team's financial flexibility. I'm not necessarily saying that all of these contracts are terrible, but they are significant in the sense that the Phillies are committed to paying them.
By being conservative, the Phillies would make temporary moves to fill in holes and complement these pieces they have already committed to for the long-term.
For example, we all know that the Phillies could use some help in the outfield. Exactly how much help is necessary is up for debate, but the Phillies will probably be in the market for another outfielder this winter.
A conservative approach would avoid guys like Josh Hamilton, B.J. Upton, Nick Swisher or other players who will probably command a longer-term contract.
A conservative approach would recognize that the Phillies are aging, and in the near future, they will need to revamp their lineup. Consequently, they would not want to sink large amounts of money into players who are aging right along with their current nucleus.
The purpose of employing such a conservative approach would be to make strategic moves that complement the pieces already in place while not tying down the flexibility of the franchise to begin thinking about the next generation.
This generation is not over yet, and it would not be surprising whatsoever to see Philadelphia compete for the National League East championship next season, but this winter needs to be conservative. They cannot afford to continue this type of spending.
Making another big splash might help the Phillies next season, but eventually, all of these contracts will still need to be paid even if all of the players are beyond their most productive years. That can be crippling.
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