Tuesday, April 27, 2010

RIP: Philadelphia Phillies 2001-2011

Normally, I would spend today catching up on the recent winning homestand, lambasting Brian Bruney, and pointing out the similarities and slim differences between Tim Hudson and Craig Stammen. Hell, if the Nats could regularly win 60% of their home games, I'd probably be out of a blog. The Bombs got on the Nats wagon at Rock Bottom (the existential pinnacle of failure, not the brewery) and are prepared to drive it as far as the Elvis quaff will allow.

Instead, we will look ahead, as that is what the Phillies apparently believe they are doing by investing 125 million more dollars into the limited skill set that is Ryan Howard. I understand the Phillies trying to keep their nucleus intact to make runs at another title, but after drawing the line at Cliff Lee, they dive into the abyss for fewer wins at first base?

The Phillies have had a great run, especially since 2007. The smart play going forward would have been to keep Lee, get maximum return for Jayson Werth or Raul Ibanez at the deadline, and drive the harder bargain with Howard, regardless of where Pujols sets the bar. However, they are still very capable of being one of the three best teams in the NL, and the fans would burn the city if they rebuilt for 2011 and 2012 while 2010 was well within grasp.

Instead, they look to be keeping their aging core onward past their 35th birthdays, hoping their jacks hold up against the monster hand the AL East is holding. They can't budget with the Yankees and Sox, so they have to build in cycles, and this generation has come to pass, one title one runner-up. Committing to Howard through 2017 is crazier than blocking him with an aging Jim Thome.

I mention this because the Nationals will be dealing with a VERY similar situation negotiating with Adam Dunn. The hard bargain will be to keep him down to two to three years, with nothing escalating much past 12 million per season. Dunn has never won anything in his major league career, but is a good clubhouse guy and took a career-altering position change in stride. The Nats do not want to Zito their budget with an aging slugger with no position.

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