Just a few years ago, fans were questioning the team's desire to win. Scott Rolen and Curt Schilling did the same.
It wasn't until the Phillies signed Jim Thome, Billy Wagner, and Kevin Millwood (excuse me, mouth vomit) that fans started to realize the team was serious… or that they at least wanted to fill the seats in their beautiful, new natural grass ballpark.
Even then, we were fooled into thinking that the signing of two aging stars and spineless, wannabe ace were the keys to winning a championship.
We quickly realized that the cast of underachievers surrounding those "A-" players wasn't nearly good enough. Bobby Abreu, Mike Lieberthal, Randy Wolf, and yes even Pat the Bat were all offenders, but fans reveled in the "we're not the Yankees", little engine that might role.
Then something happened in the open air of Citizen's Bank Park. A star emerged in Ryan Howard, Chase Utley became the man, and an ace waited in the wings in Cole Hamels. The Phillies realized it was time to let go of the underachievers. Howard and Utley became starters, Hamels was called up.
Then, they just got silly.
Need a better closer, enter Brad Lidge.
Need another right handed bat, enter Jayson Werth.
Need a catcher to manage the staff, enter one Chooch.
They finished it off with the timely, trade deadline acquisition of Joe Blanton, who didn't lose a game in the second half of 2008.
Result? World Fucking Champions.
Now, Ruben is at the helm, and since taking over he has been nothing short of shrewd.
In the last nine months, he has traded for THREE former Cy Young Award winners in Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez, and Roy Halladay. He reloaded the third base position by acquiring Placido Polanco, the only other member of that 2004 team who could have been considered a winner, and now he has outdone himself by signing Ryan Howard to a $25 million a year contract. Only Alex Rodriguez has ever made that much playing this game, in like, the history of the world.
Maybe shrewd is not even the right word. A couple years ago the Phillies were shrewd, making clever acquisitions of under the radar players like Blanton and Werth.
Now they're bullies.
They want the best pitcher on the planet. Can't get him? That's fine, borrow Cliff Lee for one of the best postseason performances of all-time and then trade him away to acquire the aforementioned first option. Then they pulled Pedro Martinez, the self proclaimed most influential player to ever play in Yankee Stadium, out from under a mango tree to pitch in the World Series. Our window is closing? Here, let Ruben open it by signing "The Big Piece" to a $125 million contract.
The Phillies are starting to rival the Yankees and the Red Sox in terms of "f you, rest of the league" type moves. The World Championship wasn't a fluke, it was calculated. The next? Well, that will be part calculated, part purchased. Either way, it will come.
Yeah, shrewd isn't the word. Maybe the word is gangsta. And you know what? I like it.