Jayson Werth is having a completely ridiculous season thus far. We all know this. We all want this. We are all happy about it. BUT with each home run, with each big 2-5, 4-RBI, 1-run, 1-homer game he has (like in last night's 12-2 drubbing of the Pirates), every Phillies fan gets a little bit of an uneasy feeling in the back of their brain buried behind all of the joy from another great game by the beard.
The thought process goes, especially after Ryan Howard's $125 million contract combined with an escalating payroll, that Jayson Werth is pricing himself out of re-signing with the Phillies. Whether or not that's entirely true remains to be seen, but by not keeping Cliff Lee after acquiring Roy Halladay, the Phillies put themselves in a PR situation where the decision to not keep both was all about money. The Phillies will tell you, and keep on telling you, that they moved Lee because they needed to restock their farm system after losing key prospects in the Halladay trade. And that may be what they truly believe. But when you have the chance to have two former Cy Young winners in your rotation, both in their primes, a lefty and righty no less, is it really worth passing that opportunity up? Especially after the one you let get away pitched so brilliantly for you? Maybe it was and maybe it wasn't. There's no question if it had to be an either/or scenario, Roy Halladay is and was the right choice. But it didn't have to be. And many people believe it was because of money.
That's not to say that perception is entirely true. The Phillies aren't cheap. They have one of the highest payrolls in all of baseball. They signed Halladay to a hefty extension, and then doled out huge bucks to make sure Ryan Howard remained a Phillie for a long time. But there's always going to be that lingering question of letting Cliff Lee go. The why that may never really be answered, especially if he gets traded to another NL rival this summer.
Jimmy Rollins threw in his two cents by saying keeping Lee and Halladay is something he guesses only the Yankees do. So my question to the Phillies, or more accurately the fans, is what is winning worth to you? Because I see a solution of sorts, a way for the Phillies to begin to enter the realm of the Yankees and Red Sox. No, I'm saying they become spenders at all cost, the Evil Empire of the NL. I'm saying, while you have this core intact and you're selling out the stadium every night, you go about business a little differently, in a way that $140 million doesn't necessarily have to be the limit for your budget.
Citizens Bank Park seats 43,651 people. The Phillies sell out damn near every night. Add to that a couple thousand standing room only seats, and there are 45,000 people there on any given night, easy. Philadelphia is a big-market city that loves its sports teams, and when they're playing good, there isn't anything more popular in the city. That's evident by what seems like a million sellouts in a row, by the Phillies red you see everywhere coming off of back-to-back World Series appearances including becoming World Fucking Champions. So if the fans really want to continue seeing a winner, if they really want the Phillies to keep the Cliff Lees, Jayson Werths and company, really want the Phillies to go out and get a Roy Oswalt or even enter a sweepstakes for a guy like Carl Crawford, and if the Phillies want to keep getting to World Series and start pilling up some rings, raise ticket prices, all of them, $5 - $10.
Simple as that. People will keep going, believe me. At least if all they really want from ownership is them to do everything in their power to win, which is the refrain we often hear from the masses. Raise tickets $5 - $10, hear the moans and groans, but watch as the fans continue to flock and the Phils continue to win. Think about it. 5 (ticket price raise) x 45,000 (attendance) x 81 (number of home games) = $18.225 million in extra revenue in one year, certainly enough to re-sign Jayson Werth. And that's not even including playoff games. If you want to bring back a Jayson Werth and make a run at another starting pitcher, or closer, or some other high-priced piece, raise them $10 … and get $36.45 million in extra money in just one year. Sure, many fans will complain, and I'm not exactly thrilled with raising ticket prices, but if that's what it's going to take to keep adding the right pieces, to keep the best players on this team in Philadelphia, I think we'll all understand. At least if winning truly is worth more than anything to us and to the Phillies.