Large payrolls are becoming a common place in baseball as 12 MLB teams have total payrolls over $150 million. Over the past two decades teams have been throwing money at ball players convincing themselves that it is a worthwhile investment. A lot of the time these mega contracts fall flat for the team, contracts similar to players like Josh Hamilton, Ryan Howard or Melvin Upton Jr. The Philadelphia Phillies were a team that paid big contracts to keep their core players. I think the evidence is clear… It didn’t work.
From 2007 to 2011 the Philadelphia Phillies were one of the most dominant teams in baseball, winning five straight division titles and one World Series. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. gave contracts to the core players that help them win the 2008 World Series and by 2011 the Phillies had big contracts for Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels. The Phillies then paid out a big contract to veteran free agents Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay.
Entering the 2011 season the Phillies were favorites to win another World Series. The second best game (in my opinion) of the Cardinal’s 2011 post season run was when Chris Carpenter pitched a complete game 3 hit shutout to end the Phillies season, and essentially closing the door on their domination of the NL east.
When Ryan Howard grounded out (and tore his Achilles) to end the game, it started a chain of events that would send the organization crashing down. The Phillies would end up third in the NL East in 2012, fourth in 2013, and by June of 2014 the Phillies had the worst record in the NL and the 3rd highest payroll in baseball.
The Phillies contracts:
Ryan Howard – 5yr $125 million (Extension signed him through 2017)
Cole Hamels – 6yr $144 million (Traded in 2015 for prospects)
Chase Utley – 7yr $86 million (Phillies paid him $2 million to play in LA last year)
Jimmy Rollins – 5yr $52.5 million (Also traded to LA)
Cliff Lee – 5yr $107.5 million
Roy Halladay – 3yr $60 million
Ryan Howard saw a huge decline in production, and was released at the end of 2016, owing him $10 million to sit at home in 2017.
Cole Hamels after going 8-14 in 2013 and 9-9 in 2014 Hamels was traded to the Texas Rangers for prospects. He could be the highest paid pitcher who never won more than 17 games in a season.
Chase Utley would go on to battle injuries and never hit more than 20HR or 100 RBI again.
Jimmy Rollins had steady decline in OPS, run production, and an increase in errors. He and Utley were both traded to the Dodgers in separate deals for prospects.
The Phillies have been living in the basement of the National League for the past 5 years, a time in which fans and management would be the brightest in the team’s history.
While the Phillies were paying big contracts to aging players, the Cardinals have gone a different rout by letting key players sign elsewhere. This has caused fans to criticize the direction of Mozeliak and the front office.
Cardinal fans have always been split on John Mozeliak’s direction for the roster. Even in his first year when trading Jim Edmonds to San Diego, Cardinal fans were upset. (they did get this David Freece kid though) From not offering enough to top name free agents like David Price or trading players that were thought to be the future, (Allen Craig, Joe Kelly, Colby Rasmus) fans have been critical of his dealings. In 2011 a half of Cardinal fans were mad that he didn’t sign Pujols to the big money he wanted. (Though most won’t admit to it now) Pujols has seen a decline in his production numbers, and with 5yrs $140 million left to pay on his contract I don’t see the Angels getting a return for their money.
Oh yeah, the Cardinals received 2 compensation picks for Albert signing with the Angels… Stephen Piscotty and Michael Wacha.
The criticism continues for Mozeliak: Should the Cardianals resign Molina? Was Fowler he right sign? Why is Wong still on the team? (Wait, why is Wong still on the team?) So a reminder to the fans that are hesitant on the Molina deal. This JohnMo guy knows a thing or two.
Only two players remain on the 25-man roster that played for the 2011 World Series Champions. We have seen players come and go, and even had the tragedy of a young future star die in a car accident. Through all of this the Cardinals have stayed relevant, making the playoffs 6 of the last 7 years. Winning 2 NL Pennants and 1 World Series under the direction of John Mozeliak. It’s time to just get on board with the Mozeliak way. As long as he is putting a contender on the field and not giving us what Philadelphia had to endure for the past 5 seasons, I’ll trust in Mo!
Thanks for reading.