In a town where the Philadelphia Phillies have floundered for much of the past three seasons, the other two major teams—the Philadelphia 76ers and Philadelphia Eagles—have at least showed they have a sound plan to build a future.
The Phillies have floundered because they had no such plan, but the time has come for one now. Unlike football and basketball, this calls for a different approach. If GM Ruben Amaro Jr. needs any advice, here it is: Trade for prospects, dump salary and sit under-performing veterans.
Surely, there will be a high-end market for starting pitchers like Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee, and the Phillies should be able to dump more than $40 million of their yearly payroll in trading those two to the highest bidders. If the teams don’t take the full salaries, then the Phillies should consider eating $20 million of the $45 million owed to those two pitchers next year. In return, they should both bring back at least four solid Single A or Double A prospects ready to join the big club in one or two years.
The same can be said for outfielder Marlon Byrd and Jonathan Papelbon, who each should bring a return of one or two good prospects. The team must not be afraid to sit an under-performing veteran like Ryan Howard, no matter how much he’s making.
Amaro probably understands that players like Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins are unmovable parts right now because both do not want to waive their no-trade clauses and because both would probably not bring as much as Lee, Hamels, Byrd and Papelbon.
That frees up enough money for the Phillies to fill in around Utley and Rollins in the offseason with wise free agent acquisitions. It’s not a complete gutting of the team like the Sixers, but at least it’s a plan that they can build upon and hopefully one they can successfully execute.