Crosspost: The Phillies “window” is not closing any time soon

I’m not going to make a habit of linking the content on my other site here on this site. But I wanted to write a piece that addresses the ridiculous arguments I’ve seen intimated here and elsewhere that this trade, or any of our past trades, is somehow going to cause the Phillies to become less competitive over the next 5 to 10 years. You can find the piece right here. I stated just about everything I had to say in that post, but if you have specific comments or feedback, I’ll answer it in the comments either here or there. Enjoy.

63 thoughts on “Crosspost: The Phillies “window” is not closing any time soon

  1. I think the term “the window is closing” just needs to be further modified by adding “on this special group of Phillies.” I think that is what most people mean when they the window is closing. I think it is clear that the Phillies can co.finish to contend with a 175 million dollar payroll. The problem is that you might not have arguably the 125 yeaR old franchise’s best second base, short stop, first base and pitching prospects all come up together. The window that is closing is the one that represents this almost impossible confluence of talent coming through the organization all at once. The Phillies will continue to contend but the window of time to contend with Rollins, Utley, Howard and Hamels will not stay open forever.

    1. Sure, this makes sense, but the impression I get when I read the comments here, on other boards, and on twitter is that people genuinely feel that in the next few years, the Phillies franchise is in serious jeopardy because we keep trading prospects. This group of players will be at the end of the line in 5 years. But the Phillies, the team, the brand, will continue to grow and get stronger.

      1. James, I love your site! It has to be the best run amatuer scout site for a team on the internet. You offer excellent insight with very little bias. There are very few people on the board(if any) that have any true knowledge of scouting. What is amazing is that people read your write ups, read other scouting sites, and look at stats and automatically become “experts”.

        Baseball is probably the hardest professional sport to scout. There are many reasons for that starting with the wide age range/physical maturity of the players involved. Each level of baseball is like a completely new sport. Domination in high single A doesn’t always translate to success in AA. In addition there are innumerable intangibles that aoften can’t be qualified to make it to the major leagues and stay there.

        The Hunter Pence trade cannot be properly evaluated for at least 3 years(maybe longer). In the meantime, the Phillies took a PROFESSIONAL gamble to get a player to help the win the world series. How can people judge Pence now when he hasn’t played a game for the Phils? Cosart and Singleton are gone!!!!! I will commiserate with everyone else if they become superstars. Until then….

        We just had an interesting draft and I look forward to your insight as well as those who see these new prospects play live.

        Keep up the great work James. Don’t let the “experts” get you down.

        1. hey splits……’baseball ain’t rocket science, its just sabermetrics….’, Billy Beane. We can all be experts.

        2. How can people judge Pence now? He does have a large body of work, which can be evaluated, no? I don’t get your argument. The supporters of the trade can judge the trade now and be very strident in their views, but those who are not keen on the trade cannot judge it now? How does this one-sided availability of adequate information for assessment work in your mind?

          1. Bingo.

            Really, I’ve even lost interest in debating the merits of the trade in and of itself. What cracks me up now is that what was a reasonable (if IMO mistaken) defense of the trade by PP intially has morphed into a “heads I win, tails you lose” argument by PP. Accept the debate on his terms and the trade is by definition a good one. And those are the only terms he will “debate.” Which is of course silly.

            I think it is clear that, given the team’s resources, they are in the long run going to win more than they lose. That’s great. But to argue that that fact (and the strategies adopted to fit that reality) by itself justifies every move made by the team … is absurd.

            1. You’re getting two things mixed up.

              In my review of the trade, I outlined why the deal made sense. I pointed out the potential of the prospects, and that in the end, it may be a win for the Astros, but that the Phillies were going to reap more short term reward (the next 3 years), and that short term reward often outweighs what a prospect produces, because prospects are so risky.

              In my next post, I outlined why the Phillies strategy, with regard to prospects, makes sense based on the state of the franchise and the resources they have available.

              I never said that anyone was wrong. I said that you calling for Amaro’s head, and the notion that we were now considered a “laughingstock” around basebball was completely and utterly ridiculous, and I stand by both of those claims. You are free to disagree with me. Anyone is. You’ve taken a brash, condescending approach to disagreeing with my argument, and that’s your right, just don’t accept me to gladly take it and be happy with it.

