You Have to Admire Phillies, Yankees

You Have to Admire Phillies, Yankees

by Pat Nestor

When the Philadelphia Phillies traded Cliff Lee in this offseason, I thought the team was crazy. They had a chance to have a killer 1-2 punch of Roy Halladay and Lee with a solid Cole Hamels (a legit #2 pitcher) as their #3. Facing those three in a playoff series would be a seemingly insurmountable feat… especially when you factor in the Phils strong line-up with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jason Werth anchoring an American League like offense.

The Phils were worried about their farm system though and traded Lee to restock it somewhat after making a serious dent in it to acquire Halladay (and Lee himself the year before). It was a big mistake.

Well, the Phillies realized that mistake when they struggled to win any games this year not started by Halladay or Hamels. With a number of injuries to their position players and a team that had gone to the World Series in each of the last two years I don’t think anyone would have blamed the Phillies if they stood pat and let the season played out and perhaps prepared for the 2011 season. Stuck in third place for most of the season, it didn’t look like the playoffs were very likely anyway.

So what do they do? They fight like hell to get Roy Oswalt, who, while not as much of a no-doubt pitcher as Cliff Lee is, still is a major upgrade to anything they had and creates a very strong 1-2-3 top of the rotation with Halladay and Hamels. The trade looks likely, just awaiting the approve of Oswalt himself, but even if it doesn’t happen, it’s still a sign the Phillies will do as much as they can to build a winner.

A few weeks ago, the Yankees were on the edge of acquiring Lee from the Mariners and in fact seemed to have a deal in place that the Mariners backed down from in ordere to get what they felt was a better offer from the Texas Rangers. When that fell through, they tried to get Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks. That also didn’t come to pass.

The Yankees though, unlike the Phillies, have the best record in baseball and already have a quite formidable starting rotation of C.C. Sabathia, Andy Pettitte (who is on the DL right now, granted), Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett and Javy Vazquez. Even with Pettitte on the DL, the team is winning and winning effortlessly. Their line-up is stacked, yet their are runors they have been looking to improve it by looking at Adam Dunn or Jose Batista.

Some people were angry when the Yankees tried to get Lee. They were a powerhouse team already… wasn’t enough, enough?

Not to the Yankees… and seemingly the Phillies. You see, both teams have been making the right moves the last few years… they are top teams who never seem to be satisfied and strive to make themselves better.

For the Yankees, this is status quo. They’ve always looked to field a team of all-stars to the point that it’s really not major news when they win… it’s actually bigger news when they DON’T. You expect the Yankees to win because they put the best talent on the field. They give their fans expectations that no only sports franchise can match. That is beyond admirable. A team that puts winning on such a pedistal that they want to give themselves the biggest advantage the rules will allow… no matter how lopsided it may seem is one to praise and emulate, not bash.

The Yankees do what EVERY team should strive to do. Field the best possible team and never be satisfied… but always look to improve. THAT is how a winning organization builds Dynasties.

The Phillies don’t have the same winning tradition that the Yankees do. In fact they were the first ever continuous, one-name, one-city franchise in all of sports to lose 10,000 games. However, they were a team energized by an unexpected playoff run in 2007 when the Mets let a 7 game lead in the NL East to get away and the Phillies have strived to improve themselves ever since. They also were an organization that was smart enough to admit its own mistakes and weaknesses after the horrible decision to trade away Lee and have been trying everything to correct that mistake. Most organizations aren’t smart enough to do that.

For all of the people screaming about how unfair the Yankees “rich get richer” ways are… you need to realize that they are only doing what they SHOULD be doing. Other teams could do the same thing. The Mets, Dodgers, Red Sox, Angels, Braves, Cardinals, Orioles and Cubs all have major markets and the money to make simular moves, but except for the Red Sox and occasionally the Braves and Cards, most of them don’t on a regular basis. The Phillies seem to have entered that realm where they do what they have to do each year to make themselves better and put themselves in a great postion to just win.

That is what this should all be about people… these teams should be looking to do whatever they can to WIN. I don’t want to hear about money… any team should know… if you WIN, then the team will make money. You’ll sell out games because fans ALWAYS flock to a winner. Those sellouts will make a lot of money also on food, parking and merchandise. The more you win, the longer the fans will throw money at the teams to come to games.

I look at a franchise like the Mets… who HAVE spent money… they HAVE been willing to make moves… only the moves haven’t always been the right ones, and the last two years the team has NOT made a move that could push them over the top. Acquiring Roy Oswalt or Cliff Lee would have been a MAJOR boost for the Mets. This is a team that has given it’s fans two major collapses and a 92 loss season in the last three years. This year is quickly slipping away. The Mets need to make up its mind where they are going as a franchise because at this rate, it’s looking like a team not willing to do what it takes to step it up with the Yankees and Phillies, two teams its going to always have to square off against… and that’s just wrong. The Mets ownership and management need to take a long look at itself and make some serious decisions.

UPDATE: According to Jayson Stark of, Roy Oswalt plans to OK the deal that will send him to the Phillies. The Astros will receive J.A. Happ and two prospects in return. In addition Stark says, “The Astros will pay $11 million of the approximately $23 million Oswalt has guaranteed through 2011.” In other words, the Phillies are a much stronger team now people. I think the Mets are likely going to need to shift their thinking and look towards 2011 and how to improve the team to step it up and compete with solid looking Brave and Phillie teams.