Yeah I think there is a big difference between what Middleton might feel emotionally and what Middleton believes as an owner. He might struggle with it, but Klentak is doing exactly what he (and Gillick) said they would do when they were hired. They have also been following the Cubs and Astros model almost exactly, except they didn't always draft as high, or as well, neither of which is Klentak's fault (yet), and they will likely have to spend money to paper over that.
I liked the idea of Darvish but not really at six years. They can always sign Keuchel or another pitcher just as good as Arrieta will be going forward next year. And if one of the pitchers that is left falls to them still, great.
I don't agree with AF's philosophy per se, but I do agree that we're looking at the difference between say. 0.5 WAR from an internal candidate vs. 1.5 WAR from a Cashner (and heck, he put up over 4 last year) vs. 3 from an Arrieta. Now, obviously if one of these free agents has an All-Star season and the Phillies are four games out of first place in July we'll wonder might have been. But that glass half-full scenario is no more or less likely than the one where they sign Arrieta, still only go .500, and he's injured next year.
I agree the offense could be for real, but it also might not be. Hoskins may come back down to earth. Santana lost 50 points of OPS last year even though his OPB remains stellar and consistent. The RFs are no sure thing (Altherr's health always a question, Williams has flaws and may not adjust). Alfaro's minor league stats are 100+ points below what he did in his call-up. And obviously the 3B is a question. The strategy is the same on both sides of the ball: "see what we have." It's just that, paradoxically, the pitching feels less certain, and they chose to address the offense. I think that just happened to be a perfect storm of a player they loved and a contract they could live with. That doesn't yet exist for a pitcher and it could be for either reason.
Just saying they should spend money doesn't really mean anything to me, and Middleton knows better too. He wanted an analytics front office and part of that is basing your evaluations and your contract offers on them. So if at the end of the day they'd rather sign a Cashner for two years than a Cobb for four, it's not going to be about thrift, but rather, efficiency.
(Ha, just saw last post. Cashner wasn't really who I wanted, the leftys make more sense, but what did he get? Speaking of leftys there was a new (but old) rumor that the Phillies tried to trade for Mike Montgomery.