Give the Phillies credit

Watching the Philadelphia Phillies play Cincinnati in pursuit of their third straight National League pennant, it does strike an observer that they have the best organization…from top to bottom…in all of baseball.

This is a franchise that had the first overall pick in 1997, and the pick, J.D. Drew wouldn’t sign with them. As recently as 2002, Scott Rolen was offered a $140 million dollar contract, but turned it down so he could get out of there. Rolen eventually signed a $90 million deal with the Cardinals.

All of that has changed. The Phillies have drafted exceptionally well, selecting Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels. They’ve developed other players as well, like catcher Carlos Ruiz, reliever Ryan Madson and Kyle Kendrick.

When they’ve had needs, the Phillies have had enough chips to deal for the likes of Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Brad Lidge. They’ve also picked up talents like Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, and Jamie Moyer in free agency.

The Phillies have energized their fan base. A franchise that once attracted as little as 1.4 million people (1997) brought 3.6 million through the gates this year. They have a 123-game regular season sellout streak, and sell every available season ticket.

As the Phils have improved, their revenues have skyrocketed. Television and radio revenue is at an all time high. With attendance, media, and ancillary revenue increasing dramatically, the Phils’ payroll has increased exponentially. They’ve signed the players brought through their system to long term deals, and have added the likes of Oswalt, Halladay, Raul Ibanez and re-acquired Placido Polanco with big money contracts.

Ownership committed to the system. The system developed players. Ownership reinvested the money earned, and the Phils used additional prospects to make trades.

This team is going to be together for a while. Every other franchise in Major League Baseball should take notice. The Phillies are the model to follow if you want to build a winner.