Phillies Can Learn A Lot From Postseason – Phillies Nation

Phillies Can Learn A Lot From Postseason

“It all starts at the top…with the front office.” – Adam Wainwright.

Following his complete game, NLDS Game 5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, Wainwright said those words when asked about how the St. Louis Cardinals continue to churn out winning season after winning season, playoff win after playoff win. And as soon as he said it, it made the Phillies decline stand out so much more.

Not taking a shot at the Phillies front office, but Ruben Amaro Jr. and co. have done things much differently than the John Mozeliak’s, Billy Beane’s, and Andrew Friedman’s of the world. The Cardinals organization understands its payroll limitations. Hell, we all saw the movie about Beane’s inability to spend anything at all, even on clubhouse soda. Friedman’s Rays have been snakebitten in the playoffs recently, but 90 wins in five of the last six seasons is still incredible.

How are they doing it? Patience. Scouting. Luck? They allow their young prospects to blossom, then bring them up at the right time. They certainly don’t make rash decisions. Their baseball operations departments are second to none; how do you think the Sean Doolittle’s of the world keep finding their way out of the A’s organization? And luck plays a role as well – it’s hard to strike gold time and time again and a little bit of luck goes into that.

What’s also apparent is a plan. The Red Sox, A’s, and Cardinals load up on guys that get on base and rarely make bad outs. The Pirates built their hopes and dreams around Andrew McCutchen and a stable of young arms. Evan Longoria and David Price are the cornerstones of the Rays.

The Phillies no longer seem to have that same type of a plan. They’re now wallowing in declining, aging veterans with larger contracts. They do have Lee/Hamels to fall back on, but outside of that solid 1-2 punch, what is

So when Adam Wainwright makes those comments, it certainly stands out. The Phillies need to tighten up their scouting. They need to have a little patience. And they need to hope for some luck. But they also need a solid plan moving forward.



  1. Andrew

    October 10, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    It absolutely starts at the top, which is why I don’t think this organization will contend again until Amaro is replaced and the scouting department is overhauled. The Cardinal’s draft position hasn’t been significantly better than the Phillies over the past decade, yet they are continually drafting and developing far superior talent. Just about every season they are promoting players who end up making significant contributions. You never see them turning to a Michael Martinez or a Roger Bernadina when they have an injury at the big league level.

    • Lloyd

      October 10, 2013 at 1:27 pm

      Criticizing the Phillies is fine, but to throw in the Pirate comment about building around McCutchen is not very bright. I think maybe the Phils have done a little better than the Pirates over the last say 35 years or so.

      • Keith

        October 10, 2013 at 1:58 pm

        Lloyd, if you said the last 25 years, you might have a point. But going back 35 years picks up the Stargell years where both teams are comparable. I think you also forget the 1993 Phillies were the oddity. The teams before and after that season were bad. In reality, the two teams were comparable until the Phillies went on their run of division championships.

        But this article is about the future. The future of the Pirates is bright. They have a budding superstar in McCutchen. They have some very good young pitching. They are building their bullpen around Jason Grilli, who the Phillies never brought up from Lehigh Valley. The Phillies are old and getting older. Rollins is 34. Utley and Lee are 35. Howard will be 34 next season. There are some prospects but most are a year or two away. I don’t see the Phillies contending for a few years. No matter how much I would hate it, the Phillies probably should trade Lee, but I don’t want Amaro doing it. He will get fleeced again.

      • schmenkman

        October 10, 2013 at 2:44 pm

        Of course, Jason Grilli is 36 (turns 37 next month), and when the Phils released him in July 2011, he had pitched 356 innings with a 4.74 ERA and 1.478 WHIP. He had last pitched in the majors in 2009, and in the previous years his K/9 had climbed from the 5-range to 9.7 in 2009, but so had his walks — from ~3.5, to 5.3 in 2009. Granted, he was pitching well in LV at the time (11.8 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 in 32+ innings), but he was one of 6 pitches on the LV staff with K rates over 11, and he was 34.

        But overall, I agrree, the Pirates future does look brighter. One advantage the Phillies have is they can spend to partly close the gap until those younger prospects are ready. I expect them to make enough moves to win more than they lose next year.

      • George

        October 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm

        Grilli is an example of how luck, as indicated in the article, can certainly figure in. So, too, would be the performance the Cardinals got one year from the chronically injured Lance Berkman, or the one the A’s got from the ancient Bartolo Colon.

