They should know, shouldn't they?
They know Polanco. They know championships.
And yet, somehow, the last time the Phillies had Polanco, they couldn't seem to put those two things together. They couldn't seem to find room for Polanco in the championship-type team they were trying to build.
They couldn't figure out how to fit him into their everyday lineup then. They're finding a way now, even though it means playing Polanco at a position -- third base -- that he hasn't played regularly in seven years.
Maybe that says something about the player Polanco has become. Or maybe it says more about the team the Phillies have become.
The team Polanco left 4½ years ago already had many of the championship pieces in place. Charlie Manuel, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard -- you know the names.
You know the names now.
Back then, the Phillies hadn't played a playoff game in more than a decade. Now, they're one of just three teams tied for the longest string of postseason appearances in the game.
Like the Red Sox and the Angels, the other two teams that have played in three straight Octobers, the Phillies have become very much a win-now team. They're a club always looking to get better, and always willing to move quickly.
The Phillies easily could have brought back Pedro Feliz as their 2010 third baseman. They've been to the World Series two straight years with Feliz, and they held an affordable $5 million option to keep him.
Instead, following former general manager Pat Gillick's theory that winning teams need to turn over about 20 percent of their roster each year, the Phillies decided to make a change. They went after Polanco, figuring that he can handle third base, but also that he's a better fit than Feliz in a lineup that features a lot of strikeout-prone power hitters.
"He produces runs in a totally different way," general manager Ruben Amaro said at the news conference to announce Polanco's signing.
The stat freaks will no doubt rip the signing, because Polanco doesn't walk and doesn't hit home runs. But if stat guys hate Polanco, managers love him.
"He's one of the all-time professional players I've ever been around," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I hate to lose a guy like that, but I couldn't be happier for him.
"This guy was quietly one of the best, steadiest players in the American League. He was a tremendous day-in, day-out player. I'm really going to miss him."
Leyland said he has no doubt that Polanco can handle third base, saying "He wouldn't have any problem playing anywhere."
Others aren't so sure. One scout wondered Thursday whether Polanco's arm will be strong enough to allow him to be as good as third base as he was at second (where he won the AL gold glove two of the last three years).
"I'll get used to it pretty quick," Polanco said.
I wonder about Polanco at third, and I wonder about a three-year contract for a 34-year-old who already seemed to be slowing down at times last year.
But I also have some trust now for the Phillies' judgment, because they've earned that trust.
They made one change in their everyday lineup last winter, allowing Pat Burrell to leave as a free agent and bringing in Raul Ibanez. Obviously, that worked out.
Like Ibanez, Polanco is a player who fits the new Phillies image.
"I just know everybody here plays to win," he said Thursday.
That goes for the front office, too, which is why some Phillies people don't completely rule out another run at Roy Halladay, the ace they pursued last July before "settling for" Cliff Lee.
It's a longshot that the Phillies will actually land Halladay, in part because of what they'd have to give up (while some outside the organization wonder if they'd dangle Cole Hamels, Phillies people say there's no chance of that), and in part because the Phillies don't want to add much to a payroll that reached $113 million in 2009.
The Phillies are just about maxed out on revenue, because they already sell out virtually every game, and they could hardly have a higher (or better) profile in their market.
That's one thing that has changed in the four years Polanco was gone. Philadelphia was still a city that loved to boo its losers back then, and the Phillies were an organization that talked about winning but perhaps didn't understand how to win.
It's different now. They're a "championship-type team" now.
Placido Polanco should fit in just fine.