              You never did defend your “laughingstock” comment, which to be honest, I found one of the funniest things since I started my site. There are 28 other fanbases in baseball who would love to be in our shoes. They aren’t laughing. They’re probably crying, especially the teams in our division that do not have the ability to compete with us on a level playing field.

            2. Well I have a somewhat different perspective on the exchange. That’s where your argument started. I disagreed with it, initially respectfully. In addition to what I still think were very strong substantive arguments as to the weakness of the trade, I initially made a couple of exaggerated comments in the heat of the moment, not directed at you, which you apparently took to heart. Then for some reason you apparently felt the need to dig your heals in to the extent of making less judicious, exaggerated claims of your own. And yes I reacted to some of those in what could be called a somewhat condescending manner, specifically with regard to your oft repeated reliance on 2/3 season of BABIP inflated OPS+.

              But answer me this, all condescension aside: what do you honestly project as Pence’s OPS+ (a) the remainder of the season, and (b) going forward over the next couple of seasons? I would suspect, from past posts of yours, that you would project significantly less than 130. That’s not being condescending, that is said with respect. If that is true, why keep going on about the 130+ OPS? Why not stick with the original, more judicious argument? Or the recent categorical statement about “always” trading a prospect (prospects?) for an above average major league regular?

            3. I expect that his OPS+ for the 2011 regular season will finish around 130, with 1 or 2 points on either side.

              As for my statement, there is a line to be drawn. Where is that line? I’m not arrogant enough to think I know what it is. But baseball has gone from one end of the spectrum to the other with regard to prospects in the last 15 years. Before, teams traded away their prospects without thinking. The Jeff Bagwell deal is certainly one of the big ones, and of course the 2002 Bart Colon deal, where Cleveland received Cliff Lee, Grady Sizemore, and Brandon Phillips was a big mistake. But since then, teams have moved in the other direction, holding on to even marginal non-elite prospects and many times regretting their decision.

              The Yankees, oddly enough, are even doing this now, declaring half of their farm system untouchable for even excellent players. They put a lot of faith in Joba and Phil Hughes, and so far, that looks questionable at best, especially with the way they completely mishandled Chamberlain. Now they are doing the same thing with Banuelos, Betances, and Jesus Montero. Will they be proven right? Maybe. But I think you really run the risk of having the asset lose its value.

              Lets take Cosart and Singleton as prime examples. You can look at their body of work, and neither guy has been dominant in the minors. Prior to this year, Cosart’s numbers were borderline dominant, but in small samples because hes been hurt a number of times since he was drafted. This year, his numbers are down in a pitching heavy league. This might be a fluke, and he might be just fine and blowing the doors off the place in AA next year. But what if he doesn’t? You only need to invest in a Baseball America subscription and look back through their list of Top 10 prospects by org to find tons of guys like Cosart who never even made it out of AAA.

              Singleton, as I’ve mentioned, is a much higher probability guy. But what are you projecting for him in the majors? I’m asking that seriously. Most people seem to say hes a high OB% guy with 25-30 HR power. Is that his absolute upside? Do you think he’ll reach that? As I noted with Brett Wallace, even the guys who are “high probability” guys fail. And they fail a lot.

              Prospects are almost exactly like stocks. Like stocks, they are constantly changing in value. An MLB team’s goal is to evaluate the players, figure out which ones will increase in value, figure out which ones have more potential to lose value, which ones they should keep and which ones they should trade.

              The Phillies have just traded Cosart and Singleton when both were considered Top 50 prospects. They got back an above average MLB regular who they have control over for 2.3 years, at a minimum. They have an expectation of getting value out of him for 2.3 years, in that his production will remain above what he makes in salary. If they sign him pre-arbitration, they will almost certainly get a team friendly deal which enhances their chance to get value. Singleton and Cosart are still theoretical assets, and remain as such until they reach the majors. But performing well in A ball is a long way away from producing at the major league level.

              So what is the formula? I don’t know. But I think the old adage that you need 3 prospects, because one will get hurt and the other will fail to live up to the hype is probably something close. The Phillies will give up 2 legit prospects now, plus a 6th inning reliever, plus another wildcard as the PTBNL. So there’s a good chance they’ll get at least something of value from that group. But what they’ll get is a mystery, because both prospects at the top of the deal are risky guys. As was pointed out before, Keith Law, who is one of the more respected guys around when it comes to prospects, pointed out both guys have great potential, but both guys are also very risky. Now, if you are asking whether including Trevor May would change my mind. Or Sebastian Valle. The answer is “probably”. But that didn’t happen.

