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Hot Stove

Phillies owner John Middleton expects team may get “a little bit stupid” in spending this off-season

Principal owner John Middleton reportedly stated the club is willing to spend “stupid” money to make the Phillies a winner.

Much has been made about the Philadelphia Phillies likely being aggressive in the free agent market this off-season. Now we are learning that “aggressive” might not be the best way to describe the club’s plans.

Phillies principal owner John Middleton, a multi-billionaire with an MBA from Harvard University, is hardly stupid. But apparently that may be the better word to use if you wish to describe the team’s plans in approaching the current market of available players.

The MLB owner’s meetings were held on Wednesday and Thursday in Atlanta, Georgia. Per Bob Nightengale for USA Today Sports, this was how Middleton described the Phillies spending plans during this ‘Hot Stove’ season:

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money. And maybe even be a little bit stupid about it.’’

Of course, this was just Middleton using a turn of phrase. He has no intention of spending stupidly, which the team has been accused of doing in recent years. In fact, Nightengale reports that Middleton immediately laughed it off himself before saying “We just prefer not to be completely stupid.

Harper and Machado are the two big free agent prizes, and seem to perfectly fit what the Phillies need. (Photos: Arturo Pardavila III and Ian D’Andrea)

In a series of recent pieces here at Phillies Nation (see below), I’ve outlined the importance of this off-season from a competitive standpoint. I’ve talked about the state of the Phillies current and future financial obligations. And I’ve written on the results, which should have direct impact on general manager Matt Klentak’s next job evaluation by Middleton.

Scott Lauber at speculated on the Phillies owner potentially going after both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado with a blank check:

“Middleton’s motivation to accelerate the rebuild is well-known throughout the league. Officials from multiple rival teams have suggested, more seriously than not, that he’s prepared to offer a blank check to either Harper or Machado and have him fill in the number. There has even been speculation that the Phillies could drop more than $700 million to sign both players.”

The Phillies owner is in it to win it. He has never expressed anything other than a strong desire to have the club develop into a year-in, year-out consistent contender.

The real question that Phillies fans are now asking is do Middleton’s baseball people, particularly Klentak and club president Andy MacPhail, have what it takes to make that a reality?

Matt is going to be a busy boy this winter,’’ Middleton said to Nightengale in regard to his general manager. However, in the end the GM will need to have been more than “busy”, he’ll need to have been successful.

As the 2018 Phillies collapse was drawing to a merciful close, Bob Brookover at wrote about the need for Middleton to get more open and vocal in regards to the team’s performance and future:

“The truth is that the entire operation is a reflection on Middleton…MacPhail hired Klentak and Klentak hired Kapler, but, make no mistake, the Phillies are Middleton’s team and what is taking place is his vision.”

Middleton is ready to open the purse strings and lay out the cash for “stupid” big contracts. It is now up to Klentak and MacPhail to get the right impact players to sign their names to such contracts. And it is up to Middleton to ensure that they understand the importance of making the right decisions, and the consequences of failure.




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