Philadelphia Phillies fans have been reduced to being thankful for potentially disastrous moves the team did not make.
The three signings the Phillies have made this offseason—Carlos Ruiz, Marlon Byrd and Roberto Hernandez—addressed specific needs for a catcher, a right-handed power bat in the outfield and a right-handed starting pitcher in the rotation.
That is the best you can say for those three signings—that they addressed specific needs. Because no one is buying tickets to Citizens Bank Park to watch Carlos Ruiz catch or to watch Marlon Byrd play the outfield.
So the best moves the Phillies have made this offseason are the ones they have (so far) refrained from.
Phillies fans love Chase Utley. He is still a player people want to see.
They used to love Ryan Howard, and if we're being honest it would only take a torrid April or May with a dozen or so bombs to bring that feeling back.
Jonathan Papelbon's act still plays when the Phillies are winning. Not so much when they're not.
On recent form, though, none of those players really moves the needle from a ticket-buying perspective.
Hamels, Lee and Brown are the three best reasons to come to Citizens Bank Park. Lee and Brown were All-Stars in 2013; Hamels might have been one if the team had ever hit for him.
Regardless, a ticket to watch Hamels or Lee pitch is still the Phillies fans' best bet for a return on investment; a well-pitched game that the Phillies will have a better-than-average chance to win.
As for Brown, Phillies fans have to be intrigued to learn which player Brown really is.
Is Brown the young, dynamic slugger who hit 27 home runs in 2013? Or is he the guy who hit 12 home runs (total) in three previous seasons, never raising his batting average over .245 in the process?
The Phillies' moves this offseason, then, are a paradox of action and inaction.
The three signings are a C, maybe a C-. Giving Ruiz three years and Byrd two feels excessive.
Holding onto the Phillies' three marquee names, though? That is an A.
Hamels, Lee and Brown are still the best reasons to pay attention to the Phillies at all.