              All prospects are risky. And from the Phillies perspective, cashing in those chips now instead of “letting it ride” is probably a better strategy. We’ll check back in 5 years and re-visit the debate.

            4. Well that’s a fair response and is IMO the kind of solid argument you were making at the start, and again IMO (not meant to be condescending) you went away from. I still disagree, partly because I think you’re still overvaluing Pence to a degree, partly because I think you are undervaluing Singleton to a degree (and maybe Cosart to s lesser extent).

              But the 130 OPS+ for the rest of the season prediction – sorry, I just think that’s high. And that probably explains a lot of my disagreement with you. Certain hitting stats normalize relatively quickly. Batting average – especially when driven by high BABIP – does not. And to the extent that his higher than normal OPS+ is driven mostly by that high BA/high BABIP, it is highly likely to regress. If it was driven by improved power or plate discipline, I’d feel somewhat differently (while still expecting some regression).

              I’d say maybe 120, and that may be generous. It will be interesting to see at the end of the season who is correct.

      2. PP, its honestly because Philadelphia has, as a city, always had an inferiority complex when it comes to the other big boys…add in the late 80s/1990s where we were constantly told Philly was a small market franchise and you begin to understand the psychosis for what it is.

        Its hard to believe this is all still real.

      3. I wonder if these same posters will admit to being wrong a few years from now. The Phils have created a brand in the fashion of the Red Sox nearly two decades ago. The seats are packed, the fans have become notorious for their knowledge of the game, and many MLB players love the idead of playing in Philly. I’ve been a diehard Phils fan since I knew what a baseball was. 30+ years certainly. How many times did we say that teh Phils should act like the big market city that the play in. Well, here it is. A big market team making moves like a big market team does. I say enjoy it, and good luck to Cosart and Singleton

        1. The most knowledgeable fans I ever sat with at a game were in Cleveland back in the early 2000s (2004 actually). This was when they started rebuilding…friendliest fans ever and they had a great knowledge of the game. Treated us very well despite our Phillies hats.

        2. Most people know the huge bucks the Yankees get media production but Boston is also a money cow. Only a few years ago the Phillies were on a radio station that you couldn’t
          get in King of Prussia. The real money is in expanding their media brand.

          1. YES (Yankee Enter. Serv.)…agree. However, in Phillies case….ComCast would need to buy the team.

            1. despite the small army of inf,s. drafted this year, and i know h. martinez is the next longoria to many of you, 3rd is next years position to be filled. the player is CHASE HEADLY. now complain about how it cant be done.

            2. ‘cant be done’ —pharm already depleted –will need pharmeucetical HGH just to get back to normal. What, don’t you have faith in Carlos Rivero?

  2. As someone who remember the phils roster being litered with guys like matt beech, sil capusano, mak leiter and the like I still am in shock every time the phils make a move like this. After living through the late 80’s and 90’s I never thought in a million years we would be in this position. All of these trades and still a solid farm system? An amazing ballpark? A contender every year? Not us, that was new york, boston or la. It is our time in the sun now and I do not see it setting for a long time. Wonderful article!

  3. I understand that the Phillies are going to have money to spend for the foreseeable future. But true star players are awful hard to come across in the open market, and they are appropriately priced if you do acuire. If you look at the Yankees and the Red Sox they both supplement their big-ticket acquisitions with real impact talent from the minors. The Red Sox would not be able to get comparable contributions to Ellsbury, Pedroia, Youk, Lester, etc., from free agents for the same price. Much the same as the Yankees with Gardner and Cano. You can’t build a team on just free agents and trade pieces. That surplus value you get from stars you develop can’t be replicated anywhere else and allows you to go out and make the type of moves the Phillies have been making. Chase Utley, for instance, continues to offer major surplus value to the franchise because of the reasonable extension he signed and his high level of productivity.

    However, the Phillies did a commendable job in identifying Dom Brown as their next big talent and holding him throughout the development process. If they infuse one regular or starting pitcher every few years into the core from their system they will be able to continue as they’ve done. Trading everyone from the minors is unsustainable, but not trading anyone is a small-market mindset. So far they’ve done a nice job of blending the two, which is what they’ll need to continue to do to be competitive in 2014 and beyond. It should also be noted that this year’s team has gotten some very cheap contributions from Worley, Brown, Bastardo, Stutes, Mayberry and Martinez, which is a positive sign going forward.

