By Dylan MacKinnon
On first view you would say the Dodgers trading for Max Scherzer and Trea Turner has absolutely nothing to do with the Phillies. But I say this move says everything about why the Dodgers are one of the winningest organizations in MLB history, and the Phillies are the losingest. If the Phillies fail to make the playoffs this season it will have been a decade since they did so.
And it’s not because the Dodgers had the stones to push all in and make a move this big, though that is a factor. It is because even after all the winning the Dodgers have done, they still have a farm system. Even after all the big trades the Dodgers have made for the likes of Mookie Betts, Manny Machado, Yu Darvish, and several other smaller moves even like for Brian Dozier, John Axford, Homer Bailey, Russell Martin, Jedd Gyorko, and recently Danny Duffy. The Dodgers are a team that constantly turns prospects into veterans and often Superstars. And yet they still had a better farm system than the Phillies.
This is what good teams do. Good teams constantly restock their farm system, even if the players they develop will never play for them. The Yankees do the same thing, as do the Red Sox. The Rays too, though they don’t usually flip them for established stars. Pretty much all teams that are perennial winners consistently have a great farm system. The Phillies meanwhile have had 8 homegrown players make the All-Star Game in the last decade. They have 0 homegrown players that have made two All-Star games.
The good thing about being bad is it usually means you can get high picks and get great players. The Phillies had 5 top 10 picks between 2014 and 2018. Two of them are currently starters for the Phillies, Alec Bohm, and Aaron Nola. Their success is a matter of debate. Then there is Mickey Moniak who is out of the top 10 Phillies prospects, and unable to hit in the MLB.
After that, there Adam Haseley and Cornelius Randolf. Haseley has barely played, and when he has the results have been very poor. Randolf is off all lists ranking Phillies prospects because in 6 seasons he has hit only 35 hrs, despite being billed as a power hitter when drafted. And they haven’t traded away many prospects either. In recent years the big moves have been Sixto Sanchez and JP Crawford. Other than that, they have held onto most of their prospects.
The Dodgers have more to show in their farm system from a decade of winning than the Phillies do from a decade of losing. Before this trade, they had 3 top 100 Prospects, while the Phillies had 2. For the time being, the Phillies have more, but there is little doubt that the Dodgers will soon be ahead once more because that has been the case for the last decade.
You can not be a winning team and be unable to acquire talent through the draft. That talent does not have to actually ever play for you, but having a robust farm system allows you to add veteran talent when you need it. The Phillies have a ton of needs. They need multiple starting pitchers. Then they need a center fielder. They will need a left fielder after this year. Then they need a long-term option at 3rd base unless they want to put up with Alec Bohm’s terrible defense at 3rd. They have two highly regarded prospects, Mick Abel, and Bryson Stott. Even if both pan out, that does not fix the problems they have.
So how are the Phillies going to fix their roster? They don’t have the pieces to make a big trade like the Dodgers did. Nor do they have the pieces to round out their roster with young prospects like the Rays often do. The only way to fix this is with free-agent signings, which is the most unreliable way to fill out a roster.
This is why I think this Dodgers trade exemplifies why the Phillies lose so much. The Dodgers are constantly restocking their cupboards. The Phillies pantry meanwhile is mostly empty and has been for a decade. So say thank you to Matt Klentak Phillies fans. He is the main reason the Phillies farm system is so terrible.