In light of the team’s announcement that they have sold over 3 million tickets, why were they so inflexible with payroll this offseason?
Here are the gaudy numbers: Season ticket sales have reached a franchise high of 28,500 and will be capped at 28,750. Individual tickets are going to be hard to come by for casual fans who haven't planned ahead. The days of swinging by the park for cheap seats to a weeknight game against the Padres have ended. The spontaneous type would be better off driving across the bridge to Campbell's Field to watch the RiverSharks in Camden. The overall number of tickets sold is expected to go over 3.1 million. According to a report in The Wall Street Journal (via John Finger), the average ticket price for a Phillies game was $28 two years ago. The Phils seat 43,000. Tally all the money made in concessions, luxury boxes, sponsorships, souvenirs and parking and the $9 million saved by dealing Cliff Lee to Seattle is just a drop in the bucket.
More and more, Phillies' games have morphed into ‘events,’ reserved for a different classification of fan than the group who would stoop at Citizens Bank Park for Dollar Dog Night two years ago. Yet the Phillies still adopt some small-time tendencies. The Phillies boast about their generosity in extending guys like Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz and Joe Blanton, but it’s really a matter of staying consistent by compensating their championship core evenly. They’ll crow about the rising cost of players like Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels, and espouse caution in discussing Jayson Werth’s future. They’ll trade for Roy Halladay, but not without nickel-and-diming Toronto out of $6 million. They’ll prioritize economic options like Juan Castro and Jose Contreras.
If this is ownership’s mandate, so be it. Ruben Amaro and his team must play with the hand they're dealt. But at the very, very least, the Phillies have no excuse not to tender a nice, brassy offer to Werth while grooming Domonic Brown as Raul Ibanez’s eventual replacement in two years. This makes perfectly sound fiscal, and baseball, sense.