    1. “That surplus value you get from stars you develop can’t be replicated anywhere else and allows you to go out and make the type of moves the Phillies have been making.”

      Exactly correct.

      1. Seriously……..fire Amaro. Lets let it play out with his moves. IMO he is adequately blending the ‘surplus value’ and the acqusition of external talent.

      2. And yet, the Yankees offered Robinson Canoe TWICE in trades and those trade partners declined to take him.

        So it is more important to have lots of players in the minors to use in this fashion.

  4. That was very well written. The one thing you didn’t touch on in terms of becoming a large market team is that we have to hand out large contracts to players for the brand image that they bring in addition to the value on the field. The parallel already existing is Ryan Howard and Derek Jeter, we all agree that Howard is not worthy of the giant extension but the revenue he brings in as a Philly justifies it and he is part of the Philly image almost as much as the Phanatic to new casual fans

    1. You bring up a very interesting point about a star player’s brand value. Maybe this is just me, but if i had to pick one player who i think is seen as the ‘face’ of the Phillies it wouldn’t be Howard, it would be Utley. After him it’d be Halladay. I actually think Howard while maybe overvalued by the Phillies, is undervalued by the fans, and therefore expendable. Just my perspective.

      1. Chase Utley is a “serious fan” favorite, but how many commercials has he been in? How many MLB specials has he done? How many MVPs (that’ll thrust him even more into the limelight) has he won?
        I once saw a very convincing argument using adjusted stats for different periods, showing that Chase Utley-back in ’09-could possibly be one of the greatest-if not the greatest-2nd basemen of all time. But to the average fan, he isn’t the most known. Not about who is better, or more valuable just on the field.

        1. I think he’s plenty well known. He’s pretty much known around baseball as the 2nd or 3rd best second baseman out there.

    2. Howard also has the same agent as Derek Jeter… just to throw that out there since you made the comparison.

      I don’t agree with that he’s overpaid. I think all baseball players are overpaid… just some more than others.

  5. PP, excellent article on how differently big and small market teams view their farm systems and use them to improve. You did a great job identifying the Phillies revenue growth with CBP, hiring Pat Gillick to create a model Front Office(including mentorting RAJ) to change the owners mindset and getting quality players who are capable of winninfg a World Series.

  6. Let’s seperate long term/medium term. Long term I think you are mostly right – except that I am increasingly concerned that Amaro may disapate the club’s advantages. A poorly managed franchise can fail despite a high payroll (see the Cubs). I gave him the benefit of the doubt until now, even defending him – and he does have his strengths – but increasingly I’ve lost faith in him, with his weaknesses overwelming his strengths. Obviously we differ on that, but assuming I’m right about Amaro, it is a legitimate concern. Still, long term they should be okay.

    Medium term, not so much, though not primarily because of this trade. Briefly, you underestimate the problem of an aging roster, and overestimate the ease of filling in talent gaps through free agency and the trade market. I agee that prospects are only one part of the picture, but I have a hard time seeing how the team can avoid a decline in 2013-2015. This trade does make the situation worse, as Singleton and Cosart both could have been contributors in 2014-2015, and there are oportunity costs, both in terms of the prospects and the likely salary.

    1. Larry, I can’t disagree with you more as your last post flies in the face of reason. I guess you did not fully read PP article or used selective reading.

      1. Gee, how logical. I read his post, I just disagree about the medium term for the reasons stated – neither of which are addressed in the article. If I had more time, I could go on at greater length, but I think my second paragraph succinctly the identifies the two reasons why PP is overly optimistic about the medium term.

        Long term I mostly agree with him, with the caveat that too many management errors can dissapate those advantages. See the Mets and Cubs as exapmles of big market teams who managed to fail despite those types of advantages. I’m not predicting that for the Phillies, who do have some advantages over those teams (chiefly scouting and development resources), just saying that is is a risk factor to be considered.

        1. And again I’m NOT one of the people around here who scream every time a prospect is traded. I agree with the general tenor of the article, again with a few caveats. But Singleton and Cosart are arguably the best prospects the team has traded in the past decade – certainly the highest upsides – and for a guy who even the trade’s defenders admit is just a solid contributor, not a star.

