Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis
John Middleton
SAN DIEGO -- Phillies owner John Middleton made a comment roughly four years ago that will forever live in Philadelphia sports lure. 

"We're going into this expecting to spend money and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it," Middleton told USA Today Sports in November 2018. 

Middleton was ridiculed a bit for that comment, but weeks later went out and signed Bryce Harper to a massive 13-year deal for $330 million. He then spent roughly $410 million over the next three years on Zack Wheeler, J.T. Realmuto, Nick Castellanos, and Kyle Schwarber. 

Middleton added to that haul on Monday, signing Trea Turner to an 11-year deal worth $300 million. Combined, Middleton has allocated north of $1 billion on six contracts. 

Does that qualify as stupid money? 

Perhaps, but it also shows a willingness to build a contender. 

Along with Turner, the Phillies did some additional shopping at the Winter Meetings and added a mid-rotation starter in Taijuan Walker and a reliever in Matt Strahm. Middleton is committed to paying a combined $387 million for the trio. 

It was a wild 48-hour span, but it reinforced the willingness of ownership to bring a World Series winner back to Philadelphia. 

Middleton's investment in the franchise beyond the product on the field also needs to be recognized. Spending cash on players alone does not necessarily equate to winning a title. The proliferation of analytics, the emphasis on nutrition and health, and the need for a robust scouting department have become prerequisites for World Series contention. 

The Phillies were the last club in baseball to invest in analytics. As recent as 2014, the organization had a shoestring budget allotted to research and development with one full-time employee and an intern. Middleton recognized this as an organizational flaw and began investing heavily in analytics in 2015.

“We have to invest time, effort and money into making our scouting and analytics departments the best they can possibly be," Middleton told NBC Sports Philly in 2015. "From nutrition to sleep studies, we have to be ready to do whatever we can behind the scenes to help us perform better on the field. We have to build up our capacity and our expertise, and we’re getting there quickly.” 

Middleton has delivered on his promise. The Phillies now possess a robust analytics department and a restructured scouting department, plus various newly created player development positions. 

Changes and additions like these rarely snag the headlines, but they matter in building a World Series contender. 

“A lot of it … is behind closed doors," Rhys Hoskins said during the Phillies' postseason run. "It's the staff. It's the R&D department. It's the strength and conditioning. It's the nutritionist. It's all of these things that are being put into place to make us players have the best chance to succeed out on the field.”

It may be taking a bit longer than he would have liked, but it's undisputable that Middleton is putting everything he can into building a perennial winner.

It's not looking too stupid at all. 
13 stars

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Philadelphia Baseball Review - Phillies News, Rumors and Analysis