The Philadelphia Phillies are spending like the New York Yankees. For years, the Yankees have spent more money than essentially every team in baseball. The philosophy has been to spend as much money as needed in order to field the best team. If there was a big-name free agent, the Yankees were going to sign him. Whether it was Alex Rodriguez or C.C. Sabathia, the members of the Yankees front office were ready to empty their pockets to bring the big-name player to New York. Now, the Philadelphia Phillies seem to have adopted a similar philosophy and will do whatever it takes to win another World Series.
Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies signed long-time Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to a 4-year, $50 million deal. The contract makes Papelbon one of the highest paid closers in baseball. Furthermore, it shows that the Phillies are willing to spend as much as needed to bring players to Philadelphia, and may even overspend to get a big name. In 2011, the Phillies were second only to the New York Yankees in spending with a team payroll of over $172 million. In fact, the only National League team that comes close to the Phillies in spending is the Chicago Cubs, who had a team payroll of over $125 million in 2011. Quite simply, the Phillies are spending more than any other National League team by a large margin.
Besides signing free agents, the Yankees have occasionally made trades to bring talented players to New York. Over the past few years, the Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. has made some of the most impressive trades in baseball. In a few of the trades, specifically the deals for Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence, and Ty Wigginton, Amaro has brought talented players to Philadelphia without giving up very much. In other deals, the Phillies have been willing to give up talent in exchange for the chance to win in the upcoming season. For example, while the team had to give up outfielder Michael Bourn in the trade for Brad Lidge, it worked out for the Phillies when Lidge was perfect in save opportunities in 2008 and helped the team win the World Series. Even in Amaro’s most controversial deal that sent fan-favorite Cliff Lee to Seattle and brought Roy Halladay to Philadelphia, the organization made it clear that it wanted to get the biggest pitching name available. Although the trade may not have been accepted at the time, fans would begin to forgive the organization when the Phillies signed Cliff Lee before the 2011 season.
The one major difference between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies is that many of the core players on the Phillies roster came up through the organization’s minor league system. Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Carlos Ruiz have spent their entire professional careers with the Phillies. Though Jimmy Rollins’ future in Philadelphia is uncertain, he also has been with the Phillies since he was drafted by the team in 1996. Interestingly, the Yankees shortstop, Derek Jeter, has played all of his professional games with the Yankees. Therefore, the Phillies and Yankees have both built teams around a young, talented shortstop.
Besides the use of the farm system, it seems that the Phillies have become the Yankees of the National League. The Phillies have shown that they will spend whatever amount of money is necessary to bring players to Philadelphia. The organization will also spend whatever it takes to keep players, which is evident in the long term contracts of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. The one major exception is the choice to part ways with Jayson Werth, but his statistics seem to show that he wasn’t worth that much money. Many fans in Philadelphia have always disliked the Yankkees and, besides the fact that the team is from New York, a big reason for the disdain has been that the Yankees could spend as much as they wanted to win games. Well, it appears the Phillies have become what the fans have hated, but if the team can win another World Series, I think the fans can get used to that.