The Phillies Wanted To Be The Astros (their "tanking to WS" Mentor)

Enjoyed this article focusing on the phillies uneven journey from tanking to the WS. The writer explained that high draft picks alone are not enough, there are other “ingredients”…

The 2022 Phillies have already beaten the Astros in one stat. They are 4th, while the Astros are 10th.

One of the numerous links focused on a (correct) 2018 “tankfest” projection of up to 8 teams heading for a 90+ loss season; two others came close - SF and Toronto - with 89. This article compared the YTD 2018 Astros and Cubs approach.

Nine 2022 teams lost 90+, while three others came close - Angels, 89; D’Backs & Cubs, 88. Wondering how many are “trying to compete” & how many are actually “rebuilding”.

Enjoying the embedded links!

I didn’t click on that article but I wonder if there was any mention of the fact that the Phillies total active team payroll is $245,270,741 compared to the Astros $190,796,312?

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I’ve always bristled at the notion of the Astros “tanking it” to the W.S.

When the Selig forced marched the Astros into the A.L. they were a terrible team with a terrible farm system. They had one (maybe) star in Hunter Pence and they traded him, but they weren’t going to be competitive, even with three Hunter Pences. They didn’t have to try to lose games, it came quite naturally.

“Tanking” implies intentionally setting yourself up to lose. By the time Crane, Luhnow and co took over, they had no choice. The rebuild should have really started after 08 but they tried to hang on and made a bunch of really stupid moves that cratered the franchise by 2011.


I think the “tanking” perception comes not so much from the pieces they sold off, but making no attempt to sign mediocre free agents that would have moved them from a 55 win team to a 50 win team.


Putting a patently mediocre team together so you can sniff the wildcard race to fill a few seats in September is a worse sin than committing to a rebuild.

Anyone disagreeing will have to speak up if they want to be heard over the sound of four pennants flapping in the breeze.


The 1st article referenced it w/ a link to the 2014 Salary stats:

…Philadelphia knew it also had the salary budget to complement the farm products (ranked #6 in 2014) later on, having run up MLB’s third-highest payroll as recently as 2014.

The 2014 Astros PR ($44.7m) barely beat the Marlins PR by $2+ mil ($42.4m), finishing next to last.

Btw, comparing the 2022 payrolls, the Phillies ($209.5m) rank #4 behind the Dodgers, Yanks, & Mets, w/ the Astros #10 w/ $164.8m.

The “Tankfest” article (linked earlier) offered a much more palatable, plausible explanation and description:

…(the Astros & Cubs served) as two proofs of the idea that a controlled franchise demolition can help pave the way for 100-win seasons and October parades.

@AstrosFanInBigD In addition, the era of owners and fans being content with a ball club that’s merely respectable is seemingly over; if you’re not contending for a championship, the thinking goes, you may as well not even try to win at all.

Interesting article. Thanks for sharing, Snuffy. My main memories of the “Tanking”: I was General Manager of a group of radio stations in Amarillo in 2013-2014. Our AM sports station didn’t have a great signal, so I could pretty much do what I wanted to with the mostly satellite programming. (Obviously our ownership wasn’t worried too much about revenue on that station) Being an Astros fan, I signed up to be an affiliate those two years. I probably listened more in 2013 than watched on TV. My lasting memory (Besides the fact it was a rebuilding team) was the Astros could absolutely not hold a lead. Not that it mattered, but I remember counting about 10-15 games that with just an average closer or set up guy the Astros could have won those games. Then I thought, who cares! 60 wins instead of 51! I never considered it tanking: Just not paying any money for a closer when it didn’t matter. Better days were obviously ahead!


Glad you enjoyed the article, Jim. Thanks for sharing. One of the things I love about OWA is the diversity of backgrounds and experiences. What are you doing now, still in media?

I remember marveling that a pitcher could throw a no-hitter and STILL LOSE! Ken Johnson taught me that. Also remember seeing Joe Morgan becoming an all star as a Red…

Grateful to see the good guys playing in the last baseball games of 2022!

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Btw, posted this in the WS thread, SI - a detailed article - didn’t “buy” the theory of the Phillies using the same rebuilding approach as the Astros.

(Caption under lead pic at top of article)
The Phillies signed Bryce Harper three weeks after trading for J.T. Realmuto in 2019. The two moves marked the end of their attempted tank-and-rebuild.