          1. Kyle Drabek was rated more favorably than Cosart when traded, because there were fewer worries about his delivery, and he’d already had surgery and bounced back. Likewise, a lot of people were dismayed that Taylor was traded, especially as he was coming off a big season.

            Cosart and Singleton are great prospects. But that’s what they are…prospects. You have no idea how valuable they are going to become. No one does. Their value is unknown. It could be amazing, Hall of Fame value. Or it could be 4A filler/stuck in Indy Ball because of injuries value. You have no idea.

        2. I think the issue with your analysis is you are placing way too much certainty of value on two minor league prospects who haven’t played a day above A ball. Both guys are top 50 prospects right now, top 30 is debatable. But if you look over the course of time, especially the last 10 years, you’ll see plenty of highly touted prospects who performed very well before they got to AA, then hit the wall.

          The Phillies, as they have done over the last 4 years, are trading unknowns for known quantities. Again, Pence has a 132 OPS+ this year, and even if that is BABIP driven, he’s posted above average BABIP rates his entire career.

          Let me put it in non-baseball terms in a quick scenario. Say I gave you the following choice:

          1. You can have $5
          2. We can flip a coin. If you guess correctly, you win $10. If you guess incorrectly, you get nothing.

          The smart thing to do is take the $5 every single time. It requires zero risk on your part. If you take $5 every time, you wager zero of your own money and you always win. If you take the latter option, you have a 50% chance to get a 100% better return on the potential of $5. But you also have a 50% chance of getting absolutely nothing.

          Lets expand the scenario.

          1. You can have $5
          2. We can flip a coin. If you guess correctly, you win $10. If you guess incorrectly, you lose $5.

          Which option do you take now?

          The Phillies have essentially chosen option 1 every time. If they do this 5 times, they end up with $25. Instead, if they chose option 2 five times, they could have ended up with $50, if they’d won all 5 coin flips. If they won 3 of the 5 coin flips, they would have had $30 (in the first scenario), and in the second scenario, winning 3 of 5 flips means a net gain of $10.

          Prospects are the coin flip. Some of them turn in to stars and pay off. Most of them don’t become stars, and a big chunk of them never go on to post 4 straight seasons with an OPS+ of 110 or higher.

          Betting on all of your prospects and turning down trades for established, low risk MLB players is a way to either hit the jackpot or destroy your franchise’s chances of winning.

          1. Just a note, but the EV in scenario 1 is exactly the same. Your choice will be driven only by whether you are risk-loving or risk-averse, but there is no practical difference between the two in the long run.

            1. Right, you’re not risking any of your own money. Scenario 2 is closer to the model of a baseball trade, because prospects are assets, and assets have value that can either increase or decrease.

          2. I’m perfectly aware of the uncertainty factor. In Singleton’s case I think you may be over estimating it (Cosart OTOH is very high risk), but that’s a quibble and not our fundemental disagreement. The problem with your analysis IMO is that you underestimate the “expected value” of the prospects in question. Say Pence is the “sure thing” at around 8.5 WAR for 2 1/3 years (1.5 + 3.5 + 3.5). Or even 10, my earlier estimate, which was overly generous. There’s certainly no reason in his history to expect more than that. That’s the “sure thing” in your analysis. Certainly it is possible that Cosart & Singleton will be worth less than that. Unlikely IMO given Singelton’s presence in the equation, but possible. But IMO their expected value – that incorporates the uncertainly – in their cost controlled years is, I would estimate conservatively, is probably at least 15-20 WAR. And even taking into account discounting for future performance, and uncertainty, that’s a bad bargain. Especially considering salary issues, less of an issue for a big market team like the Phillies but still an issue.

            To look at it another way, you said eslewhere that I’d look silly if, down the road, neither Singelton or Cosart panned out. Maybe so – but worst case, assuming Pence is a little better than expectations & we get no value at all from Cosart & Singleton (very unlikely IMO), I’m down what, 10 wins? That’s a lot – though keep in mind we would be paying him near market price for those wins. But what’s the other side? We COULD see a situation where Cosart and Singleton are worth 30 plus wins during their cost controlled years, at less than market prices. That’s a pretty bad downside risk. Even if it is, I agee, uncertain. But if that happens, it will be the defenders of the trade looking pretty silly.

            1. So in other words, there is no scenario where your evaluation of the deal could be wrong. It must be nice to have that position in an argument.

