In 2012, the Miami Marlins took a $191 million payroll into a new stadium and flopped. They finished 69-93, last place in the NL East.
The Marlins then cleaned house, and the following year lost 100 games. This season the Marlins, with a $46 million payroll at Labor Day, are 66-69, with an outside shot at a Wild Card spot. And with a young core, Miami has a good chance to seriously contend in the next two seasons.
The Phillies do not, and unless they clean house and get what they can for Cole Hamels, build the team around Maikel Franco and Darin Ruf — and, using free agency wisely, build a rotation and the farm system — or they'll be bottom dwellers for the next two seasons.
The Architect Pat Gillick is back. He has taken the interim role as president while Mr. Montgomery gets well. But red sky at morning — Gillick is also known as Stand Pat, for his reluctance to make deals.
Architect, or Stand Pat, Gillick must first be a wrecking ball. In order to do what Miami did, the Phillies have to shed salary, and that means getting rid of the core that Junior failed to do. Not last year, not this year.
If Junior and The Architect can't or won't do it this winter, loyal fans in this city will use their power of democratic participation.
They'll stay home.
In 2013, it was obvious that the Phillies were too old, too set in their ways, and too injury prone. In 2014, it is still painfully obvious that the best days for the core of this team are over.
Combined with a current payroll of nearly $178 million, there's little wiggle room to add quality players unless the wrecking ball does its job. Junior sat back and watched a championship team — backed by the undying love of its fan base that filled the park for 257 straight games — sink faster than the Titanic.
He didn't have the money is a good excuse, but who's fault is that? Too many injured players. All teams have injuries: Miami's ace, Jose Fernandez, last season's NL Rookie of the Year, had Tommy John surgery and spent most of this season on the DL.
Will The Architect be married to the present team core, like Junior and Mr. Montgomery, or, like the Philly School District, will he see the need to make drastic — if not mind boggling — cuts?
So on this Labor Day, we'll watch to see if Franco and Ruff get playing time. Twenty-six games remain. What the Phillies do with those 26 games will indicate whether or not the wrecking ball is in place.
Then, and only then, can The Architect begin his work.
Comments to: Philly@ron-costello.com (don't forget the dash)