        I’m not saying that a good plan doesn’t figure in. I will say, though, that the Phils did have a plan which gained them 5 straight division titles, 2 NL pennants, and a World Championship. It’s just no longer viable due to a lack of good draft picks and a lack of good health, and a lack of good luck, so the original plan now needs to change.

      • Lloyd

        October 11, 2013 at 4:55 am

        Keith. I specifically went back 35 years to include the Stargell/Parker 79 series. Even with this aberration, Our Phils are better. Going back only 25 years leaves out the playoff clubs of 78, 80,81 and 83. My whole point is that you can’t count a one year aberration by the Pirates this year until they string together a few good seasons. Before this year, when was the last time the Pirates were any good? I have followed baseball long enough to know that things can change, either way, in a hurry. Oh, and by the way, for a hundred years the Cardinals are never down for long. That is not talent or luck on the field, that is astute player management.

      • Ken Bland

        October 11, 2013 at 3:45 pm

        “Oh, and by the way, for a hundred years the Cardinals are never down for long. That is not talent or luck on the field, that is astute player management.”

        Not to distract from this Philli-Pirate thing, or even really quibble with the Cardinal point, but regarding St’ Louis, I think there’s a tendency to misjudge a little bit on their down periods.

        1964 was their first title in 18 years, ’82 was their first title in 14. Those are examples of pretty lengthy down periods, by some standards. But even if we use the real losers of the world as the measuring stick and call them short, it’s the IMPACT of the bounce back that makes the time seem less.

        18 years, followed by 3 WS in 5 years, 2 wins. That makes 18 years seem shorter.

        14 years followed by 3Fall Classics, only 1 win.

        But in both runs, they had some really and truly tremendous players that made their runs memorable.

        87-96 is maybe sorta long, but not terribly.

        And in the current run, which is not after lengthy periods, but once again, they are putting some memorable achievements behind, let alone dramatic classics like the Ranger series.

        My only comment on the Phil-Pirate thing is that those battles in the 70’s were some of the tremendous rivalries sports has featured. Even if the Phils and Bucs are good in the same year, it’s really hard to imagine modern times offering Kison/Schmidt or the like. It was fun being togerther in the NL East.

  2. Ken Bland

    October 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Cool article.

    Let us count the ways.

    But first, even before going to commercial break, let’s retitle it….”Ah ha hey hey, let’s keep beating up on the downtrodden Phillies.

    Firstly, a thanks to the appointed professor Adam Wainright, who borrowed from Jonathan Papelbon, noit to mention 2.354, 786 people before either to inform us it all starts at the top. Course when Papelbon inhales to speak, people are simultaneously pressing the off button to their eardrums, so don’t nobody care that he insightfully informed the microphones about it all starting at the top when he assessed what he didn’t sign up for.

    Kudos to the Cardinals for the mode of operation they are now embarked upon. It’s basically really, really good, and worthy of respect. But it ain’t all peaches and cream. Recognize it, but let’s not get carried away with their ’06 title, and inclusion of baseball god intrusion in their ’11 heist. But don’t think that even this franchise hasn’t spent time down and out. If you think the Phils have aging players they are dreaming about putting up youthful numbers (which they are), look at how the Cards handled the latter years of Louis Brock, and Bob Gibson. There’s a much shorter downtime in the comparable history of the Cardinals between really tremendous clubs, but cycles hang out with the arch as well. Mozeliak deserves a ton of credit for the Redbirds work this century, but it’s only the last 3-4 years that it’s really been maximum greatness, otherwise, they still run cycles also. And while it might be sustainable for several more years, and up the reading on the greatness scale, that’s still speculation..

    The Cardinals are one thing. The A’s. God love ’em, but gimme a break. It’s a colorful and story drenched presentation, but all yous need to know about Oakland is they are 1-12 in elimination games during the Beane years. Such a rocket scientific franchise would have already bunted Cabrera from injured to the PUP list with a smattering of bunts. Even if they win it all this year, which I’d meaninglessly classify as pretty unlikely, can we get some sustainability before we model them? Two straight divvy titles is a non mockable achievement. But let’s not rush ’em to the head of no class. If you’re gonna use the A’s as a model, you gotta go back, a way back to the Finley years. Even their late 80’s run only won ’em 1 WFC, and that don’t even consider the possible scam factor..

