The Phillies have been trying to hang on to their glory years, keeping their well beyond their prime stars after having devastated their farm system in the attempt to stay on top after their 2008 World Series Victory. Their recent signings have been older players such as A.J. Burnett and Marlon Byrd, players whose contacts will expire at approximately the same time as the core 4 of Utley, Rollins, Howard, and Ruiz (along with Lee and Papelbon). At that time, the cupboard will be bare. The farm system has failed to produce viable replacements, with such disappointments as Domonic Brown, Freddy Galvis, and Cesar Hernandez, and utter failures such as Sebastian Valle, Tyson Gillies, and Tommy Joseph. Only Cody Asche and a few of the bullpen arms (Justin DeFratus, Jake Diekman, Mario Hollands, and Ken Giles) show promise. The farm system was also devastated by high risk/high reward draft picks the Phillies made when they were drafting low in the order thanks to all their first division finishes. Few of these panned out, others are years away, leaving the cupboard bare at the upper levels. Recent drafts have focused on more major league ready players, but no one ready to step in to help today, or even tomorrow.
Additionally, the training in the system has to be questioned, when so few prospects appear to be major league ready when they do arrive, some, such as Domonic Brown, display a shocking lack of knowledge of how to play the game, running poor routs in the outfield, swinging at the first pitch after the opposing pitcher has walked three in a row, etc.
The Phillies are in a bind. Other teams are locking up young stars before they become free agents, and trades are difficult with nothing to send back except high contracts. The only real solution is the long route, draft well, focus on development, and perhaps step up international scouting and signing. Unlike the Sixers, the Phillies future is not so rosy, even for a few years down the road.