Mar 28, 2024 - News

Phillies owner: It's World Series or bust this season

Phillies owner John Middleton

The stare of a man who's serious about winning it all. Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

Phillies owner John Middleton wants his "f–kin' trophy back."

Why it matters: Everyone from Middleton to the fans knows the Phillies' championship "window is so wide open that it might as well be a door," as Inquirer beat writer Scott Lauber put it.

The big picture: Middleton laid out his expectations — World Series or bust — during a closed-door spring training meeting, per the Inquirer.

  • The club enters Friday's season opener against the Braves with one of its highest-paid and most talented rosters.
  • The Phillies haven't won the World Series since 2008, but they've been close the last two years.

Catch up quick: Last year's gutting loss to the upstart Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League championships was as painful for fans and players as falling to the Houston Astros in the 2022 World Series.

What they're saying: Middleton took the loss to the Diamondbacks just like he did the team's World Series loss to the Yankees in 2009.

  • "When you lose like that, I get angry," Middleton said in a recent interview.
  • "Frankly, if people don't get at least a little angry, I'm not sure you care enough."

The boss has spoken, and players are listening.

  • Second baseman Bryson Stott told the Inquirer he's never seen Middleton more "fired up."
  • That's because the Phillies have some of baseball's youngest and brightest stars — including Bryce Harper, Aaron Nola, Trea Turner and Zack Wheeler — many of whom are entering the prime of their careers.

State of play: The Phillies didn't make many offseason free agency changes and are running it back with mostly the same crew that made the cusp of the World Series last year.

  • They did, however, lock up ace pitcher Nola with a seven-year, $172 million deal and ink Wheeler to a record-breaking extension.
  • The team is paying more than $260 million in player salaries this year, with seven players each earning at least $20 million, per the Inquirer.

What we're watching: How Harper fares at first base this year.

  • He will permanently switch to the position after filling in there last year when Rhys Hoskins tore his ACL.

Plus: Will streaky Nick Castellanos finally stop shrinking in big playoff moments now that he's more comfortable in the Philly fishbowl?

  • Phillies fans gave him plenty of grief after he managed only a single hit and struck out 11 times against the D-Backs.

And the $260 million question: Can the Phillies bring home a championship banner in honor of the 20th anniversary of Citizens Bank Park?

Our bottom line: Go get the effin' trophy.

  • "I think these guys are motivated," manager Rob Thomson told NBC News this month.
  • "They've had two years of tasting it. Now they want to take a chunk out of it and swallow it."

If you go: First pitch is Friday at 3:05pm. Tickets.

Go deeper: We asked a tarot card reader to predict the Phillies' 2024 season

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