Wednesday, January 22, 2014

If You Gaze Too Deeply Into the Phillies...

A few years back, it was fashionable to suggest that the Phillies - flush with cash, riding a wave of success, sitting on top of a major market - were positioned to become the Yankees of the NL. Now, with the signing of star Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (24-0 counts as a "star", yes), the Yankees have completed their metamorphosis into the Phillies of the NL.

Consider the Philberts and their current situation. They are old. They are slow. They have injury concerns, and lots of questions about their bullpen. They have fripping great wodges of money locked into contracts for an oft-injured "slugging" first baseman who doesn't slug, and a team leader at shortstop who looks to be on a steep statistical slide. They're going cheap at third base. They signed a veteran outfielder for more money than anyone expected, based on what might be a fluke year. There's little help on the way in the farm system and their one area of strength at the major league level is a top-heavy rotation led by a couple of elite starters.

Now, look at the Yankees. Old? Check. Slow? Except for a couple of new signees in the outfield, definitely check. Big, aging money sinks at short and first? Check. Going cheap at third? Check. Expensive outfield pickup? Check, though Ellsbury came for a bit more lucre than Marlon Byrd did. Nothing in the pipeline? Check? And the one place they've got certifiable talent? Well, with adding Tanaka, it's most definitely the rotation.

As a Phillies fan, I hate this model. There's no place you can see improvement coming from on the roster, and any slippage by aces Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee will be magnified catastrophically. 

But on the Yankees, hey, it looks good. Let the rest of the league rend their garments over the Yankees making the signing (and signing themselves up for even more luxury tax). I'm thinking if any Yankee fans ever come south to Broad Street, it's going to look awfully familiar.
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