- FanGraphs Baseball - http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs -

Organizational Rankings: #14

One quick note before we get to the next report – due to the Nationals inexplicable decision to release Shawn Hill yesterday, they’ve been dropped a spot on the list. They now rank #31, and we’ve promoted the North Carolina Tar Heels to the #30 spot. At least they have a few quality big league players and aren’t run by consulting the magic 8 ball.

Today, we keep looking at some teams that have legitimate hope, so it gets harder from here on out. And, for those of you who haven’t seen the previous parts (which are linked below), keep in mind that this is a forward looking exercise – we are evaluating clubs on their overall ability to contend for a World Series title in the future. We are not evaluating how they have performed historically. This is about the health of each organization going forward.

Rankings So Far

#30: Washington Nationals
#29: Florida Marlins
#28: Houston Astros
#27: Kansas City Royals
#26: Pittsburgh Pirates
#25: San Diego Padres
#24: Cincinnati Reds
#23: Colorado Rockies
#22: Detroit Tigers
#21: St. Louis Cardinals
#20: Toronto Blue Jays
#19: San Francisco Giants
#18: Minnesota Twins
#17: Chicago White Sox
#16: Baltimore Orioles
#15: Seattle Mariners

#14: Philadelphia Phillies

Ownership: A

The Phillies ownership group is most notable for their absence. When a Philadelphia magazine did a story on the investors in the group, they actually hired a private investigator to help them obtain photos, since none existed in the public domain. It doesn’t get much more silent partner than this group, who have stayed in the background, funded the team, and basically kept to themselves. With a new stadium and coming off a World Series title, the ownership agreed to be one of the few MLB teams to increase the budget for the ’09 season, and they’ve continually been in the top level of payroll for the last five years. Well capitalized, no interference from upper management, a new ballpark, a big market… tough to ask for much more.

Front Office: C

While Pat Gillick was no fan of the movement towards statistical analysis in baseball, in a lot of ways, he valued the same things they do but just used a different path to get there. He consistently paid for quality defense, patient hitters, and premium up the middle talent. So, while he eschewed modern advances in analytics, he also put together good teams that could win in the short term. Ruben Amaro, however, looks to be a combination of most of the bad and not that much of the good. He shares Gillick’s distrust of modern baseball analysis, but lacks the good qualities that allowed Gillick to succeed. In addition, the promotion of Amaro drove talented scout Mike Arbuckle from the organization, which is a significant blow to the team’s brain trust.

Major League Talent: B+

I can hear the screams now – the defending World Champs get a B+? The horror. Unfortunately for Phillies fans, their championship run was fueled by performances that we simply can’t expect to be repeated. I like Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino as much as the next guy, but you’re not getting +9.5 wins from those two again. Pat Burrell‘s been replaced by the inferior Raul Ibanez. Jimmy Rollins UZR was higher last year than in the previous two seasons put together. Brad Lidge isn’t perfect. Chase Utley is headed for his decline phase and battling hip problems. There’s just a lot of places on this team to expect regression, and while they should still be a contender for 2009, they have some issues that didn’t get addressed this winter.

Minor League Talent: B-

This is an interesting collection of talent. Carlos Carrasco is a good arm with a plus change-up, but inconsistent results and some health questions. Dominic Brown is an extremely athletic, high upside outfielder, but there are questions about his power and whether he can stick in CF. Michael Taylor is a beast of a man who can hit the tar out of a baseball, but his approach isn’t good and his defense is worse, and that skillset has huge bust potential. Kyle Drabek had a good arm before TJ surgery. Lou Marson and Jason Donald are more nifty depth than potential starters. There’s not a sure thing in the bunch, but lots of intriguing upside and very happy best case scenarios.

Overall: B-

Pat Gillick has a long history of leaving franchises in ruins when he walks away. He didn’t destroy the Phillies in the same way that he did the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Mariners, but he left enough holes to patch that Ruben Amaro is going to have to be an extremely quick learner in order to keep the team a perennial contender. He has the funds to compete, but I’m skeptical that he’s going to know which players are worth spending money on. If the farm system doesn’t produce a couple of high quality players in the next year or two, the Phillies age will catch up them very quickly.