Interestingly, the championship series features four teams that are on the way up (again) as the Phillies turn the page as the proverbial window of opportunity has closed. Now that the most successful era of Phillies’ baseball is pretty much over, it’s fair to assess how it measured up against other franchises.
What’s has been a great run for the Phillies has just been another decade for teams like the Cardinals and Red Sox.
Since the Phillies finally broke through and got to the playoffs in 2007, 17 teams have appeared in the postseason more than once. The Red Sox, Cardinals and Rays have been to the playoffs four times since ’07 while the Dodgers and Tigers have been in it three times. In that span, only the Phillies and Yankees have been in the playoffs more than the Rays, Sox and Cards.
But that’s only since ’07. Going back to 2002, the Cardinals have been to the playoffs seven times and won the World Series twice. Since 2003, the Red Sox also have seven postseason appearances and two titles and the Yankees have been in it nine times with one World Series ring.
What we need to figure out is how those other teams can slip out of the playoffs for one year, regroup and then make another long run for four or five straight years. How can the Phillies turn a golden era into the norm like the elite franchises?
Does it start with reshuffling the roster?
Five players that were on the Phillies roster in 2007 are still the core players of the 2013 club. The Red Sox also have five players remaining from the 2007 title team, but three of those guys—Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz—appeared in 49 combined games and none of them were over the age of 23.
The Cardinals only have two players remaining from the 2007 team in Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina and both of those guys were All-Stars this year. Wainwright led the National League in wins and innings and Molina batted .319 and caught 131 games.
The Cardinals also have sprinkled in young players from the system, too. The 2007, 2008 and 2009 first-round draft picks all make significant contributions to the team and the 2010 first-round pick was used to acquire Matt Holliday. The 2012 first-round pick, Michael Wacha, will start Game 2 of the NLCS. Joe Kelly, the third-round pick of the 2009 draft, will start Game 1.
The last first-round pick to play in the majors for the Phillies was lefty reliever Joe Savery and none of the team’s first-round picks since 2008 have advanced past Double-A Reading.
In fact, the last second-round pick to appear in more than 12 games for the Phillies was Randy Wolf from the 1997 draft and only one second-round pick going back to 2006 has made it past Double-A. That guy, Anthony Gose, has been in the Blue Jays’ organization since 2010. The Phillies used him to get Roy Oswalt.
Yeah, there is a trend here. There isn’t a trick to the sustainability the Cardinals have achieved unless getting smarter is the trick.