System strong, but questions remain

Originally Published: January 11, 2005
By Will Kimmey | Baseball America
The Phillies finished 86-76 in 2004, posting consecutive winning seasons for the first time since 1982-83, as they opened Citizens Bank Ballpark. That would be seen as a positive year for many franchises, but because of the club's expectations, it was deemed a failure.

Philadelphia had raised its Opening Day payroll from $57 million in 2002 to $93 million in 2004, and pundits figured the reinforcements would enable the Phillies to overcome the seemingly sagging Braves in the National League East. Bad call. Two days before Atlanta won its 13th straight division title, the Phillies fired manager Larry Bowa after four tumultuous years. It was the only move they could make. They have given out too many long-term, big-money contracts to meaningfully shake up their nucleus.