Offseason Lessons 2009: Phillies Aren't Blank Check
Imagine this: You've been wallowing in the pit of 10,000 losses well in excess of two years now.
Your franchise's brutally consistent failure over the course of more than a century has earned your team the title "losingest team in the history of North American sports."
You carry the stigma of the notorious 1964 collapse and Black Friday debacle with you everywhere you go.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, you win. One month of near perfection on the baseball diamond erased almost three decades of mind numbing deficiencies.
Deficiencies that in 2008 were patched by the perfect Brad Lidge, a serviceable Pedro Feliz, the softball swingin' Matt Stairs, and the $8 million dollar pinch hit-man, Geoff Jenkins.
That very next offseason, the one the Phils had pined for since 1983, the one in which they entered the new season as baseball's best, they handed the keys over to a hot-shot rookie GM, Ruben Amaro Jr.
Under the tuteledge of Pat Gillick, Amaro was groomed to assume the role after Gillick's departure. Though the shadow of Gillick never fully dissipated, Amaro was the man who ultimately struck the gavel.
One Pat Burrell castoff, Raul Ibanez inking, and Cliff Lee acquiring later, and Amaro was on his way to orchestrating a second straight World Series appearance.
Now on his second go-round, he was left with a team that had holes.
In the World Series, the starting pitching, outside of Clifton Phifer, disappointed. The bullpen reverted back to regular season form. Their razor thin bench was exposed.
Now, don't get me wrong; this team was far from in shambles, but it had its flaws, and Ruben would be responsible for fixing them.
Of course the offseason came and we all know what transpired. Placido Polanco filled the gaping hole that was Pedro Feliz's turn in the lineup, err third base role.
Juan Castro replaced one of the worst, but more fortuitous Phillies in recent memory, Eric Bruntlett.
Brian Schneider filled in behind Carlos Ruiz as the backup catcher. Danys Baez will hope to serve as an upgrade to the departed, ubber-effective Chan Ho Park.
And Ross Gload rendered Matt Stairs free agency fodder.
Oh yeah—and Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor, and Travis D'Arnaud were flipped for Roy Halladay, while Clifton was sent to Seattle in exchange for several lower level prospects.
Almost forgot that one.
Finally, my point.
What we shouldn't take from this offseason is that the Phillies are cheap, that they don't care about winning, or that they are owned by Jeffrey Lurie.
What we can take from this offseason is that ultimately baseball is a haven by which people make their livelihood.
Just like when you go to the office and push papers all day. Or when you clean somebody's teeth, demolish a building, or make a sales pitch.
You wouldn't do any of that for free—well, except maybe blow up a building.
That's what the Phillies are. They support hundreds of people and their livelihood.
Us as fans may not want to admit it, and yes, for the past several years the Phils have been very good at hiding that fact. But eventually, once everyone is forced to take stock as they were with the Halladay and Lee deals, you have to wake up from your dream.
Look beyond the veil of fandom that professional teams try to blind you with, and you'll too see that if you cannot operate profitably, you're doomed to fail.
So take solace in the fact that Roy Halladay is a Phillie for the next four years. Remember, it may seem like eons ago, but it was only two short seasons ago when Cliff Lee made like Brett Myers and visited the farm to work on his "stuff."
Meanwhile, Roy Halladay just continued to mow down hitters like he's done every year for the past decade.
Put your faith in guys Scott Mathieson, Antonio Bastardo, and remember J.C. Romero should be well enough to contribute this year.
Whatever you do, don't ask the Phillies to be something they simply aren't.
After all, what fun is winning if you have to buy it?
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