When news broke that the Phillies designated right-fielder Delmon Young for assignment last week, there was a sort of audible sigh of relief from the fanbase, who finally got a chance to say “I told you so.” Young, who was a value-buy at less than a million dollars for the season, just isn't a good player, and it took way too long for the Phillies to realize that. David Murphy of the Daily News broke down the Young signing in some detail on Monday, and how that line of thinking is causing the Phillies to go down a very, very bad path.
And that should honestly concern any Phillies fan who thinks that the last 2 years will prove to be a minor smudge on the otherwise storied career of one of baseball's great organizational architects. Because the only evidence that Delmon Young is a better offensive performer than he performed for the Phillies are the 7-year-old scouting reports that the club included as part of its consideration before signing the former top prospect. Rational thought suggests that the 7 years of results that the player had compiled since the writing of those reports should have taken precedence. If they had, the Phillies would have been well aware that they were signing a player who hits for average power, who plays below-average defense, and who does not reach base nearly enough to make tenable his abilities in the first two departments.
Murphy, who for my money is one of the best beat writers covering the Phillies, hit the nail on the head when it came to breaking down the issues that face the Ruben Amaro-designed Phillies. It's not just that they've had a series of bad signings and trades since Amaro took the job following the 2008 season, it's that the process is a broken one. It's not as if they ran into bad luck for players that should have ordinarily performed well, they simply signed plenty of bad players who performed exactly how you'd expect them to. Delmon Young was simply the most recent in a series of misfires for the Phillies.
And it's for that reason that the Phillies face an uphill battle over the foreseeable future, as nothing less than a complete philosophical overhaul is likely to succeed when it comes to building a team. The Phillies are an old and bloated ballclub, and there is no end in sight if they don't make some serious adjustments.
There are some bright spots on the horizon, namely the performance of youngsters Cody Asche, Jonathan Pettibone, and Ethan Martin – not to mention first round draft pick J.P. Crawford, who owns a .977 OPS in 33 games in the Rookie League as an 18 year old – but it's going to take more than that for this team to be a contender in the near future.
A quick look back at the team that won the 2008 World Series tells you everything that you need to know when it comes to constructing a winner: it takes talented, home-grown players, good pitching, and the right free agent moves to get over the top. Having a big payroll doesn't hurt, but the Phillies need to rely more on a potential television deal and a large payroll to compete in the division and in the National League.
Murphy's piece takes Amaro to task, and he doesn't pull any punches when it comes to assessing his performance as a General Manager over the past few seasons. It's a good read, and if it doesn't scare you a little bit when you think about the future of the Phillies organization.