    There’s little, and maybe zero need for the Phils to watch this postseason, to seek lessons. There is no hidden secret to winning. And you ain’t always gonna win. The Phils, Amaro, whoever have pulled some bonehead moves that have reduced them to a laughingstock among a lot of the above casual fan demographic. The best learning tonic for them is to have learned from their own mistakes, not the semi blueprint achievements of this year’s cream of the crop. Frankly, it’s optimistic that they will, but there’s nothing revolutionary about this year’s winners. Not unless there be’s a secret potion to knowing that the likes of Beltran and Lackey would be healthy, or that Victorino still had a lot of game left.

    • George

      October 10, 2013 at 4:27 pm

      I like that sentiment “learn from your own mistakes.” It’s obvious that there’s no sinle plan for winning. The Dodgers and Tigers did it with money; so have the Yankees for almost their entire existance, and yet the the A’s do it mostly by metrics, the Cards with a bit of both, and although the Rays and A’s stay close, they never seem to have the final ingredient to go all the way. And the Pirates? I can’t call them a consistent winner yet, and with a 37 year old closer and a starting pitcher talking retirement, they might not be so good next year, especially if they suffer one or two injuries.

  3. bacardipr

    October 10, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    The Phillies are still operating under the WS or bust manta. Relying on whats left of the Core. Using the same basic principals as before. I think Rube finally came to grips that after 2 seasons without making the playoffs its time for a change or adopting a new strategy. Whilst i believe Rube should of gave them one more shot it became apparent after the 2012 season a new strategy/plan was needed. Unfortunately i dont know if Rube is the man to adopt or create or turn around this org. Rube has also partially handicapped the club with some of these contracts. Fortunately they might be able to close the gap a little since they are able or willing to spend some. However for the foreseeable future (unless Rube makes some trades) they are still limited in what they can do. It’ll be interesting to see what Rube tries to pull off.

    • Ken Bland

      October 10, 2013 at 6:26 pm

      “Unfortunately i dont know if Rube is the man to adopt or create or turn around this org.”

      As late as 1945, just raw numbers would suggest that there were 1 or 2 steadfast Germans that wondered whether Hitler was still the man to push the would be German dynasty forward to rule the universe. Whatever the German population was, 1 or 2’s not a ridiculous guess.

      I think I just compared Ruben to Hitler.

      Ten points for originality. The guy’s been compared to every other moron in western, eastern, and any direction you want civilization, so why not.

      Ya gotta love it when somebody reduces a situation to mystery with the I just don’t know clause.

      • buffy08210

        October 10, 2013 at 10:44 pm

        Godwin’s Law is proven correct again!!!

      • wbramh

        October 11, 2013 at 1:54 am

        It has to be the first time Godwin has been invoked over a baseball GM’s performance.
        But Ken realized he went a bit overboard.
        He meant to compare Ruben to Goebbels.

    • schmenkman

      October 10, 2013 at 6:27 pm

      I don’t think it’s been “WS or bust” for a while now. It looks more like they’ve been in rebuilding mode since July of last year:

      – they haven’t traded a single prospect worth anything since the first Pence trade 2 years ago
      – they haven’t spent more than $8mm per year on anyone in free agency since December of 2011
      – they’ve added through draft or trade: Morgan, Martin, Revere, Joseph, Simon, Lino, JP Crawford
      – guys they developed are playing in Philly with Franco on the way

      In the meantime he’s been trying to make the small moves that, if things broke right, could have put them in contention. Obvioulsy, things did not go right, with the injuries to Adams, Howard, and Halladay, and with Delmon continuing to stink rather than repeat his one good year of 2010.

      • brooks

        October 11, 2013 at 6:35 am

        Here is a consideration – to spend money of course. Price is probably going to be available.

      • hk

        October 12, 2013 at 7:17 am


        A couple of your points are a little off-base or at least misleading:

        1. “they haven’t traded a single prospect worth anything since the first Pence trade 2 years ago”

        This depends upon your definition of “worth anything” but both Trevor May and Lisalberto Bonilla were considered to be worth something to the Twins and Rangers, respectively, when they traded for them. Both were also top 15 Phillies prospects when they traded them away. If you are going to credit them with the acquisitions of Simon and Lino, you should at least recognize the losses of May and Bonilla.

        2. “they haven’t spent more than $8mm per year on anyone in free agency since December of 2011”

        This is misleading because the arbitrary starting point ignores the fact that they signed Jon Papelbon in November 2011, which is in the same off-season as December 2011. The Papelbon signing, cost them their 1st round pick in the 2012 draft, was definitely a “WS or bust” type of signing. Are you suggesting that they changed from a “WS or bust” philosophy 2 weeks after they signed Papelbon?

