I saw that read it and weep article as well. For better or for worse, I believe that 2019 is a crossroads season for this organization in the event that they don't land one of the superstars. We are in a position where we need to buy stars on the open market because the pharm is only producing serviceable MLers, not stars. In contrast, the Braves have a bevy of young stars and the Nats have a solid young post-Harper core to build around. If the Phillies don't sign one of the stars and subsequently field a middling or worse team that is not on par with the Braves, Nats and maybe the Mets and won't be in the near future, Middleton will need to ask the tough question whether or not this post-2014 rebuild has failed and, if so, whether he needs to clean house in the front office and scouting and development departments, have the new front office blow things up and go back to tank mode and basically start over again. Either that or have everyone hold their breath for two years and desperately hope that the Mike Trout cavalry comes galloping over the ridge after 2020. Of course, the former would mean and entire lost decade for baseball in Philadelphia and, for the Phillies, a lost generation of phans.
One thing that is becoming clearer is that Middleton's "stupid money" comments were, well, stupid. Many phans took them as an all-but-guarantee that they would sign Harper or Machado. If they sign neither, he--and, by extension, entire organization--will have serious credibility gap with the phanbase to confront. And, fairly or not, McCutcheon will probably become something of a lightning rod as "the guy they signed instead of Machado or Harper" and if he starts slowly next April, the boobirds will be merciless.
Happy New Year, everyone!