Stark: The Next Era of Phillies Baseball is Coming

The championship era could be coming to a close.

On Wednesday afternoon Senior writer, Jayson Stark, joined 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli and the two had what I believe to be the preeminent conversation regarding the Phillies recent history and wondered how fans would handle the end of this great era:

Stark: “The next era is coming, how soon it arrives is up to these guys (Rollins, Howard, etc).”
Missanelli: “How will the fans react to an era of lower proportions than what we’ve been through?”
Stark: “…I can’t tell you where this is leading. There’s still a lot of affection for this team, but when you have a generation of guys who won, who knew how to win, who just captured the hearts of the fan base, the next generation is not going to be the same. They’ve traded away too many guys, and surrendered too many picks to have that group-in-waiting. And so uness they make a bunch of tremendous trades, there is going to be a period of watching the Nationals and Braves do their thing. And the Mets have actually built a nice little foundation too. You won’t see it this year, but its coming.”
Missanelli: “Here’s the question then, did the Phillies do it wrong?”
Stark: “If I had asked you five years ago – they’re going to win one World Series, and then they’re going to do whatever it takes to try to win one or two or three more, wouldn’t you have advised them to do that?”
Missanelli: “Yes!”
Stark: “And that’s what they did. I’ve asked other General Managers about this all the time, Mike. And they say this is what you’re supposed to do. You don’t get that many opportunities with a team like this and a group like this, and so you max-out, and you try to win. They won a World Series; they got back to a second World Series; the year after that they had the best team in baseball and just didn’t win in October because they had the wrong matchup. Then they faced the Cardinals- another bad matchup. They had a chance to win two or three or four, it’s hard to win those. If you keep making those trades and you keep giving up those choices, somebody drops the bill in the mail, and the bill is arriving now. This is the price they are paying.”

Immediately following the triumphant 2008 season it was almost unfathomable to think that the Phillies wouldn’t win at least one more World Series in the years ahead. The majority of the team was still under contract, including past MVP’s Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. We had blossoming stars in Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, and Carlos Ruiz, and once they started making trades for Cy Young Award winners like Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, it was time to sit back and watch our home team collect one World Series trophy after another. Or at least that was the plan.

Regardless of how the upcoming season turns out, I know that these have been the greatest years of Phillies baseball that I will ever see. Whatever happens with the expiring contracts of Halladay, Ruiz, and Utley, I promise to move forward as a fan with whichever players take the field. I vow to root for the name of the front of the jersey, regardless of the name on the back. I wish for nothing more than to see another string of NL East titles, and a World Series parade, but even if that doesn’t happen, I will always look back fondly and give the Phillies organization credit for going all-in to chase that elusive 3rd World Series crown.

Lets all be sure to enjoy this season and whatever fun it brings, because there’s a chance this great ride could be coming to an end in the not-too-distant future.



  1. Andrew

    March 9, 2013 at 8:15 am

    The Howard contract and Pence trade are still awful.

  2. Peter Michael

    March 9, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Nice article. I find it amazing that our fan base here in Philly would be positive enough to believe it “was almost unfathomable to think that the Phillies wouldn’t win at least one more World Series in the years ahead”. I mean this is Philadelphia — isn’t it? I suppose that makes the point of how good this era of Phillies’ baseball truly was.

    If the Phils are out of it before the trade deadline then a couple of trades are in order. Getting rid of a few high payroll veterans for prospects will restock the farm system. The key is to get the best prospects and, if they do, then all will be well for the Phillies future — it’s not all too gloomy if this is the way it works out.

    Also we learned that the Phillies’ ownership is willing to spend like a big market team if the opportunity is ripe. I realize that payroll and spending was an issue before this core and it surprised a lot of people when they made deals for Lee and Halladay. Push comes to shove and this group of owners have come through. Some teams in other smaller markets don’t have the same options to open the bank.

    Overall, I like change — no reason for me to be upset and cling to the past.