      • schmenkman

        October 12, 2013 at 8:13 am

        May and Bonilla of course had some value to the acquirer, or they wouldn’t been requested, but maybe the Phillies knew more about them then Texas and Minnesota did. May is now 24 and has yet to pitch above AA. Bonilla pitched well in AA last year and once he adjusts to AAA could well be a valuable reliever. But point taken.

        The December ’11 starting point was just stating the situation. If it had said since the 2011-12 offseason, I don’t think it changes the fact that they’ve shied away from committing to big FA contracts since then. Hamels and Utley have been extended, but I don’t see many objecting to those (nor should they IMO).

      • Ryne Duren

        October 12, 2013 at 9:38 am

        @ schmenkman ….Couldn’t agree more with your comment pal. Personally I don’t think the FO endorses the saying ” we’re rebuilding” simply for the reason that they’d lose some ticket buyers. And most likely they’re right. But by not winning and having a poor product on the field it’s going to happen or already happened. So what’s the point? I call it being a wuss.
        What the FO doesn’t realize is that most of us long term fans know that you have to have a down period after a 5-6 year big up period. This team isn’t the same team that was cheap all those years. They have proved to me that they are willing to do what it takes to get players that will help us win.
        They have been beaten up for some of the moves they’ve made while they were in that 5 year run, but those who understand the game realize that to stay on top and “go for it” requires a risk of the future to gain the gold ring so to speak. People complain about this contract and that contract and how much money blah blah. To me that’s doesn’t mean squat. Cause it doesn’t mean squat to the phils. I’d bet the house that if they were in a position to win it all again? They would go over the threshold to achieve the gold ring.
        And as you said schmenk they are in rebuild. I’ve mentioned it last year briefly and earlier this season. these guys “the youngs” and the others are stop gaps till the young players are ready. And now they are starting to filter up. The contracts with the core if you will. I think, were structured just for this reason of young players coming up while staying competitive.
        However I think they realize now that things have to change, and I hope they get on with it.

      • hk

        October 12, 2013 at 9:40 am

        When May and Bonilla were traded, they were both thought of as better prospects industry-wide than Lino, so it seems inconsistent to give the team credit for acquiring Lino without at least mentioning that they gave up two better prospects in other deals.

        If you are suggesting that the Phils were not in “WS or bust” mode in December 2011, that’s a huge philosophical change for a team that two weeks earlier gave up it’s first round pick and $50M for 4 years to a closer. The point is that I think your timeline is wrong. If they left “WS or bust” mode, it was sometime during the 2012 season when they realized how far from contention they really were.

      • schmenkman

        October 12, 2013 at 12:31 pm

        They’ve been rebuilding, and no longer in “WS or bust” mode, since July 2012.

  4. c. schreiber

    October 10, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    Really Schmeck, than how do you explain his “small moves” (your words not mine) with Bernandia, McDonald and MiniFart. I personally like your explanations of things, sort of like a Tea Party chump.

    • loupossehl

      October 10, 2013 at 8:54 pm

      Bernadina, Mcdonald … throw in Wells for good measure … they cost nothing and Amaro was playing Lookie-Loo: nothing to lose; maybe he gets lucky. Understandable given the ’13 season, and what the heck.

      The Michael Martinez phenomenon was, is, and always will be a complete mystery. Kinda like the Man in the Iron Mask: try as we might, we will never know the whole story. With that, I see it as a good thing: it gives the Phillies a mystique that the other clubs must envy terribly.

  5. bacardipr

    October 10, 2013 at 10:28 pm

    Scmek some valid points. However i think as a whole they where still under that WS or bust plan. They simply where outbid on some of the guys they where trying to sign.

    • George

      October 10, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      I think they were outbid because other t6eams wanted t6hose free agents more. There’s only so high you’ll go if you don’t think someone like B.J Upton or Bourn are the long term answer. It’s probably a good thing Amaro left the market for those two when he did. Revere was cheaper than Upton and actually had a better year. The fact that Ruben allowed himself to be outbid should be evidence that he was NOT in “WS or bust” mode.

  6. Lefty

    October 10, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    I have a lot of respect for the way John Mozeliak runs his organization. His model is proving to work best – three straight years. He wasn’t afraid to let Pujols walk, that took some serious cojones. It takes a lot of luck no doubt, but also some courage as well. And they have a great farm system as well. It seems like every time there is a hole, they have a young guy to fill it- pretty amazing IMO.

    • George

      October 10, 2013 at 11:28 pm

      It took no guts at all to let Pujols go. He was going to get even more money than Amaro would have given out. You can’t bankrupt your franchise by signing one player and Mozeliak knew it.

