Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Ever since the Phillies went to their second straight World Series in 2009 and played the New York Yankees, the two teams have been linked.
That was the year the Phils became a baseball power, a big-spending, highly successful franchise that expected nothing less than a World Series appearance as well as championships until the cows came home.
And now, at the dawn of the 2013 season, the similarities between the two franchises remains as obvious as ever.
Both teams have high payrolls, yet both declined to make a big splash in free agency or the trade market this winter, something out of character for both franchises. The Phils were content to trade for Ben Revere and Michael Young and sign bullpen pieces Mike Adams, Chad Durbin and outfielder Delmon Young to cheap free agent contracts. The biggest names the Yankees signed were third baseman Kevin Youkilis and DH Travis Hafner.
Both teams are dealing with the consequences of aging players.
Both teams are dealing with lowered expectations, much of that due to the improvement of other teams in their divisions (Blue Jays and Orioles in the AL East, Nationals and Braves in the NL East).
Both teams have a cornerstone player signed to a long-term contract that both sides probably wish they had never agreed to. Obviously, Alex Rodriguez‘ deal, which has him being paid another $114 million through his 41st birthday, all while he’s due to miss half the season following hip surgery and being dogged by yet another round of PED allegations, is MUCH, MUCH worse than the four years and at least $105 million due Ryan Howard through his 37th birthday.
Both teams have had to deal with the PED issue this offseason, though. The Yanks have had the headache of the A-Rod allegations, while Carlos Ruiz, the last person anyone would suspect of doing anything illegal, is suspended for the first 25 games of the season after being caught using Adderall for a second time.
Both teams have franchise second basemen who could be free agents at the end of the year. Robinson Cano and New York have talked vaguely about a contract extension, but it seems likely Cano will test the market, where he could land a contract in the neighborhood of $150-175 million. The Phillies certainly want to wait and see if Chase Utley is going to come out of the gate healthy and productive, and if he does, re-signing him should cost much less than Cano, if both sides agree they want to lock him up for the rest of his career. Otherwise, both Utley and Cano could be on the market at the same time next year.
Both teams have a lame duck manager heading into the 2013 season. Both managers have won a title (Charlie in ’08 and Joe Girardi in ’09) and both have had to endure questions about their futures. A good season by both teams could mean both men will be in line for extensions, but with Ryne Sandberg waiting in the wings in Philly, it seems as though Joe’s job prospects with his current team are a bit better than Manuel’s.
But perhaps most importantly…
Clearly these two franchises are joined at the… um… well… let’s just say “hip.”
Those are some overwhelming similarities, y’all. So much so, it might even qualify as “cosmic,” or “strange as hell.”
Both franchises are still relevant, but not at the top of the heap. Both are struggling to climb that mountain once again in 2013, but face an uphill climb.
And, they both sell thongs.