              You’ve overreacted to this deal. You’ve said the following, in less than 24 hours:

              1. Our GM should be fired
              2. We are the laughingstock of baseball

              Despite your claims, just about every outlet has said the Phillies improved their team with Pence, and almost everyone has pointed out the riskiness of the prospects involved, including Keith Law, who is very well respected at what he does.

              This trade did not cripple the future of the franchise. It didn’t even put a dent in the future of the franchise. The Phillies motivation for doing this deal was to not only improve now, but to improve next year. The free agent crop of outfielders this winter is going to be awful. Now, the team’s focus will be on either re-signing Rollins or finding his replacement, and figuring out if its worth giving Madson big money. The lineup is set, the rotation will be set, and Amaro can fill in the bench and bullpen as needed.

            2. and just to add… Keith Law LOVES those two guys. He rated them higher than anybody else has… but even he said that Houston is taking a huge risk with these guys.

  7. PP, excellent article about how big market and small market teams view their farm teams and use them. I think the key moments of the Phillies rise is the building of CBP, the hiring and continued employment of Pat Gillick who changed the owners mindset and continuous additition of skilled players who can win the WS.

  8. The argument about the window closing would be true if Howard, Rollins, Utley, Ruiz, Hamels, Madson, etc were all young and making less than they are worth but as these guys grew, and their salaries grew, the Phils kept them and increased payroll. Some day when Howard and Utley and Rollins are gone, so will approx $45M in salary that can be spent on free agents. The key is to either develop players and/or select the right free agents.

  9. Here’s how I think about it. A contract for a major league player is an asset. The value of that asset is the discounted flow of production provided by that player minus the cost of the contract.

    A big-market team has a bigger payroll to work with. They can use that extra payroll either to make mistakes while maintaining an average level of winning, or to sustain a high level of winning.

    The Phillies are a big-market team, but they have made some mistakes. I thought the Raul contract was a mistake. I think the Howard contract is a mistake. I wasn’t crazy about the Polanco contract. And I think that this trade was a mistake (although not a huge one).

    We’re a big market team that can absorb mistakes, and so I don’t think we’re going to suck in a few years. But because of those mistakes we are not going to be as good as we might have been.

    Giving up more value than you get is a bad strategy no matter what your market size, and this trade is part of a worrying pattern under current management.

    That said, I am looking forward to seeing what this team can do this year. Go Phils!

    1. Jon……..if the above contracts are all mistakes, I assume you mean in in length and yearly compensation…..then RAJ’s reluctance to give Werth a three year contract versus the two year contact he signed in Dec 2008, was a correct decision?

  10. PP already said it but I will re-iterate it, is that this isn’t the same phillies franchise from 10 yrs ago. The phillies of old HAD to develop their own players due to the “small market” mentality that existed with the franchise ownership and management. Larry in all honesty we got lucky that Utley, Howard, Rollins, Hamels, Myers, Madsen, etc. came up within a 4-5 yr window and weren’t traded away for turk wendell and dennis cook. I want to win now, b/c we are living in the present not in 2014/2015. So what if our best minor league hitter and one of our best minor league pitchers was traded. Did yankee fans bitch and moan that the yankees did the same thing by trading prospects to build around the core guys they had in the late 90’s and 2000’s on the way to winning numerous titles, the answer btw is a big fat no. A couple examples if you want are Jeff Nelson and Tino Martinez for Russ Davis and Sterling Hitchcock, Dave Cone for Jason Jarvis, Mike Gordon, and Marty Jenson, and Paul Oneill for Roberto Kelly, tell me who won those deals? The redsox do the same thing now. Yes I know the yankees and sox also hand out lucrative free agent deals which usually results in losing draft picks. The name of the game is to win NOW not potentially in 2014/2015 hoping that these kids pan out. If you win now you build for your future as well the evidence is this team the last 4 yrs. After all the trades we made in the last 4 yrs our minor league system kept churning guys out. In 2 yrs , as history has shown us, our minor leagues will be a top 7 system again. But if they do win the world series this yr I am sure I will be seeing you on Broad St with the same big smile that everyone else has. you gotta enjoy the fact that we just screwed over the braves b/c they didn’t want to trade their top prospects and they are left looking in the scrap bin or getting a platoon player. Do you remember the stretch between 1984-20006? I sure as hell do and I don’t ever want to ever be there again. Enjoy the ride man.

