The Phillies have ducked into their winter dens lest they should suffer a pelting of misguided woulda-coulda-shouldas.
Beerleaguer: For the last week, you've probably encountered passages like this one, in this case, published by the Philadelphia Inquirer: "He (Ruben Amaro Jr.) could have signed Cody Ross for one year and $3 million, and that would have been better than the combined $3.15 million the Phillies paid for Ty Wigginton and Laynce Nix this season. For considerably less than that, the Phillies could have retained lefthanded hitting outfielder Brandon Moss, who slugged 21 home runs in 265 at-bats with Oakland."
This is a typical post-elimination exercise. Truth be told, it's more engaging than Beerleaguer's strategy of posting minor league updates, or nothing at all, since the season officially ended. There's still a tiny fire that burns for baseball in between the regular season and the start of free agency.
Figuring out who's to blame is loads of fun. Unfortunately, it isn't that simple.
It's true: the Phillies, under Ruben Amaro Jr., have boxed themselves in with big contracts, but these same big contracts didn't prevent them from winning 102 games a year ago or becoming a unanimous favorite to represent the National League in the World Series in 2012. That was, until, big injuries and underperformance set in - the two biggest factors that limited them to a break-even season.
In terms of last winter's deals, everything needs to be framed inside the bounds of the looming luxury tax (even if one argues that it's a self-imposed restriction) the prioritization of Cole Hamels, who stood to command a record sum, the critical need to plug the gaps at shortstop and closer, where high-demand free agents Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Madson left holes through free agency, and the untimely injury to Ryan Howard, leaving Amaro to scramble for not only a first baseman, but a a three-month solution at first. Who wants that job?
Howard's freak injury is part of the reason why Amaro swings a salary dump deal for Wigginton, which has been negatively skewed over the passage of time. Brandon Moss? You'd need to be clairvoyant. Between Nix, who got hurt, and left field incumbent John Mayberry Jr., who got sucked into the first base mess, you're talking about a possible platoon pairing that combined for 31 home runs in 2011. In spite of that, the Phils managed to do okay in left since Juan Pierre turned out to be one of the nicest minor league signings in recent memory.