This NY Daily News story contends that the Phils are fixated on the three free agents that they are pursuing. The article theorizes that the Mets will end up losing to the Phils in the Tom Glavine turkey rival. It also quotes one baseball exec, who seems to think the Phils have gone stark raving mad:
"No one knows how to respond where the Phillies are involved...They seem ready to go to great lengths to sign the people they think they need."
I think that all of the Phils' transactions have to be viewed with a few things in mind. A) The Phils move into a new stadium in 2004. B) The Rolen fiasco was a rather large black eye for the team and drove away fans when the team was in need of garnering local support to begun with. C) The Phils have been making money hand-over-fist in the revenue sharing deal mostly because of... And D) the Phils have had only modest forays into free agency since some poor signees blew up in their faces in the '90s. Their management has acted as a small-market team for years.
So every action that they take is to dig them out of the hole that they have created over the last 20 years. They must win back the fans to benefit from the windfall they will have in the new stadium. Seeking out high-profile free agents is the cheapest and fastest way to rectify the situation. It's disingenuous and will kill the team in four years, but the team doesn't care if it gets fannies in the seats in the next two years.
Bell was a bit prohibitive, but $4.25 M per year is not that expensive if he turns out to be another Mikeirillo. Rey Ordonez was given $6.25 for 2003 by the Mets for heaven's sake. It is a bit more glaring a sum in these austere times, but with the Phils' Jack Benny-like frugality their coffers are teeming.
Of course, as they pursue these free agents to the exclusion of all others-Why not pursue Alfonzo as well as Bell? Moyer and Maddux as well as Glavine-they drive up their price and tick off the other owners. They also in the process make up some questionable deals. Time will tell, how bad they may be, but the results may be registered on the balance sheet and not the field.