  3. Chuck A.

    March 9, 2013 at 8:58 am

    I could pick apart a lot of the decisions that were made since 2008 but what’s the point. They did what they had to do to go “all in” and I’m not complaining. I grew up watching a sh__ty Phillies team, then enjoyed the late 70s-early 80s teams. Of course, they sucked after that, had a magical season in ’93 and then sucked again before this latest chapter.

    Point I’m trying to make is that it’s cyclical …there will be ebbs and flows in the success/failure of a team. The difference here is that before these last 10 years or so this team acted like a small market team, largely because it was. But the building of CBP, the Thome signing in the early 2000s…those things signaled a change in the way this team viewed itself. They are now a big market team and really have no reason to go back to being small. They’ve seen and felt that success and don’t want to go back. Yes, there will probably be lean years where we are watching other teams in our division (we already are). But, with the right mix of free
    agent signings, trades, developing new young players those lean years hopefully won’t last as long.

    • ARc

      March 9, 2013 at 5:47 pm

      A big market team in this division should never have to play 2nd fiddle.

  4. Bob D

    March 9, 2013 at 9:41 am

    Rollins and Halladay are a bit older, but these other guys who are 30-35 still have life in them. Don’t be surprised to see Howard have a big year. With Halladay, Utley and Ruiz all in contract years – I’d say its likely 2 will return next year.

  5. CS

    March 9, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Mike Missanelli is a fraud, and the worst show on 97.5 “football and lebron james” radio.

    • Chuck A.

      March 9, 2013 at 10:17 am

      What does that comment have to do with Jayson Stark’s analysis?

  6. Ken Bland

    March 9, 2013 at 10:33 am


    • Lefty

      March 9, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      Looks like It worked, – I guess.

  7. Lefty

    March 9, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    It has long been my opinion that this could have been handled better, and the length of this “window” could have been made to last longer. But I don’t really have enough information to make that assumption anything more than personal conjecture. I wasn’t in on the meetings, I don’t know how much pressure the FO was under to sign certain people, or not sign them. I don’t know what went on in trade discussions that made them pull some triggers and not others. It’s my opinion that none of us do. It’s always easier to call the shots from the sideline when not in the heat of battle.

    I will say this though, I really like the way the team showed restraint this offseason. I think all of the free agents were way overvalued. Guys like Josh Hamilton would have brought plenty of excitement, but at what cost financially and otherwise? I think what the Braves paid for the Upton brothers will turn out to be an awful mistake in players traded and contracts given.

    The Phils, just like the Yankees, seem to now realize that they have to pull back some in order to expect to be able to do business profitably from here on out. I’m delighted they did not give up the 16th pick, and I think that was the first step toward managing this franchise the right way to ensure a better future. I’m with Chuck A on this, we will see a drop off, but not a long one like those we’ve endured in the past.

    I still wish they would employ analytics departments like many other teams, but maybe that will come soon too.

    • ARc

      March 9, 2013 at 5:49 pm

      I was with you until the second paragraph. Then you got small town stupid.

      • Lefty

        March 9, 2013 at 6:50 pm

        I wasn’t aware that I was here to please you.

      • Chuck A.

        March 10, 2013 at 12:01 pm

        C’mon Lefty… you should know better.

        In regards to that second paragraph… I was for Hamilton….but NOT at the price he ended up getting. And the Upton brothers don’t impress me for the price either. I think both scenarios will come back to bite these teams in the long run.

  8. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    March 9, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    The universe is built on cycles and patterns. They only variable is how long each is. Let’s up our upside is a little longer than we thought!

    • Ken Bland

      March 9, 2013 at 5:27 pm

      “The universe is built on cycles and patterns.”

      Didn’t agree with similar words from Chuck A above, and don’t agree here.

      The universe is built on the actions of those that get out of bed every day and say if you think you can, you will. If you think you can’t you won’t.

