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January 07, 2019

Angelo Cataldi: The Phillies 'made the rules, it’s time to get stupid.'

Opinion Phillies
120918_Harper_usat Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

Free agent outfielder Bryce Harper.

The Phillies are having an excellent off-season so far, but they are delusional if they think fans will be satisfied with neither Bryce Harper nor Manny Machado on the roster when spring training opens next month.

Hey, they made the rules here when owner John Middleton said he was ready to be “a little bit stupid” with how he would spend his billions this winter. So far, GM Matt Klentak hasn’t been stupid at all, as evidenced last week with his below-market signing of top reliever David Robertson to a two-year, $23-million deal.

Add Robertson to new shortstop Jean Segura and outfielder Andrew McCutcheon, and there’s no question the Phillies already have a deeper bullpen and a much better lineup than last season’s 80-82 team. Bravo.

Unfortunately for Klentak and president Andy MacPhail, perception is reality, and the owner announced months ago that the Phils are swinging for the fences this off-season. Robertson, Segura and McCutcheon all represent solid doubles, but they will not be enough to accomplish the home run that the organization needs most right now.

The last time anyone in the front office addressed the possibility of an off-season without signing Harper or Machado was MacPhail’s obvious attempt last month to weasel out of the pressure caused by Middleton’s boast. Like most recent public displays by the reclusive president, he failed miserably.

"If you talked to John, while he did say that we could be spending a little bit stupid, he also went to great lengths to say that one of those two signings were not going to be a prerequisite for a successful offseason," MacPhail told MLB.com. "You can have a very successful offseason and not include either one of those [players].”

Yeah, sure. Does MacPhail think he’s still working in Minnesota or Baltimore? Does he actually believe Phillies fans will settle for a couple of hamburgers when filet mignon is on the menu? Is he so clueless that he thinks the customers will be fine with Machado playing 100 miles north in New York, or Harper heading 100 miles south back to D.C.?

The Phillies have to win one of the two biggest prizes in free agency. Either they will have to overpay by tens of millions for or they will have to inflate the ego of super-agent Scott Boras with an offer to Harper that the young slugger cannot refuse.

Failure is simply not an option here. The Phillies need to know that right now. They made the rules. It’s time to get stupid.

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