Being involved in the playoff race in Philadelphia is something new to us. Being the favorite in the playoff race is something even rarer.
Before this current era of Phillies baseball, the Phillies were perennial losers, disappointing fans, and not being known as a top destination for free agents. Winning certainly breeds success, and with the help of a good Ed Wade built minor league system and hiring of “player’s coach” Charlie Manuel, Pat Gillick, Ruben Amaro, Jr. and Phils ownership have installed a level of pride and success that hasn’t been seen in this town since the early 1980’s.
The best part about this current group of Phillies management is not staying put. It would have been easy for Amaro to call it a day after acquiring Cy Young Winner Roy Halladay, but he pushed on, bringing in Roy Oswalt as a deadline trade, giving up flavor of the month J.A. Happ and prospects to try to bring in the then 3-headed monster with Cole Hamels and Halladay. But what’s better than 3 aces? Well, 4! Brining Cliff Lee back to the fold showed that Amaro and Phils ownership are indeed all in.
The Phillies have been close to or owned the best record in baseball for the whole 2011 season, but of course, Ruben is never satisfied. Management saw a hole in right field, with Domonic Brown learning on the job, and decided that learning on the job is only good for a team like the Marlins or Cubs. The Phillies chased down their target Hunter Pence, taking a hard line with Ed Wade and giving up a low A pitcher in Jared Cosart (read: lottery ticket) and a solid hitter in Jonathan Singleton, who is young and shown signs of being a solid hitter, but is blocked by Ryan Howard at first base.
The fact that the Phillies are not getting complacent and are willing to give up potential future major leaguers to win now is a great thing for the current roster, but more importantly the fans. The fans have shown up for 182 straight sellouts and have purchased merchandise at a record rate. The fans are slowly starting to wear away at the old moniker of the booing and throwing snowballs and Santa Claus, recently being mentioned by Halladay, Lee and Pence as some of the strongest and most passionate in the league.
With management not being satisfied with a .500 record, the fans have a lot to cheer about over the next few years. It’s nice to be behind a team that is doing everything they can to improve and win now.