After a week that saw the Phillies complete two series wins against the Padres and Cubs, many fans and analysts thought the team was turning the corner. In fact, the Phillies put up double-digit run totals in back to back games Monday and Tuesday before completing the series win with an 8-0 shutout on Thursday. With the bats coming alive and the relief pitching seemingly rounding into form, the team should "Buy" narrative began to resonate like a cannon. So as this chatter continues to gain steam, let the debates begin...should this team buy?
Well, folks, sorry to burst your bubble; there really is only one true answer to this question! The Phillies should absolutely not buy at this point. My message is straightforward...PUMP THE BRAKES!
Let's start with the team's record.
The Phillies are 42-44, which is 5 games behind the division-leading Mets, who have also played two fewer games to this point. If you put the barometer of wins at 88 to win the division, the Phillies would have to go 46-30 the rest of the way. In contrast, the Mets would only have to go 42-36, which is a much easier task. And let's not forget, the Mets will be getting healthier down the stretch as Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman return from injury.
If you look at the rest of the National League, it appears that three teams from the West are on pace to make the playoffs, with the Dodgers, Giants, and Padres primed for a post-season birth. That means that the only way for the Phillies to gain entrance is to win the division. The odds of the Phillies even making the playoffs, let alone sneaking in as a wild card team, are extremely low. And the odds of them winning a championship are slim to none.
Lack of Trade Chips
Even if the Phillies were to buy, what needle-moving player are they even capable of acquiring?
No matter who the target is, you have to give up talent to get talent. For those choir boys saying that this team is only a closer away from contending, the name Craig Kimbrell surely sounds intriguing. However, what do you think a player of his caliber will cost? Furthermore, you must also remember that you would be acquiring a player who is playing on an expiring contract!
The Phillies undoubtedly have one of the worst farm systems in baseball. With the team's pipeline living in thin-as-nails territory already, does it even make sense to break the bank even more? Because I can tell you if you want to go after a guy like Kimbrell (who as mentioned will only be a rental), I can tell you that it would cost a minimum of Mick Abell or Bryson Stott. Are you willing to mortgage one of the only bright spots in the Phillies system to only maybe at best make a playoff run? Because I sure as hell am not!
The Team Is Nowhere Close To Contending
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to understand that this Phillies team is light years away from being a championship-caliber team.
With that being said, it would be foolish for this team to become buyers. This organization has many holes throughout the system, and buying at this point would be subtraction by addition. If the Fightins' are going to turn this thing around, it's going to take a thoughtful process of selling off assets and becoming much better in the scouting and development areas of the team.
If you look across all spectrums of sports, the teams who have had consistent success in their respective leagues have been the teams that draft well and excel with player development. Teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Devil Rays come to mind as easy examples. Those teams have provided the model that the Phillies must adopt if they want to get out of the doldrums of mediocrity.
As a die-hard fan, I want nothing more than for this team to make the playoffs and to once again become relevant in MLB. However, the only way this team can truly correct the wrongs and failures of the past is to sell indeed. This is not the message that fanboys and homers want to hear, but this is clearly the truth. Don't buy the lie; embrace the sell. The truth will set you free!