      Every day is about angling to improve the club, which is entirely possible. Any fool who takes a first step in rationalizing when the sun’ll come up tomorrow marches to a dysfynctional beat.

      So I’d say your quote is articulate, and experienced in smarts. But you’ll please pardon me if I say the hell with that as lacking in grasping the task at hand and going at it with gusto.



      • ARc

        March 9, 2013 at 5:52 pm

        Lincoln couldn’t have said it any better!!!
        I really detest the ” life in the hands of fate attitude”.
        Years from now, well be able to say Amaro made some huge misjudgments.

      • ARc

        March 9, 2013 at 5:54 pm

        Again, my sentiments exactly without all the flattery.

      • "Big Ed" Delahanty

        March 9, 2013 at 8:32 pm

        I see your point, but what if all those positive actions were us trying to assert some logic on our inability to understand the perfect logical randomness of the universe. Sorry to go all absurdist existentialist there, but I’ve been reading a lot of Camus and Borges lately. However, I’m all in with whatever action, thought, or stroke of luck that will bring us another world series!

      • G7

        March 9, 2013 at 8:50 pm

        Amaro has done what he is suppose to do..try to win championships.

      • George

        March 10, 2013 at 10:45 am

        “If you think you can you will.” Tell that one to the honor student who’s just been run over by a truck. Tell it to the body-builder who’s just been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Tell it to the guy whose bank account has been emptied by a computer hacker.

        Tell it to the ballplayer who’s just ruptured a tendon or tweaked a lat.

        The universe, I’m afraid, is also built in large part by chance.

  9. Pete

    March 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    The important thing is – this core group DID win it all. Period. Anything beyond that would have been gravy. We all supported the trades, contracts, etc. when they were made, so why second-guess now? If the curtain really is closing, then I stand and give them a standing ovation. There is no reason to think the Phils will sink into a long-term abyss. They can afford a higher payroll than 25 other teams. Who knows what will happen, but right now the Phils have just as much chance to be hugely successful in, say, 2016 than anybody else.

  10. William Rennick

    March 9, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Is there a bus trip to Washington this season?

  11. The Original Chuck P

    March 9, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    Nice commentary… I agree with most of this. The era is about to end. This is probably the last year we have this group together and it has been the greatest era in Phils history. That’s why I’m more sentimental and forgiving than most. I was at game 5 in 2008 (both nights). I was there when they won the first of what would be 5 NLE titles. This team has given me so much… Lifelong memories and enjoyment. I root for them and believe because they’ve earned that from me. And the management has cultivated a new mindset- that we are winners and players in the big money pool. Because of that, the stadium is always filled, Phillies spring training is better attended than any other and it’s why I believe there won’t be a layover like Stark suggests. We will re-tool. It might not be as plentiful down the road but I trust that no matter what if we are in contention at the trade deadline, we will add the pieces necessary to contend and it’s about who is hot in September and who makes those key moves.

  12. Tom

    March 9, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    This organization has turned the corner, and at this point there is no going back! Free agents like Michael Young want to be in Philadelphia, and there are some exciting prospects in the farm system like Cody Asche, Tommy Joseph, and the young arms! With an ever growing fan base, Citizen’s Bank Park, and the end of the contract with Comcast approaching, there’s no reason why this team should not be able to compete every year like the Yankees in the AL. As long as they keep signing reasonably priced free agents and developing the young arms, the eventual retirement of players like Rollins, Utley, & Howard will transition smoothly into the next generation! It doesn’t hurt that they have a Hall of Famer waiting in the wings to become the next Manager once Cholly steps down!!

    • Ken Bland

      March 9, 2013 at 5:03 pm

      That’s a good post, Tom. I’m not into funerals for the living, and respect those that don’t try to record history before it happens, particularly with an apprehensive viewpoint.

  13. Sharon

    March 9, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    I have been a Phillies fan all my life and will continue to root for them regardless of who is playing for them. I grew up in Philly and have always rooted for the hometown team even since I moved out of Philly.

