Andy MacPhail’s mantra during his four seasons as Phillies president has been “grow the arms, buy the bats.” You can’t argue the team has made the effort to purchase and trade for position players, to varying degrees of success. General manager Matt Klentak added big names at four starting spots over the winter, spending big money (and prospects) in the process.
The “growing the arms” part of MacPhail’s statement has proven problematic. The farm system doesn’t exactly have a plethora of major league-ready pitchers waiting in the wings. Surely, if they had, with the season the big-league club has had on the mound, we would have seen them by now.
Upon further review, this is an organizational problem that goes back, seemingly from the franchise’s inception 136 years ago. Looking at the 2008 World Series-winning roster, the team had four homegrown pitchers on the staff: starters Cole Hamels, Brett Myers and Kyle Kendrick, and Ryan Madson out of the bullpen.
The 1993 pennant-winning Phillies had exactly zero homegrown pitchers that made significant contributions. None.
With the help of Baseball-Reference.com, we examined the last 40 years of Phillies baseball — which featured two World Series wins, five pennants and nine playoff appearances. The results are staggering.
Top 10 Phillies homegrown pitchers over the past 40 seasons by career WAR:
1. Cole Hamels - 42.4
2. Aaron Nola - 19.2
3. Kevin Gross - 13.5
4. Randy Wolf - 11.9
5. Brett Myers - 9.8
6. Ryan Madson - 8.9
7. Don Carman - 8.0
8. Kyle Kendrick - 5.9
9. Hector Neris - 5.5
10. Ricky Bottalico - 5.2
When you consider that this factors in 40 years of drafts, 40 years of scouting, both stateside and internationally, it’s even more appalling. In the MLB amateur draft alone, I estimate the franchise has drafted more than 1,000 pitchers over that span. Think about that. Even by blind luck, a team should be able to do better than the Phillies have.
Looking at this list, from 40 years of scouting, it’s a wonder the franchise has had the success it experienced during that time.
This is an indictment of the entire organization, its talent evaluation process and its developmental programs. This talent drought has gone on too long. It’s long past time for the Phillies to evaluate the way they evaluate.
Start growing some doggone arms.
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