From an outsiders perspective it would seem as though the Phillies are slowly morphing into something different. That something different would be the Yankees, a team that likes to throw its weight around using American dollars. As the new powerhouse of the National League, the Phillies are resembling the rivals to the northeast. But let’s not get carried away – anyone who thinks the Phils are even within an arms length of the Yankees are sorely mistaken.
First off, the Phillies have built this brick by brick – they’ve used solid scouting and a stocked farm system to accomplish their goal of a World Championship while becoming a threat to win more every year. By extending their talent to long-term contracts at the right time, they’ve been able to keep a relatively modest payroll all the while.
The list of Phillies that were brought up – and not bought up – are as follows: Utley, Howard, Rollins, Ruiz, Madson, Hamels, Kendrick. Each have had their hand in the reformation of the Phillies as a legitimate contender year after year.
On the other side, the Yankees have attempted to buy their way into World Championships, and who can blame them? It’s a system that works in their favor – they should be allowed to spend all the money they want. Major League Baseball is built on a structure of revenue sharing, meaning the top teams filter down big money to the teams that don’t make as much. The Yankees are an exceptional franchise and that has benefitted the pockets of many lesser teams and their owners. So spending over $200 million every season is fine.
Just don’t say the Phillies do business the same way because they were able to land Cliff Lee.
Lee, like Roy Halladay and, to an extent, Roy Oswalt before him, took less money to play in a place he knew was a baseball hotbed. Halladay chose to take a shorter term deal and Oswalt re-worked some conditions in his contract to win here. Lee, apparently, has done the same. Instead of settling for a six-year deal worth a reported $137 million with a seventh-year option, Lee felt a connection with Philadelphia and will take a reported $120 million over five years with a sixth-year option. Not chump change by any means, but still a large sum left on the proverbial table.
Add up the numbers and you’ll see that the Phillies wrangled Cliff Lee AND Roy Halladay for roughly $180 million. The Yankees paid CC Sabathia by himself $161 million. Two is better than one.
New York, while able to entice him with riches and the thought of playing in the biggest market, could not offer Cliff Lee peace of mind. Texas fell short as well in courting the prized piece of the free agent market. As an aside, it’s pretty hilarious to see how up in arms Yankees fans are about losing Lee. Over the past 36 hours, there’s been a lot of “we didn’t want him anyway” talk. Sore losers, indeed.
So before you listen to the outsiders rip the Phillies for being like the evil empire – a team that overpays for talented players as often as person brushes their teeth – realize this club has put itself in this position by making noble maneuvers.