  14. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    March 9, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    I see your point, but what if all those positive actions were us trying to assert some logic on our inability to understand the perfect logical randomness of the universe. Sorry to go all absurdist existentialist there, but I’ve been reading a lot of Camus and Borges lately. However, I’m all in with whatever action, thought, or stroke of luck that will bring us another world series!

    • Ken Bland

      March 10, 2013 at 11:01 am

      If you’re talking about assessing the past, sure, history in many fields of endeavor shows many examples of that. I’m talking about looking ahead. The one thing that matters is that revenues have to stay large. That happens, there’s no point in thinking negatively.

  15. Midwestphillyphan

    March 9, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    To say that this is the final year of an “era” is crazy. Rollins ain’t retiring, chase aint retiring and neither is Howard. And halladay will prob retire a Philly

    • Ryne Duren

      March 10, 2013 at 12:20 am

      all i have to say is. as far as i am concerned i have my doubts because of all the question marks the phils have, but i still believe the window is open for another run or possibly two before it really ends. and as some have said earlier they’re not a small market team anymore and if they have a real legit shot they’ll go for it. if they flounder? well then i can see the trades come. to improve for next year.

    • Ken Bland

      March 10, 2013 at 10:58 am

      Per your Chase isn’t retiring comment, I’m not looking to change the subject, and there are many, many variables to unfold in the next months as conversations concentrate on the present and very near term (2 weeks, 1 day, but who’s counting). But since you mentioned Utley, about a week ago, I came up with a self assigned project of trying to come up with a good quality guess on how long and how much the Phils, if at all, should offer Chase to continue here after his contract expires at season’s end. This is just part of the process, but I gave casual looks to a number of second basemen, and what age father time started taking their mother nature away. As I said, this is just one part of the process, and each case is different, as the times and conditions are, but here are the 2B I looked at, and you’ll notice a lot of 34 year old declines for 2nd basemen.

      I’m sure the site will overkill the subject at a more topical time, but since I’m working on it now, here are the conclusions I drew on the declines of a number of second sackers. Great as he was, effective as he’s been as a part-timer the last 2 years (less so, but still good), fact is, he’s 34.

      Bill Mazeroski was shot by age 32 as a full-time player. He contributed defensively on a scaled down playing schedule until age 35.

      Joe Morgan actually remained an effective player up through his final year, at age 40. But you have to look deeper at the numbers to see that. Still excellent OBPs carrtied him through lesser power years atarting at age 34. Not like his early years, but Joe kept stealing bases up to age 40. In retrospect, had he signed a 5 year deal after his age 34season for “reasonable” money, it wouldn’t have been a poor investment.

      Charlie Gehringer, a relative ironman in his outstanding caereer palyed 20-30 fewer games in his age 36 and 37 seasons, but still put up good numbers. He was pretty shot by age 38.

      Ted Sizemore was shit by age 34. Not anywhere near the top of the class except for 1 earlt in his career very good year.

      Ryne Sandberg remained an excellent layer through his age 33 season. His age 36 season, after a year layoff really wasn’t too bad by human standards, but despite 25 homers, an OPS of .716, and OBP of .316 from a .244 BA were not outstanding.

      Red Schoendiest was a quality regular through age 34. He was a sporadically good part time contributor for another 4 years, but it was definitely sporadic. Ab Veteran’s Committe Hall entry, if somehow Chase has a strong 3 years or so the rest ofthe way, Schoendiest’s resume will be a nice barometer to measure Chase against as a Hall candidate, but that still will not have everyone running tio the favorable side.

      Frankie Frisch remained a consitent player through age 36, although that last year saw a big drop in games played, down to 103. Frisch was never a power hitter, so there was no detectable age to see where power dropped.

      Jeff Kent remained an effective, plus player through his age 40, and final season. Through his age 37 season he was a bona fide all star.