      He’s won three straight. The Phils used a different modus operandi and still made the post season five times in a row. I’m not trying to disrespect Mozeliak, but it seems to me that too many people seem to have forgotten what their home-town team has done. Every team around can hit a bad spot, and even the Cards could given a year or two more.

      • Lefty

        October 11, 2013 at 7:47 am

        Wait, you don’t think that having to tell your fan base that you are not going to sign their hero took some serious guts? He was absolutely THE greatest offensive player in the game at that time. Are you kidding me George?

        Think about this, think of how the fans here would have reacted if they failed to extend Hamels who, while damn good, has not displayed anywhere close to first ballot HOF numbers in the first 8 years of his career. Then multiply that by -I don’t know, a gazillion??- for a guy that had historic Major League numbers, sure fire first ballot HOF, in his career with the Cardinals. Mozeliak took a major, I mean huge, risk that he would lose a healthy portion of his season ticket base, and maybe he did initially, I don’t keep up with them that closely. But instead what transpired was three straight playoff appearances and a World Championship.

        Also, I purposely didn’t mention- or make a comparison to RA Jr. or the Phils in my comment. Just noted my amazement for their operation.

      • George

        October 11, 2013 at 8:11 pm

        It took no guts. Mozeliak is a businessman, and doesn’t make decisions based solely on popularity. Also, he made a decent offer to Pujols and was turned down. Cards fans couldn’t be too upset with that, and were probably even less upset when Pujols, despite his monster offensive numbers got the most ridiculous contract in the history of the game.

        All the Cards’ boss had to do was ignore the idiots clamoring to bankrupt the franchise by keeping ONE player, and explain to the intelligent fans that Pujols was going to get too much money that would keep the team from making needed improvements in other areas and that Pujols was going to be well past prime should he be kept long term. I didn’t notice the team struggling and I didn’t see their attendance plummeting after Pujols left, so Mozeliak obviously made the right move. If a person has confidence in what he is doing, a decision is child’s play, not “gutsy.”

      • schmenkman

        October 12, 2013 at 1:25 am

        I thought commenter Bud in TN made a good point about this at another site just now:

        “Cards fans tend to be here-in-the-now fans. Maybe because a lot of their recent success has happened surprisingly (2006, 2011) and with a different lineup; the fans I know sort of just go-with-the-flow. I’m sure there are SABR/fangraphs or even WIPish fans, I just don’t know any.

        They tend to trust management. And perhaps with good reason. So, while there was sadness in Pujols departure, at least around here it did not have the earthshattering effect parting with Utley would have in Philly. It’s also true that all that $$ that the Angels gave Pujols helped the Cards fans be OK with him leaving.”

  7. bacardipr

    October 11, 2013 at 1:57 am

    I was hoping that they would not sign BJ. Though Amaro seemed he wanted to sign him. A Hamilton contract was also put on the table. Their already inflated payroll was the main reason for them not going higher.

    • George

      October 11, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      Had Amaro really wanted to sign B.J. Upton, he would have signed him. When he’s wanted a player in the past, he’s nearly always gotten that player.

      I also hoped he’d pass on Upton, and I have to give him credit for only making a half-hearted attempt to get him. It seemed to me Amaro looked just for appearance’s sake, and I don’t think putting in some effort, even if he had no real desire for BJ, was an accident; it probably boosted the price the Braves ended up paying, which is always a good thing.

  8. brooks

    October 12, 2013 at 7:35 am

    There should be no stopping the LA Dodgers – not even the Cards at this point.
    Looking at their roster, at first reminded me of the 08 Phils, weakness at 3rd and they have a weakness at 2nd – but, even with Kemp on the bench and Ramirez playing up to his Marlin like stats – this team is scary for a few years to come. Everyone is in their low 30’s (except Puig), there is power all over the lineup… and with Greinke, Kershaw, Jansen and that freak Wilson –
    Of course if I pick’em, they will fall.

    • Chuck A.

      October 12, 2013 at 9:04 am

      Well, can’t really root for either the Cards or the Dodgers, especially the Cards. I’ll be more interested in that AL series and really hope Jimmy Leyland and his Tigers get it done this season.

    • schmenkman

      October 12, 2013 at 9:23 am

      The Dodgers do look strong, but we know that only goes so far in a short series.

    • Lefty

      October 12, 2013 at 1:05 pm

      I’m rooting for Shane- Go Sawx!

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