    1. Ditto sibs…….incidentally the Braves did not want to give up pitcher Mike Minor who the Astros coveted. Interesting to see how that turns out for them.

  11. The reality is that we will be unable to truly validate this trade for another few years. The same ones who think we overpaid are generally the same ones who overvalued Cosart in the first place. This trade wasn’t about who received the most value in return, it was about timing. The Phils had to make a move and as much as I love Singleton, I love Championships even more. Good job RAJ!

  12. I love the characterization of the Phillies as a “brand.”

    It explains the Howard contract and many other things. Famous players mean more money for the organization… people in Atlanta buying Phillies merchandise, fans coming to the ballpark, not staying home even when they own tickets. I read an estimation that every fan at the park is worth $50. As long as the Phillies get 40,000 + per night they get $2,000,000 in revenue outside of ticket sales. Times 80 this means they pay for their payroll just on inside ballpark participation
    (and yes, I am not factoring costs of goods sold, labor, etc…) but compare that to an organization that averages 20,000 per night – well you must do everything you can to keep that engine running now, today and not worry about a prospect who MAY be of value to the team in 2014.

    Hunter Pence is a baseball decision and a business decision.

  13. Something that hasn’t been mentioned, and I think it has something to do with recent unexpected signings like Cosart, Brown, Colvin and Greene, is that draftees might be more willing to sign with teams like the Phillies, Yankees and Red Sox because of their success at the ML level.

    Could you imagine the JD Drew situation happening now?

    Also, by virtue of not sucking, you don’t have to sink $5 mil on a top 5 player and can use the money to effectively draft and sign guys with similar talent in the later rounds. This strategy has paid huge dividends in the past 4-5 years

  14. I’m going to enjoy watching Hunter Pence in a Phillies uniform.

    That said, if we’re going to act like a big market team then we need to spend 7-10 million between the draft and LA. We need to stock the farm either for future trades or because we need a few cost controlled home grown guys. If we don’t do that, the window will close. Its not a sustainable model to just bring in high priced FA. If we keep spending on young talent we can continue to make trades and even bring a guy or two up like we have this year. Open up that checkbook RAJ!!!!

  15. PP,

    Good insight about big v small market, and the establishment of a “brand” that can withstand a (short) down period.

    Let me provide a bit of a counterpoint.

    I didn’t like this trade. Here’s why–I think the Phils, who are pretty blind to advanced scouts, dramatically mis-evaluated Hunter Pence. Pence is a league average OF over his last three years, and he’s having a year this year where he’s around 20% better than league average. His cquisition slows down the development of Brown, takes ABs away from Mayberry (making him likely less effective), and, in sort, probably doesn’t help the Phils much this year.

    In 2012/13. Pence replaces Ibañéz, which is definitely an upgrade. However, this off-seaon, if the Pence trade had not been made, you could have spent the $10 million he’s going to get on an equal better FA replacement (league average OFs are not that hard to find), you’d still have Singleton and Cosart et. al., and the only cost would have been whatever advantage Pence provides in 2011. And that advantage, as I’ve posted elsewhere, works out to about 3 runs offensively over Brown/Mayberry the way they have been used. So, arguing Pence’s benefits beyond this year is irrelevant, since those advantages were attainable without the trade, and this year there is basically no advantage. We just spent our best assets for basically nothing.

    In general, I don’t agree with your idea that this process is sustainable, either, unless we continue to produce exceptional young talent. When you sign a free agent (or trade for players with established value), the player is generally, at the youngest, around 28 o 29 years old. You’re buying into a declining market, since most players become less effective after reaching age 27, and you’re paying for their previous peak performance in dollars, and in players when you trade for them. Even if you have a significant payroll advantage, if you’re paying for wins at 20-30 percent in excess of their true value, the impact of your 20-30% higher payroll is blunted. Like in any business, you have to leverage your advantages, not fritter them away.

    So, if you’re the Phils, you sign a lot of your draftees, since scouting and development of amateur players is an advantage, and you pull off trades like the Halladay and Lee (first time) trades, where you acquire players who are so far above MLB average that even their declining production is worth your expenditure in oney and talent. You don’t let hamstring your amateur signing budget (as Amaro did in 2009 and 2010) and you don’t trade for and pay declining league average players. Enough of those “mistakes, and you’re the Mets or the Cubs. Success is NOT inevitable in Philly. Maybe some of Ruben’s smugness has rubbed off on you… 🙂

    JMHO.

