COMMENTARY | A quick glance around Major League Baseball, and it is clear which teams are doing things the right way and which are not.
The Philadelphia Phillies, they do it wrong. The one championship they have had in modern times was built mostly on younger homegrown talent along with a few missing pieces added only when necessary.
The recipe for a World Series is not always so simple. Teams have had success doing what the Phillies seem to do now -- buying a championship primarily through free agency. This strategy, however, seems to backfire a lot more than not.
Currently, the game plan the Phillies have for winning involves a panic switch. Moves are made fast without thinking it through. Instead of playing chess, the team has tried to play a quick game of checkers where all of the pieces are the same, old and expensive.
A closer look around the league, and it is easy to assess which teams are able to do it right. From different viewpoints and with different immediate goals in mind, the Phillies can learn a little from these three teams:
The Texas Rangers are one of the best run organizations in baseball. They consistently put a good team on the field, and they do it without focusing on one particular aspect of the game. The team is well-rounded and can beat you 1-0 or 12-10.
What I admire most about the Rangers is how they always seem to have a younger player ready to get the call to the big leagues. The two recent ones have been infielders Jurickson Profar and Mike Olt.
Talented pitchers have also come through the system recently. Tanner Scheppers had a phenomenal year in 2013 out of the bullpen, and Robbie Ross is an overlooked left-handed relief pitcher any team would love to have.
In addition to the young stars, the team has plenty of veteran talent. Adrian Beltre will return from last season with two new additions to get fans excited -- Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo. The team did lose Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz, but already has replaced them thanks to a high supply in the minor league system.
From leadoff to No. 9, the Rangers have a lineup of major league hitters. Their pitching staff is deep, too, beginning with ace Yu Darvish.
The Phillies will open at the Rangers in 2014. If they are smart, this will not be like any normal opening day. They will use that opportunity to realize early on what a real contender looks like.
Since 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals have been to the World Series twice, winning one. They are certainly not a dynasty, but they are still a team the Phillies should pay attention to.
The championship year for the Cardinals in 2011 was the same season they knocked the Phillies out of the first round of the playoffs. That year, the Cardinals were not a favorite. Sure, they had plenty of talent, both young and old. The real reason they were able to finish the season with a parade was because of the chemistry.
Freese played in less than 100 games during the regular season. Manager Tony LaRussa was sure to reward him in the postseason because he knew his bat was hot. In total, Freese hit 5 home runs during the 2011 postseason with 21 RBIs, earning him the NLCS and World Series MVP Awards.
Only a year between World Series appearances, the Cardinals saw themselves back to playing late-October baseball in 2013. The team had already changed drastically in that short time period. Pujols was gone and replaced with a young Allen Craig. Matt Carpenter was given the chance to shine during the regular season, earning a spot at the team's leadoff hitter.
Even the manager was new in 2012. Now managed by Mike Matheny, the Cardinals have become a team knowledgeable enough to know when to get rid of players past their prime (Pujols and Berkman) and when to call up major league-ready talent (Craig and Carpenter). The team also had some luck with Shelby Miller and Lance Lynn, both of whom won 15 games in 2013.
The Cardinals are a team that takes risks and, while at the same time, remain smart enough to know which ones to take. They were able to let Pujols leave because they had others to replace him. This is as much a testament to the way the Cardinals scout players as it is to how the Phillies are unable to.
The defending champion Boston Red Sox are different from the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals. The Red Sox did not use youth to win. The Red Sox managed to surprise everyone in 2013 because they got the right players through free agency.
In order to understand the success the Red Sox had in 2013, one has to remember how they dumped Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers for scraps. This was primarily a salary dump, in part to send a message that the team was ready for a change. The trade occurred in late August 2012, after all players cleared waivers; a little over a year later and after everyone doubted them, the Red Sox were champions.
Generally, the 2013 Red Sox had the same core, which oddly matches up well with the Phillies'. David Ortiz is Ryan Howard, Dustin Pedroia is Chase Utley and Jon Lester is Cliff Lee/Cole Hamels. The biggest difference is the surrounding new editions the team brought in.
For 2013, the Red Sox added Mike Napoli and former Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino before the season began. The team also brought in Jake Peavy midseason to fill a need at starting pitcher, a move similar to many the Phillies have done in seasons where they were contenders.
The combination of additions for 2013 and subtractions from 2012 were two the reasons why Boston hoisted a trophy last October. Imagine if the Phillies were able to be so adventurous as to try something new.
Tim Boyle is a lifelong and loyal Philadelphia sports follower who enjoys writing about his favorite teams and discovering unique statistical facts.
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