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Are Ruben Amaro and the Phillies adopting the Eagles' policy?

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If I were Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, my off-season goal would consist of one thing only: to improve your team to beat the New York Yankees  in Ruben Amaro the 2010 World Series.

By now, it's a foregone conclusion that the National League is not a problem for the Philadelphia Phillies. One team (and possibly another) in the American League however, could be.

You know the first team. They are the reason why our current Phillies are not considered one of the best National League teams of all time. And with the recent moves of the Yankees and the second team- the Boston Red Sox, you have to wonder: have the Phillies improved well enough this off-season on paper to beat either one of these teams in a seven game series in October?

The answer: Probably not. At least not yet.

An optimist will tell you that this is why they play the games. A realist will tell you that things have indeed changed since Mariano Rivera got Shane Victorino to ground out to Robinson Cano several weeks back. Since that day the Phillies got a little better, the Yankees got considerably better, and the Red Sox added John Lackey  (another potential number one starter) to go with an already formidable rotation of Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Clay Buchholz. That same day, the Phillies traded their number one starter (Cliff Lee) to make room for Roy Halladay. The Yankees acquired Javier Vasquez  to be their fourth starter on Tuesday. Yes folks, the same Javier Vasquez who gives the Phillies fits. The same Javier Vasquez who will probably start Game Four of the World Series next year as opposed to C.C. Sabathia. Would the Phillies have won the World Series this year if they acquired Halladay? No. Cole Hamels  still had to pitch. 39 year-old Pedro Martinez started two games in the World Series. Is anyone really comfortable at this time with Hamels as your number two starter? Unproven J.A. Happ as your third or fourth starter? Jamie Moyer or Kyle Kendrick, anyone?........

It's a foregone conclusion by now that pitching wins championships. No matter what the Phillies tell us, Cliff Lee was in all likelihood moved for salary reasons. If that is the case, why even tender Joe Blanton and his $8 million? If the Phillies paid Adam Eaton and Geoff Jenkins NOT to play for them in 2009, why couldn't they keep Lee's $9 million dollar tag instead of trading him for prospects? Amaro states that his goal (in addition to playing for this year) is to make sure the Phillies franchise is set for the future as well. Amaro's argument is a reasonable one. However, bells quickly rung in my head, and his sentiments brought to mind the business philosophy of another local Philadelphia sports figurehead, the Philadelphia Eagles' Joe Banner.

So the question is this: are Amaro and the Phillies adopting Banner and the Eagles' philosophy of staying competitive over trying to win Joe Banner and the Eagles want to be competitive, and the Eagles are, but that's about it.championships every year? Looks that way. But before we go pointing fingers at Amaro, there is one discrepancy between the Phillies and Eagles: the Phillies championship in 2008, and the Super Bowl victory that has forever alluded Banner and the rest of the Eagles organization. It's a broken record, but we're going to keep on playing it until that changes. Even after the 2009 Phillies set an all-time record for attendance, you get the feeling that Banner and crew still don't realize that fans would come to Lincoln Financial Field even after the Eagles win a Super Bowl. Just watch Green Fans: The Movie. That will not stop!  We all have friends who are on a decade or longer waiting list to see their product. Truth be told, the Eagles have the chance to possibly do some very special things over the next few years if the defense improves and they keep this team together. After all, they were the "chosen ones." The team that was going to break "the drought." Then, another team came along and stole their thunder. That's like finally getting the courage to ask a girl out who you've liked for years, and then some transfer student comes in and snags her right under your nose on the first day of school.

Back to the Phillies. They have that championship, and with Amaro, you may not agree with his points but you can at least respect them. After all, we saw what Chicago Cubs fans have been literally dying to see for over a century last October. That's a good way to put things in perspective. Since the Phillies loss to the Yankees, Amaro has improved the bench and basically traded one ace for another. Not too shabby. However, the Phillies are two time defending National League Champions. They went from guppy to big fish in a mater of three years and are now one of the best franchises in the game. Expectations are much, much, much (did I say much?) higher. So what could be a deciding factor separating the Phillies from those two American League powerhouses? In a word: television.

New York is, well.........New York. The number one media market in the country- and they let everybody know it. No need to even break down the whole Yankees payroll nonsense again. It will never change and it will probably always be the highest in MLB. One of the most underlooked aspects of the Yankees ability to whore themselves is that unlike the Phillies, they have their own TV Network- The Yankees Entertainment and Sports (YES) Network. That's a revenue stream that allows them to do MANY things. Surely they can't be making money from their season ticket sales, but that's a whole other story.

Boston is quite deceiving. While clearly not as big as Philadelphia from a media market perspective (although they are in the top ten), the Boston Red Sox fan base stretches over the ENTIRE New England area (Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont and Maine). The Red Sox even had a "Rhode Island Day" at Fenway Park in 2007. So while Philadelphia is overall the bigger market, not many baseball teams have a fan base that practically stretches over six states. Like the Yankees, the Red Sox own almost 100% percent of the New England Sports Network.  As a result, their 2009 payroll exceeded the Phillies' by around eight million.  Chances are, you probably won't see the Fightins having any chance of their own television network with Comcast running so smoothly. However, money talks. And there has been plenty of it going around the last several seasons regarding the Phillies. Their own network would help allow them to not only increase revenue, but almost certainly help secure long term deals for Ryan Howard and even Lee when the opportunity would have presented itself after 2010.

Bottom line is, if you play like the big boys, you have to keep up with the big boys. Last Monday, the Phillies needed to trade their ace to make room for another. That same day, the Red Sox added another ace. Are we spoiled as Phillies fans? Absolutely. That's what happens when you watch the likes of Jackie Gutierrez and Jerry Spradlin for decades- in person. There's been enough bad baseball in this town to where we know when things are good. This glory era will not last forever. Will the 2010 Phillies be competitive? If all goes according to plan, absolutely.

Competitive enough? We shall see............

 

Amaro photo: http://media.lehighvalleylive.com/sports_impact/photo/ruben-amaro-jr-84abedf442b9f8cb_large.jpg

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