Affeldt Wrong About Philly’s Impact on Free Agents
Hola, amigos. I know it’s been a while since I last rapped at ya … but I just read Jeremy Affeldt‘s farewell column on SI.com, where he listed the five things he will not miss about baseball.
Fifth on the list? Philadelphia.
Why? The terrible, terrible fans.
Affeldt wrote, “The irony is, while Phillies fans succeed in making many players dread traveling there, they also (not surprisingly) impact the decision-making process of those same players in free agency. Sure, it’s great to play for a rabid fan base, but after experiencing firsthand how powerful that fervor can be when it is channeling extreme negativity, it really makes you think twice about where all that collective anger comes from, and whether you want to subject yourself and your family to that all the time.”
But let’s be real about this. It’s easy to sit in the visitors’ bullpen at Citizens Bank Park and tell your teammate, “I’d never sign here. Not for all the money in the world.” It’s something entirely different to get a competitive offer from the Phillies in the offseason and say, “Nope. Not signing there.”
Affeldt is in the final season of a three-year, $18 million contract. That’s great money for a relief pitcher. Perhaps Affeldt truly is the exception to the rule, but hypothetically speaking if the Giants decided not to resign him following the 2012 season and the Phillies offered him that three-year, $18 million contract, I bet his concerns about Phillies fans would have disappeared. You see, money rules, almost without exception. Jim Thome is one of baseball’s all-time good guys, but he left Cleveland for the mean streets of Philly because the Phillies offered him the biggest contract. Cliff Lee took less money to come to Philly because he loved his time here so much in 2009. Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt waived no-trade clauses to come to Philly because they wanted to win. Raul Ibanez is one of baseball’s all-time good guys. He came to Philly, too.
But this happens everywhere. Not just Philadelphia. Free agents almost always go where the best contract is.
So don’t let Affeldt worry you. There aren’t groups of free agents steering their agents away from Philadelphia because the fans are mean. Are there a few players that might feel this way? Does Philly’s reputation gives some players some pause? I’m sure there are. But quite honestly, those players probably wouldn’t succeed in Philly anyway. If they’re that concerned about the fans then it’s probably for the best.
But to say Phillies fans truly impact the decision-making process in free agency is hyperbole. Believe me, if the money is there or the team is winning (or both, which was the case from 2007-11) the Phillies won’t have any problems signing anybody they want in the future. In fact, I have absolutely no doubt that when the Phillies decide to reenter the free agency pool in a big way they will do just that.