"This game is designed to punish the successful," MacPhail said on MLB Network's "The Rundown" on Wednesday. "This team had five first-place finishes in a row, had 12 years where they were 80-plus wins. By design, they punish you for that. You draft lower. You have to pay your players greater and greater salaries based on arbitration and free agency based on performance and it takes its toll."
That toll has reached a peak for the Phillies in 2015. The team has the worst record in baseball through about the halfway point of the season and entering Wednesday, the team was 17 games out of first place in the NL East.
MacPhail joins a team mostly composed of older players who likely won't be around for too much longer and younger players who don't have the experience or the polish yet to make the contributions the Phillies need, something MacPhail conceded. But that doesn't mean he doesn't think changes aren't on their way.
"The criticism of this franchise I think has been that maybe they tried to keep the party going too long," MacPhail said. "We're in the punishment phase. We're going to get out of the punishment phase as quickly, as efficiently and as effectively as we can."
Since he will not be taking over as president until the end of the season, MacPhail said he would use the next few months to both learn the Phillies' culture and system and to re-indoctrinate himself into baseball after having been away for three years.
With the state of the Phillies' organization, it's easy to question why MacPhail decided to come out of his brief retirement to run the team. But MacPhail said it was an easy choice.
"[The ownership group] made it clear to me how they wanted to operate which I was comfortable with and it really became an opportunity I couldn't pass up," MacPhail said. "Plus I'd been out on my couch and travelling for long enough and my wife had had enough of me so it was time to go."
Nick Suss is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.