      Lou Whitaker actually had pretty solid age 37 and 38 seasons, but they were in 92 and 84 games respectively.

      Steve Sax was shot as an offensive player by age 31.

      Roberto Alomar’s last effective year was at age 35, and effective is largely measured by playing 140 games.

      Davey Johnson had his last effective full time year as a 2nd baseman at age 31. He then played in Japan for 2 years, but by the time he came back for his age 34 season, spent with the Phils, he was a valuble utility guy.

      Another second baseman, Tommy Herr had what could be called an acceptable age 34 season, but his next year was bad, and his last in The Show. He hit .209 overall, and that included some degree of resurrection after going to the Giants for the stretch after hitting .194 for the Mets in 70 games (.328 OBP, though).

      Nellie Fox was more or less competent through age 35, although the numbers suggest he started losing his range a year before that.

      Tony Lazzari dropped off the face of the earth after his age 33 season.

      Manny Trillo was dealt by the Phils in the Hayes trade after his age 32 season, and that was well timed. He had 1 decent batting average of .294 in an Indian summer season at age 36. It looks like he still carried his weight defensively as late as age 34.

      Dave Cash was age 30 when Dick Williams turned that Montreal gig over to Rodney Scott.

      • Lefty

        March 10, 2013 at 12:08 pm

        “and what age father time started taking their mother nature away”.

        Nice play on words and a lot of good research, nice job.

      • Chuck A.

        March 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm

        I scanned over it because it was so long but I guess now I should go back and read the entire thing.

      • Chuck A.

        March 10, 2013 at 12:31 pm

        And I just did and it’s an impressive study indeed. Is the writing on the wall for Chase Utley as a Phillie?? Horrors at the thought of Mr. Golden Boy not being in red pinstripes for the rest of his career. Just WHAT will the female segment of the fan base do??!!

        In all seriousness, I’m rooting for him to have one of those incredible Comeback Player of the Year seasons and making it very hard to the front office to do anything but bring him back. That’s my heart talking there. My head is saying other things.

      • schmenkman

        March 10, 2013 at 1:53 pm

        My heart and head both agree with your heart Chuck.

        If he can be one of the more valuable players at his position playing 80-100 games as he has been the last two years, I’m hopeful that he can remain valuable even with some decline, if he can manage to stay on the field for 130+ games.

      • schmenkman

        March 10, 2013 at 2:03 pm

        “one of the more valuable” or in other words, one of the more productive, at his position.

  16. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    March 10, 2013 at 9:07 am

    Sorry fellas, I have no idea why my long comment posted twice. Damn technology.

  17. Malcolm

    March 10, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    I believe many of the reporters and fans still believe this to be a small market team. Spending is always near the cap and besides Howards deal we don’t have a bad contract on the books. Yes the Pence deal looks bad right now. Of course at some point so did the Lee deals and some people thought we gave up to much for Halladay. Next year we have Halladay, Utley and Ruiz coming off the books. All can be replaced by guys already here. Next year should see guys like Morgan, Asche, Joseph and maybe Biddle starting there major league careers. Add that with a potential D Brown, Revere, Hamels add a FA and this team can be a contender again. I think we are past the years of last place teams and rebuilding. The Phillies don’t rebuild they just retool.

  18. HJ

    March 11, 2013 at 9:03 am

    Couldnt agree more. The team went all out and soon well have to “Pay the bill”. Players age, injure, and burn out. Its the way the game goes.

    …On a side note I heard there’s a pitcher in the minors with a mean sinker but he only plays in jeans. Any truth to these rumors?

    • George

      March 11, 2013 at 2:51 pm

      All the leagues I know of have rules about uniforms, so I doubt there’s any truth to the guy with that mean sinker unless he wears the jeans somewhere between his baseball suit and his birthday suit.

      • HJ

        March 12, 2013 at 9:46 pm

        where are these rules stated?

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