    1. Typo above:

      “Here’s why–I think the Phils, who are pretty blind to advanced scouts, dramatically”

      should be

      “Here’s why–I think the Phils, who are pretty blind to advanced stats, dramatically”

  16. I’m re-posting from above, since I accidentally put the post in the wrong place, and I fixed typos.

    Feel free to delete the above.

    “PP,

    Good insight about big v small market, and the establishment of a “brand” that can withstand a (short) down period.

    Let me provide a bit of a counterpoint.

    I didn’t like this trade. Here’s why–I think the Phils, who are pretty blind to advanced statistics, dramatically mis-evaluated Hunter Pence. Pence is a league average OF over his last three years, and he’s having a year this year where he’s around 20% better than league average. His acquisition slows down the development of Brown, takes ABs away from Mayberry (making him likely less effective), and, in short, probably doesn’t help the Phils much this year.

    In 2012/13. Pence replaces Ibañéz, which is definitely an upgrade. However, this off-seaon, if the Pence trade had not been made, you could have spent the $10 million he’s going to get on an equal better FA replacement (league average OFs are not that hard to find), you’d still have Singleton and Cosart et. al., and the only cost would have been whatever advantage Pence provides in 2011. And that advantage, as I’ve posted elsewhere, works out to about 3 runs offensively over Brown/Mayberry the way they have been used. So, arguing Pence’s benefits beyond this year is irrelevant, since those advantages were attainable without the trade, and this year there is basically no advantage. We just spent our best assets for basically nothing.

    In general, I don’t agree with your idea that this process is sustainable, either, unless we continue to produce exceptional young talent. When you sign a free agent (or trade for players with established value), the player is generally, at the youngest, around 28 o 29 years old. You’re buying into a declining market, since most players become less effective after reaching age 27, and you’re paying for their previous peak performance in dollars, and in players when you trade for them. Even if you have a significant payroll advantage, if you’re paying for wins at 20-30 percent in excess of their true value, the impact of your 20-30% higher payroll is blunted. Like in any business, you have to leverage your advantages, not fritter them away.

    So, if you’re the Phils, you sign a lot of your draftees, since scouting and development of amateur players is an advantage, and you pull off trades like the Halladay and Lee (first time) trades, where you acquire players who are so far above MLB average that even their declining production is worth your expenditure in money and talent. You don’t hamstring your amateur signing budget (as Amaro did in 2009 and 2010) and you don’t trade for and pay declining league-average players. Enough of those “mistakes, and you’re the Mets or the Cubs. Success is NOT inevitable in Philly. Maybe some of Ruben’s smugness has rubbed off on you… 🙂

    JMHO.”

    1. So you’re already calling this trade a mistake? A little soon for that I think. And you used mistakes, what other trades would you call a mistake.

  17. PP’s assessment is all grounded on an assumption — the basic nature of the Phillies franchise has changed and they will always be a big money team. I think it more accurate to say this is the same franchise, but with a new stadium, which has greatly increased revenue. This large increase in revenue isn’t automatically sustainable long term. It depends upon continuing to win. Recent Phillies history shows that the fan base and revenue can drop drastically as soon as the product on the field turns south. That happened in 1994, when injuries and an aging core led to losing, which led to lost fans and revenue, which led to a lower budget, which led to more losing and even less revenue, in a death spiral, from which the team did not recover, until a new stadium was at hand. Part of the reason for that death spiral was the drag of the large contracts to Dykstra and Daulton, whose performance declined sharply. This could easily happen with Howard toward the end of his contract, when he’s earning $25 mill/season. Utley has shown durability issues. When Utley is extended we will have a lot of money committed to each of our big 3 starters. An unexpected injury to an expensive pitcher is a dark cloud that is always on the horizon. That’s just the nature of pitchers. Another factor that prevented the Phillies management from halting the death spiral in the late 1990s was that Giles had stripped the farm, killed the Latin American pipeline, and reduced the draft budget. Just as the farm was most needed to rebuild the team and establish a new core, it was hobbled. That extended the slide. Is the farm being raided too much today? Are the bonus $ budgetted to restock it adequate? We could be coming up on a problem on the farm once again, when we will need it most as the current core ages out.

    It’s possible that RA can extend the winning beyond the next couple season, but it seems far from a sure thing.

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