It signalled a new era in the city. The team had committed to a generational talent; the team were going to build around their franchise player. J.T. Realmuto, Andrew McCutchen, Jean Segura, Sixto Sanchez and David Robertson all joined Philly in 2019. The time was now for Philadelphia to become contenders. It didn’t turn out quite that way. The club finished .500 and placed 4th in the NL East.
That was not good enough, and it resulted in Gabe Kapler getting fired. 2020 was supposed to be different. With a new manager in Joe Girardi and an expanded playoff system, the Phillies were going to make the postseason. They didn’t.
The Phillies finished under .500 and missed out on the playoffs. The shortened season saw the Phillies struggle, plus the club is claiming to have lost a vast amount of money. The economic realities have hit hard in Philadelphia. They created a team to compete, and it seems like it is getting broken up already.
No room for the Phillies
The Phillies went all in, in 2019, and it failed. Now, they are cutting their cloth accordingly. The luxury tax threshold may be lower this year due to the lost revenue in 2020. The Phillies are now paying the price of failure. The NL East currently looks much more challenging than wit did in 2019. The Braves have gotten stronger, the Mets under new ownership are willing to splash the cash, the Marlins are on the up. The NL East looks top-heavy, and with the offseason moves the Phillies have made it seems like they won’t contend.
In baseball, rebuilds are long and painful. The Detroit Tigers have demonstrated that. What the Phillies can’t afford to do is go 50-50. The team must commit to the rebuild and trade Bryce Harper as the Marlins did with Giancarlo Stanton a few years ago. Having a $330 million player on a team that at best will finish 4th in the division is a waste of time. Harper has a contract that has 11 years left on it. Does he want to spend his prime years on a rebuilding team? And if the Phillies go for the full rebuild, the team will be bad for several years.
The Phillies will embark on a tough 2021 season, and the team is stuck in a ditch going nowhere. The Phillies front office has wasted the last two years. Poor roster construction led to a suspect rotation taking the field. That made the Phillies a suspect team, and they missed out on the playoffs. Now, they don’t know how to proceed. The rotation still lacks any depth behind Aaron Nola, while the infield cupboard is bare. It will not be popular saying this, but the Phillies need to tank. It is the only way to win in baseball if you don’t want to spend absurd amounts of money. The Phillies do not want to spend the money. In a division that looks incredibly difficult to win, the Phillies will finish under .500 again.
The Phillies are a Philadelphia sporting institution. They are as synonymous with the city as Cheesesteaks and Rocky are. In 2021 the fans will be back in the stadium, they will not want to hear this. The Philadelphia Phillies need to rebuild now; they must retool the farm system and amass draft picks. That means that they need to restart at the front office level. The incumbents had their shot and failed. It is time to let someone else have a crack.
In leagues with no relegation, there is no value in hovering around .450 to miss out on the playoffs. You are better off being bad for three to five years in the hope that the team will be healthier later down the line. The current path the Phillies are ploughing is one of mediocrity and in the City of Brotherly Love, mediocrity will get you zero love from the Philly faithful.