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Yesterday, Phillies CEO David Montgomery sat down with Fox Sport’s Ken Rosenthal to discuss a wide range of topics involving the Phillies trade deadline plan. Among the topics that Montgomery spoke on was the growing sentiment that the Phillies may refrain from trading players like Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon because their TV contract expires after the 2015 season, and having bigger names on their roster may allow the team to have more leverage in TV negotiations. First, Rosenthal compares the Phillies to the Red Sox, who reportedly signed players prior to 2010, just to gain leverage in TV negotiations.
What about the fact that the Phillies’ regional TV deal with Comcast expires after the 2015 season? Former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, now with the Cubs, said in former Sox manager Terry Francona’s recent book that Boston ownership wanted the team to acquire “sexy guys” after the 2010 season to combat sagging TV ratings on its regional network.
David Montgomery doesn’t believe the Phillies are going to follow the Red Sox blueprint as the TV negotiations approach.
“What hopefully appeals to somebody that carries us is the strength of our support over the last 15 years,” Montgomery said. “We’ve been blessed with ratings — they’re not as high today as they were four years ago, understandably so, but they’re still strong ratings. Our attendance is still strong. We’re viewed to be a passionate sports market. If you have the opportunity to carry a major sports team in a passionate sports market, I think that’s attractive.
The TV deal is up after 2015, which is the final season of Cliff Lee’s deal. Jonathan Papelbon’s contract expires after the 2014 season. My point is that it is too early to be keeping players for a potential 2015 TV deal. While the Phillies may not be able to put together a core that has more fan favorites than this one, they sure as hell can put together a core that produces better and is younger than the one the Phillies have out there now. If the Phillies try to hold onto players like Utley, Ruiz, Halladay, Lee and Rollins at least until the TV deal, then we are going to be looking at a team of 36 and 37 year-olds that will provide even less spark as a whole than they currently are.