Yes, the problem is the pharm, all three arms: draft, international signings, player development. Of the three, steps have been taking to boost all but international. Sixto was the only real hit from international market since Sal found Ruiz. We aren't a team which has held back on international spending. We've had our academy for years. we have (had) two DR teams and were the last team to depart VZ. We've paid some big bonuses: Ortiz was one of the largest for any of the July 2 guys for any team. Our scouts just haven't gotten the job done and development/injury prevention among signees seemed spotty.
FA signings haven't been a problem, in temeselves -- $ spent and roster spots. The problem with some of our FA signings has been not limiting ourselves to noncomp FAs, other than the truly exceptional guys, like Harper. Trading minor league talent for vets hurt more than FA signings. We lost some #2 and a #3 pick, but the cushion for that is that we have drafted poorly, so a draft choice for the Phillies has, unfortunately, been worth less than a draft pick for the leading teams.
They need to be able to re-sign their own FAs, like Nola. Really not many others at this point (Realmuto this year), again unfortunately and the result of development. Beyond a long-term budget plan to deal with re-signing those plus, internal FAs, I still advocate spending up to cap with non-comp FAs.
I think the best example of jump-the-gun expenditure of resources, prior to being strong enough to advance, was Realmuto. We traded a big piece of future to get him, rather than spending the $ on a concomp FA -- or two, or three. I think we rushed on Realmuto, because we wanted a star, but from a baseball standpoint, because we thought he would make the pitching better and generally add leadership. Not really much sign of those last two. If 2020 had been a normal season, then Realmuto/Harper/Wheeler would have substantially increased revenue.
I have no idea how the relievers whom Klentak traded for could have all gone as totally south as they did after the trade. It's all very SSS, but still something TPTB need to think about, along with how the team totally crumbled at the end of the season. They haven't don well on the road, but without fans in the stands, how much excuse is their for that? It seems indicative of something lacking.