Ron Costello

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The  2011 Phillies won a 102 games, a franchise record with the Four Aces: Halladay, Lee, Hamels, and Oswalt. Considered the best four starting pitchers in either league and hailed by some as the best four-man rotation in baseball history.
The Faithful will love Bryce Harper.

What I remember about that season is that you couldn't go anywhere in the city without seeing Phillies hats, red t-shirts, and game jerseys with names on the back like Howard, Utley, Rollins, Halladay, Lee, and Hamels. They were everywhere.

In my lifetime I had never witnessed Philadelphia so excited about the Phillies. 
And it can happen again. Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. It will come down to which team has the most money to spend and isn't afraid to spend it. 

This season the Angels Mike Trout will be paid $33.25 million. The Dodgers Clayton Kershaw $33 million, and Boston's David Price $30 million. They are the highest paid players in the game.
Manny Machado's bat in the Phillies lineup.

But by Christmas, a new bar may be set, with the most significant free agent class in baseball history on the market. The Phillies and Atlanta surprised everyone by their climb to the top, but if they don't add top free agents in 2019, they won't — and they can't — compete.

They are just not good enough.

Look no further than the Boston Red Sox, the best team in baseball with a .705 winning percentage. The Red Sox wouldn't be the best team if it hadn't put together a combination of youth within the organization — Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Jackie Bradley, Jr. — and free agents. 

Boston's J.D. Martinez, five years, $110 million; left-hander David Price, seven years, $217 million; and right-hander Rick Porcello, four years, $82.5 million, and several others.

The Phillies have no more excuses. With a low payroll and most of their young players' club controlled — three-four years away from free agency — and after investing that Comcast and Comcast SportsNet money, the team has no choice but to spend.

And spend means Mr. Harper and Mr. Machado. Or, at least one of them if not both.

And it won't be easy. The free agent sharks will be after them, as well: the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, and Dodgers, to name a few. Atlanta will need free agents, too, and with a low payroll, can also spend big.

For the first time in years, Atlanta and the Phillies have tasted the blood of winning. That has to push them to be competitive in the 2019 free agent market.

Anything less will be a snub to the Faithful and the young players on the roster. Anything less will send a message that the Phillies are more interested in its television revenue than its fanbase.

The Phillies rotation and bullpen can be improved, too, but
Machado and Harper and sold out CBK.
they're close — closer than Atlanta is with its rotation and bullpen.

Harper and Machado. Like Halladay and Lee, would excite this city, return CBP to sellout crowds, and move Phillies baseball back on top.

Can you picture opening day with Aaron Nola on the mound and Machado at short and Harper in right, hitting third and fourth?

Harper and Machado.

Say their names. Get familiar with them. They'll be here soon.

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