The 2023 Philadelphia Phillies are big, loud, brash, and living the dream. They're expensive, mean, impervious to criticism, and delight in pile driving all comers. They can pitch, too; Zack Wheeler was expensive, and Aaron Nola might be soon, but both have the potential to erase playoff innings in the blink of a beer-soaked eye. The bullpen? So full of 97+ MPH fastballs, all of a sudden, that you could swear it was crafted by Matt Blake.
Is the Phillies' model repeatable? Well, to get to this exact spot, you'd need the October seasoning that comes with a hard-fought run that falls tantalizingly short of the end goal. You'd need a lineup that thrives on disrespect, and a city that fosters that ethos. You'd need a GM who breaks down walls, then doesn't necessarily stick around to build them back up again.
In essence, it'd be tough to recreate this exact group, but that's what makes baseball special. The whole "use gobs of money in free agency to drill lots of homers" thing, though? That is certainly repeatable. It's what the Yankees used to do before they got tired of it. If someone wanted to, as Bryce Harper said, "spend the money, baby," they might be able to approach what we're watching. They'd just have to spend it right. On Harper, who yearned to be a Yankee. On Schwarber, who Brian Cashman reportedly "coveted," but couldn't close on. On Rob Thomson and Kevin Long, both of whom left New York's clutches.
It's not so ridiculous to insinuate that, if things broke right for the Yankees as they chased power and powerful fastballs, they could build a champion. They'd need lineup balance -- GOD, PLEASE -- but that's part of the Phillies' model, too; four lefties started Game 2 of the NLCS, a 10-0 shellacking.
SNY's Andy Martino seems to vehemently disagree, though, stating his preference for "athleticism, defense and versatility" over the fire-breathing Philly phenomenon. On the surface, it's a valid take. But both routes can lead deep into October, and so far, the "Clobber Everyone" route is winning.
Yankees should be more like Phillies -- and used to be
Perhaps what Martino meant to say was, "If you let Dave Dombrowski and only Dave Dombrowski collect the pieces for you, this plan will work." The ex-Red Sox head honcho certainly does have a special thing going, and has built a work-a-day roster that has connected with the city of Philadelphia unlike any in recent memory.
But it is worth noting that the Diamondbacks built a young, hungry, frisky, athletic roster, but one that isn't exactly littered with stars (save for Corbin Carroll). Through two games, they've been abjectly dog-walked by a high-priced lineup that launches a home run every four at-bats. If the Phillies' bats weren't clicking, this would look ugly, sure. But that applies to every roster in MLB. A lineup where, on a good night, the ball is leaving the yard repeatedly is better than a lineup that peaks with a flurry of doubles.
The Arizona Diamondbacks' method can provide a team with several No. 1 picks and a desert's payroll a winning roster. But the Phillies and Rangers have neared the mountaintop by answering every roster question with, "How much?" There's more than one way to skin a cat, but so far, the shortcut is winning. The Yankees could do it, too. They did it in 2009. They'd just have to do it right -- and therein lies the Cashman-flavored problem.