Thanks HBT readers!

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success demotivational.jpgI don’t mention this often enough, boys and girls, but you all are really great. May was a fabulous month for HardballTalk. We set our all-time record for traffic and tripled the clicks we had in May 2009 (back when the blog went by the name “The Quarrymen”).

We’ve got a lot of great stuff rolling out in the coming weeks and months. One of those things is a redesign of the joint which will help keep older content from getting buried like it currently does and will make our other NBC blogs more accessible for everyone.  Yes, some of you will moan about it at first because people have moaned about every redesign since the invention of the Internet, but I can assure you, this one will make the blog better.

Another change will be the addition of some video content featuring a pasty, bespectacled bald guy with a nasally Midwestern voice hating on all of your favorite teams. Sure, that will likely cause us to lose all of our traffic gains but it will hopefully be fun anyway.

But let’s be clear about something: everything we’ve been able to do with HardballTalk has been a function of one thing: you guys coming back and spending your free time and mouse clicks on us.

We realize you have a lot of choices when it comes to blog surfing, and we’d like to thank you for flying HardballTalk.

The Phillies plan to spend money and “maybe even be a little bit stupid about it”

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In an age in which even baseball’s richest teams talk about tight budgets and keeping payroll low, it’s pretty rare to hear anyone connected with a front office talking about freely spending money. Phillies owner John Middleton, however, offered up something rare about the team’s approach to free agency.

“We’re going into this expecting to spend money, and maybe even be a little bit stupid about it,” he told Bob Nightengale or USA Today. He then added, “we just prefer not to be completely stupid.” That save aside, it was a pretty unusual sentiment these days.

“Stupid” could certainly mean Bryce Harper, who the Phillies have long been expected to pursue. It could even mean Harper and Manny Machado. Why not? At the moment the Phillies’ payroll for 2019 is looking to be just a shade above $100 million, so even adding, say, $70 million to that would not put them in an unreasonable position compared to other competitors. And that’s before you figure in any sort of back-loading or deferred money that Harper and/or Machado might agree to.

Or, even if they didn’t get one or both of those guys, they could spend that same kind of money on multiple free agents. Patrick Corbin? Marwin Gonzalez? A handful of others? We counted down the top 100 free agents last week and any number of them could be acquired given the sort of payroll flexibility a large market team like the Phillies appear to have. It merely requires the will to do it. A will which, it seems, John Middleton possesses.

How novel.