A large payroll filled with big-name players and their impressive resumes hasn’t helped the Philadelphia Phillies win many games.
The Phillies dominated the NL East from 2007-11, winning five division titles, two pennants and one World Series. That’s a distant memory now. These Phillies are closer to getting the No. 1 draft pick in next year’s amateur draft than getting back to the postseason.
Several players scoffed during spring training when asked if the window of opportunity for this group was closing.
The organization faces a difficult task. Trying to rebuild a roster with so many high-priced players isn’t easy.
Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Cole Hamels, Carlos Ruiz and Kyle Kendrick are the remaining players from the team’s long run of success. They’re making $89.7 million this season combined.
Howard is untradeable because he’s making $25 million this year and is owed at least $60 million over the next three. Utley ($15 million) and Rollins ($11 million) have veto rights on any trade. Ruiz is 35 and in the first year of a three-year, $26 million deal. Kendrick ($7.675 million) is 1-6 with a 4.30 ERA so there’s not much of a market for him. Hamels is in the second season of a $144 million, six-year contract.
Toss in Cliff Lee ($25 million), A.J. Burnett ($15 million) and Jonathan Papelbon ($13 million) and that’s $142.7 for just nine players. The Phillies had the third-highest payroll ($184 million) on opening day.
An offense that features two former MVPs and six regulars who’ve been All-Stars is too inconsistent.
Howard, Rollins, Utley and Ruiz are having decent years and Marlon Byrd ($8 million) is producing. But the Phillies still are struggling to score. Domonic Brown isn’t hitting like a guy who was an All-Star last year. Third baseman Cody Asche is injured and center fielder Ben Revere is struggling.
Executing fundamentals has been a major issue, even though manager Ryne Sandberg stressed it during spring training.
Bench coach Larry Bowa said in a recent radio interview that the Phillies have “players here playing in the big leagues who aren’t playing like big leaguers.”