Word on the street, and by street I mean Jayson Stark’s twitter feed, is that the Phillies are preparing a big offer for Cole Hamels. So does this mean the Phillies aren’t selling? Not necessarily. It seems to me that the Phillies realize that going forward without Cole Hamels would be a risk considering the red flags that have popped up in the Halladay and Lee camps this year. Perhaps the Phillies have learned their lesson in regard to counting on players in their mid-thirties? At least a little bit? That’s probably not the case either. What I think the Phillies have realized is that they have to figure out a way to be contenders again, because if they don’t the revenue streams that sustained this model are going to collapse.
The Phillies can’t afford to finish near the bottom of the league when they have this much money committed to long-term contracts. The tickets for this year are sold, but what about next year? What about the year after if the team struggles through 2013 like it has struggled through 2012? I guarantee they aren’t going to sell 3 million seats. Not even close. Also, with a new TV deal on the horizon, it’s not a great time to experience a dip in the ratings.
A two, or three-year plan where the Phils shed some payroll, get younger and gain some flexibility might be the best direction for the franchise, but those plans don’t always work. What if the prospects the Phillies trade for don’t develop? What if they can’t lure the free agents they desire? To me, the Phillies appear to be perpetually stuck in win now mode. If that’s the case, Hamels must stay, and they figure out the rest later.
Hamels staying doesn’t mean that Shane Victorino won’t be moved, or even Hunter Pence. I’m fairly sure the Phillies want a different mix of players for next year. Something has to change–even if everyone comes back healthy. I’m also fairly sure that the mix of new players will be just as, if not more expensive. For now there will be lip service about staying under the luxury tax, but there’s a decent chance the owners have already decided to blow past that mark in 2013. They could see it as an investment toward continuing the sellout streak and maxing that next TV contract.
In some ways this should be comforting for Phillies’ fans, because we’ve always perceived the luxury tax threshold as the team’s salary cap. That’s where all this inflexibility comes from. If that mark is erased, maybe there is money to sign Hamels and an outfielder to replace Victorino, or a 3rd baseman. If Ruben is going to try to spend his way out of this hole, maybe that’s the best thing, because a) it’s not our money and b) spending money is what he does best.
If the Phillies are committed to another payroll increase in 2013, it could be good news for Charlie Manuel. The Phillies have been trying to save some money here and there and maxing out the salary on the field could mean staying strictly on budget in other areas. It’s hard to imagine them paying Manuel (his reported) 3-4 million next year to not manage the team and then paying another manager to come in and do the job. Even though Ryne Sandberg would be a 1st time manager, it’s hard to imagine he’d come aboard for less than a million dollars. What difference does a million dollars make? Well, the Phillies have shown they splurge in some areas and are frugal in others. Sign Cliff Lee, dump Wilson Valdez to save 1/2 a million, for example.
Going to send everyone off on what is hopefully a bit of a light note. I was at the mall yesterday. Sometimes you have to get out and mix with the people. I mostly strolled, fought the urge to impulse buy at Sur la Table…the usual. If you must know, there was a sale on boxers at Brooks Brothers. That’s what I was doing there, but I decided to hit a few more spots. On my way out, a quick lap through Bloomingdales. I was looking at the Polo Olympic collection when I glanced to my left and saw a woman bending down to flip through some clothes on the bottom level of a display table. There was a sales associate standing above her.
It was the look on the associate’s face that caught my attention. I extended my fleeting glance and noticed that a large portion, I’m going to say 35% of the crouching woman’s ass was hanging out of her pants. This was not a situation where you said, “Wait, did I just see butt crack?” It was clear. Flagrant. Public nudity. The rump was not covered with what you’d call…underpants. At this point I looked away, because it was wildly uncomfortable but the sales associate was frozen. In fear? Wonder?
My question is, is it your responsibility to contain your own ass in your pants, or is it the bystander’s responsibility to look away? We live in a low rise world, who has to make the adjustments?