The Curse of the Phillies BIG Contracts and Renewals

April 28th, 2013 by Emily Phung | Filed under Baseball, General, Phillies.

contractext

by Emily Phung

I have always been an avid Philadelphia sports fan, but my frustration began in 2000 when I could not understand why the Philly teams were not winning any games especially the Phillies. That’s when I learned about the curse of Billy Penn. The gist of the story is that when Liberty Place was built in ’87, no Philly sports team won a championship from that point forward. The theory was that the losses were associated with the William Penn statue (which is affixed on top of City Hall). The statue was no longer the tallest object in the Philly skyline. In spring 2007, I decided to take matters into my own hands (what true sports fan wouldn’t?) and try to reverse the curse by setting up an incense-filled shrine filled with all my Philly sports bobbleheads, figurines, jerseys, and autographed pictures to rid of the bad demons that this curse held. That year, the Phils won the NL East after a 14 year draught! I was over joyous so I continued burning incense and building a Philly themed sports shrine the next few years. Coincidentally, for the following 4 years, the Phils continued to clinch the NL East division with one World Series win. I honestly think that the William Penn statue atop the Comcast Center did not reverse the curse, but I did (so I may be a bit biased). 2012 was a busy year personally so I never had the opportunity to hold this annual ritual. To my dismay, the Phils did not continue their winning streak. However, one thing is certain since 2012; the Phillies players have been struggling individually after renewal or extension of a bigger contract. Is the Curse of Billy Penn back?

I honestly think it is back and behind that curse is Rubén Amaro, the general manager responsible for those Phillies contracts. Bold statement you say, well let’s break down the circumstantial evidence in regards to the curse of the Big Phillies contract (aka version of the Curse of Billy Penn). First up is Ryan Howard, the Phillies home run king. 2004 he entered into the Philadelphia scene as a young promising player. He certainly was one of the best rookies that came into the Philly scene. After ’04, Howard began to be on ‘fire’. He was Rookie of the Year in ’05. Then MVP in ’06, contributing to the Phillies World Series in ’08, but after ’10 it seems like downhill. Ironically, 2010 was the year that Howard signed his extension. A whopping $125 million contract was rewarded to Howard, which many claim is too much for a continuously injured-hampered athlete (Achilles heel to groin injuries). Howard is not as an effective power hitter as before and that may be due to his recovery from prior injuries. Amaro threw down a big contract down to keep him, and now he’s stuck with Howard for a while. Is Amaro a bit upset? One might think so since Howard hasn’t had a long of game time and that means Amaro is not getting his money’s worth. It’s unfortunate, but that is the truth at the end of the day. Howard is a great player all around, but that big payday may be haunting Amaro.

The most recent of all contracts is this past summer’s resigning of World Series MVP, Cole Hamels. He has a 6 year contract with an average of $24 million dollars. That is the second highest in baseball after Yankees’ Sabitha. Amaro definitely found a rewarding way to thank Hamels for posting up some great pitching stats during the World Series playoff games. After Hamels signed on for a few more seasons, terrible pitching started to hinder him resulting in many surrendered runs and major game losses. Can Hamels dig himself out of this pitching deficit? I believe so, because it is still early in the season. Hamels is young and still has time to rebound back to his recognizable pitching self.

Cliff Lee was the hottest pitcher at the end of baseball season 2010. The Rangers and Yankees made lucrative contract offers to tempt Cliff to join on board. However, Cliff was ‘PHaith’ful to the Phillies nation, and came back to in December ’12 with a $120 million contract thanks to Amaro. After signing his contract, Lee began swallowing his pride a little bit since he was not posting up the results as prior years. Eventually, Lee got back to his momentum, but one must wonder was he cursed just a bit by signing Amaro’s big contract.

After his contract extension in ’10, it has been somewhat a quick decline for Roy Halladay. Halladay, known as the overachieving double Cy Young winner and pitcher of the perfect game in ‘10, is not pitching like he used due to a shoulder ridden pain that occurred last year. He used to throw ‘fastballs’ and now can barely pitch faster than 90 mph. Roy even claims to be tired and worn out and admits that his strength is not where it used to be. Thankfully, other teammates such as Ruiz has been helping Halladay make some great defensive plays off the pitching mound. Halladay’s age may be showing, and Amaro has to make a decision if to keep Halladay after this season or it’s time to let him go.

Lastly, let’s talk about Jimmy Rollins, base stealer at its best. After signing his 3-year $33 million deal, J-Roll was not posting numbers like he was in prior seasons. Last year, his slugging percentage was down quite a bit even though he was putting some out, but not as comparable to when he first came into the franchise. An interesting note is that last year was the first time Rollins wins above replacement was in the negatives! This year a lot of rumors are saying that Revere will eventually replace J-Roll. It may happen since Revere has hit at least .300, and J-Roll has not done so in his career. Once again, is it the curse of another big contract? Hopefully, it’s an anomaly and J-Roll can get of this slump since he is recognized as the team leader all that brings the Phillies together at the end of the day in spirit and pride.

As much as I love my Phillies, reality sinks in that they are not the team they were during the World Series. The Phillies have lacked a bit of substance and motivation due to many injuries (fittingly so) and are trying to recapture that spirit within them to get back to where they were before. The Phils have aged and experienced quite a bit since the Series, but it may of not added value as a result as seen by their many losses this current season. Can all these new contracts and extensions written by Amaro help the Phillies become NL East Champs or lead to a World Series championship in the coming future? Only time can tell. However, it seems like Amaro may be jinxing himself by writing up such lucrative contracts, which has built a lot of high expectations from the Phillies fans as a result. If Rubén wants to join in my sports demon-warding incense ritual before contract writing, I will be glad to be his sensei. I am a team player, and I am willing to do anything to support my Phillies. I bleed ‘red’ even through the rough and trying times. Go Phillies!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.